Article 16: Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. :
Article 16(1) guarantees to all citizens equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment of office under the State.
Article 16(2) prohibits discrimination against a citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth or residence.
However, there are certain exceptions provided in Article 16(3), 16(4) and 16(5). These are as under:
(1) Parliament can make a law that in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of a State on a Union Territory, under any local or other authority within the State or Union Territory, residence within that State or Union Territory prior to such employment or appointment shall be an essential qualification. [Article 16(3)]
(2) A provision can be made for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the State is not adequately represented in the services under the State. [Article 16(4)]
(3) A law shall not be invalid if it provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affair of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination. [Article 16(5)]
The Supreme Court in Secy. of State of Karnataka v. Umadevi (3) (2006) 4 SCC 1 held that adherence to the rule of equality in public employment is a basic feature of the Constitution and since the rule of law is the core of the Constitution, a Court would certainly be disabled from passing an order upholding a violation of Article 14. Equality of opportunity is the hallmark and the Constitution has provided also for affirmative action to ensure that unequals are not treated as equals. Thus any public employment has to be in terms of the Constitutional Scheme.