’90 second hearing violation of natural justice’, Haryana govt in SC (Ld)

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The Haryana government has told the Supreme Court that the Punjab and Haryana High Court stay on its law to give 75 per cent reservation to the youths belonging to the state in the private sector was passed in violation of principles of natural justice.

In a special leave petition, the Haryana government contended that the interim order was passed in the teeth of law laid down by the top court in Bhavesh D. Parish vs Union of India (2000), and also in violation of the principles of natural justice.

“It is submitted that the hearing granted by the High Court was mere empty formality, whereby, the High Court with a predetermined conclusion opened the hearing by saying that the Act is liable to be stayed and thereafter did not afford any opportunity to the law officer appearing on behalf of the state of Haryana,” said the plea. It further added, “Violation of principles of natural justice is manifest from the fact the entire hearing in the matter concluded within one minute”.

The state government argued that the high court order is completely in the teeth of law laid down by the top court where it has been unambiguously held that if a legislation which pertains to reform or change should not be stayed at an interim stage only because some arguable points are raised. The Haryana government urged the top court to set aside the high court order, terming it unsustainable.

“It is submitted that in the hearing, which lasted only for a couple of minutes, neither did the petitioner prove as to how the impugned provisions, which are manifestly unjust or glaringly unconstitutional, nor did the High Court permit the state to place its arguments on presumption of constitutionality of the impugned legislation and the legislative competence of the state, added the plea.

The plea added that without calling even the petitioner to argue their case and without permitting the law officer for the state to defend its case at an interim stage, the high court in teeth of well-settled principles of natural justice passed this order.

The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Friday mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and sought an early hearing. Mehta submitted that the statutory enactment of the legislature was under challenge before the high court and after hearing the matter for 90 seconds, the court stayed the law. He added that the high court order is not out so far and urged the apex court to list the Haryana government’s challenge to the order on Monday subject to placing the order on record. The Chief Justice agreed to it.

On February 3, in a setback to the BJP-JJP government in Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the state government law to give 75 per cent reservation to the youths belonging to the state in the private sector. The law under the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 is applicable in industries having more than 10 employees.

A Bench headed by Justice Ajay Tewari, while staying the order, admitted a bunch of petitions challenging the law to provide reservation to the domiciles of the state.

Under the law, a provision has been made to impose a fine, ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh, on the industries which do not employ local candidates. In a petition, the Faridabad Industrial Association said the impugned Act was against the provisions of Constitution and also against the basic principle of meritocracy that acted as the foundation for businesses to grow and remain competitive.

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