Article 16 provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of employment or appointment to any office under the State. No citizen can be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the State on grounds of only religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth or residence.
There are four exceptions to this general rule of equality of opportunity in public employment:
- Parliament can prescribe residence as a condition for certain employment or appointment in a state or union territory or local authority or other authority. As the Public Employment (Requirement as to Residence) Act of 1957 expired in 1974, there is no such provision for any state except Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- The State can provide for reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class that is not adequately represented in the state services.
- A law can provide that the incumbent of an office related to religious or denominational institution or a member of its governing body should belong to the particular religion or denomination.
- The state is permitted to make a provision for the reservation of upto 10% of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens. This reservation of upto 10% would be in addition to the existing reservation. For this purpose, the economically weaker sections would be notified by the state from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.
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