Monday, March 10, 2008

Bill on private job quota in Sikkim

Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling today tabled a bill that seeks to reserve 95 per cent of jobs for the Sikkimese in all private sector businesses operating within the state.

All companies registered under Sikkim’s Registration of Companies Act, 1961 or the Companies Act, 1956 with operational units in the state will come within the purview of the bill. The new act will cover private commercial institutions, shops, factories or manufacturing units and industries having more than 10 employees.

The bill’s targeted beneficiaries have been defined as those possessing Certificate of Identification or Sikkim Subject Certificate. Sikkimese, who have been living in the state from the time of the Chogyals, are generally the holders of the subject certificates. Employment of non-Sikkimese people will be considered in cases where locals are not technically qualified.

“We find it important to enact the legislation for the promotion of employment of local people in different private organizations,” Chamling said. Called the Sikkim Promotion of Local Employment Bill, it was tabled on the third day of the ongoing budget session of the legislature.

Chamling, whose party, the Sikkim Democratic Front, has been in power for the third consecutive term, said a designated authority would oversee the implementation of the law when the bill is enacted. Discussions on the bill, drafted with an eye on the Assembly polls next year, will take place on Monday.

According to recruitment agencies, there are 30,000 private sector jobs in the state. This estimate has been culled from the number of power projects being developed by private agencies, pharma companies and other manufacturing units coming up, apart from the labourers needed for construction work.

According to state labour department sources, about 2,000 to 3,000 jobs in the private sector will be created annually in the coming years. Of this only 150 to 200 jobs will be available to outsiders.

“Trade and tourism sectors will be largely impacted. Since state government jobs are reserved for the locals, it is in these industries that a huge number of migrant labourers and semi-skilled people from outside the state seek employed,” said a member of a recruiting agency.

About the legality of the bill, constitutional expert Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said: “Since Sikkim also comes under the purview of the Constitution of India, the bill will be nullified in a court of law. The Indian Constitution (in the context of private sector jobs) does not permit any state or the country to reserve employment for a particular location. I think the bill will be considered as ultra vires to the Constitution and struck down by the judiciary.”