NEW DELHI: Justice DY Chandrachudwho is slated to become the 50th CJI in November, has said a citizen’s fundamental right against discrimination in public employmentenforceable only against government, must soon extend to the private sector.
In an obvious reference to Article 15 of the Constitution barring the state from discriminating any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, Justice Chandrachud said if a comprehensive anti-discrimination law is not extended to employment in the private sector, inequities would creep into the social structure of the country.
Justice DY Chandrachud said the fundamental right against non-discrimination was made available against the state only as at the time of drafting of the Constitution, the governments were the predominant and primary employers.
Delivering a lecture at the Law Society of England and Wales on Monday on ‘Human Rights in Regulatory Regimes: The Evolution of Judicial Review’, Justice Chandrachud said, “As the state has transformed from a primary employer to a facilitator of private participation and novel public-private partnerships, it’s incumbent upon it to reconfigure its new regulatory role.”
“For all the benefits that stem from greater participation and competition, it must be borne in mind that unchecked private action can also breed several inequities and deprivations. Their unlimited festering will be nothing short of a constitutional infirmity,” he said.
He said, “Since the Indian Constitution was drafted at a time where the state was to assume significance as the predominant employer, the promise against discrimination in public employment exists only against the State and its allied institutions. In the absence of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, strides made in anti-discrimination jurisprudence are necessarily limited.”
In the shift from a socialist inspired welfare state to a market-driven economy, it is important to re-assess our long-standing constitutional commitments, he said. “In embracing these changes, the constitutional order must alert itself to the social and economic deprivation that could be caused be a purely unregulated approach to the law and life,” Justice Chandrachud warned.
On his adjudicatory experience, he said he believed a sustained interrogation of the seemingly ‘private’ spheres of law provides impetus to a more robust conception of rights and liberties in all spheres. “Perhaps, this task is at the heart of judicial review in a globalized world,” he added.