The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday put an interim stay on a Haryana government law providing 75% reservation to the state’s residents in private sector jobs, reported Live Law.

A bench of Justices Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain passed the order on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020.

The law was enacted in November and came into effect on January 15.

The reservation in private jobs was one of the key promises made during the 2019 Assembly elections by the Jannayak Janta Party – the Bharatiya Janata Party’s alliance partner in Haryana.

The Act states that those who are domiciled in Haryana can avail of its benefits. To have domicile status, a person should be born in the state or should have lived there for at least 15 years.

Companies were given the option to hire people from outside if they cannot find suitable candidates in Haryana. However, they would have to inform the government about this decision.

The Act covers jobs that pay up to Rs 30,000 as gross monthly salary and applies to companies, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms, partnership firms located across the state.

In March, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry had said the reservation would be disastrous for industrial development and private investment.

Later in February this year, the Faridabad Industries Association had moved the High Court, saying that the Act was unconstitutional as it was excessively vague, arbitrary and gave appointing authorities broad powers.

It argued that the Act violates Articles 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth), and 19 (right to freedom, including to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India and practise any profession, trade or business) of the Constitution of India.

“The Act purports to effectively provide for reservation in private employment and represents an unprecedented intrusion by the government into the fundamental rights of private employers to carry out their business and trade, as provided under Article 19 and the restrictions being places upon such a right are not reasonable but are arbitrary, capricious, excessive and uncalled for,” the plea by Faridabad Industries Association said.

The plea also said that the Act was contrary to the idea of common citizenship in India and it fails to uphold the federal structure of the country.

On the other hand, the Haryana government argued that that the Act just makes “geographical classification”, which is permitted under the Constitution, reported the Hindustan Times.

“It is to protect the right to life/livelihood of people domiciled in the state and to protect their health, living condition and their right to employment,” the state submitted.

The government argued that the law was enacted because of rising unemployment in Haryana.

“Industrialisation and urbanisation in the state has led to huge land acquisition which resultantly has reduced growth and employment opportunities in the agriculture sector,” the government said.

Commenting on the High Court’s order, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said that the state government will continue to fight for employment opportunities for young people in the state.