[dropcap]A[/dropcap] two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court, comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi, has issued notice to the Central Government in a public interest petition seeking a declaration that the ability to access opportunities to enter the workforce is a facet of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The petitioner, Ateet Bansal, claimed through his lawyer that the exorbitant entrance examination fees for government jobs along with the high fees that professional institutions charged, especially in engineering, law and medicine, made employment opportunities inaccessible to many and went against the spirit of Articles 14 (equality before law), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty), and 41 (right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases) of the Constitution of India.
He said he had come across several public sector employment applications where the applicant had to pay exorbitant fees with no provision for refund when the entrance exams for these jobs were cancelled.
“…under the Constitution of India as well as under the Employment Exchange Act, 1959, it is the duty of the State to advertise, notify and grant employment to the citizens. It can be very well understood that some nominal fees have to be charged to conduct examinations but this cannot become a profit-making tool. The UPSC charges only Rs 100 as a one-time fee for registration. Similarly, SSC also charges a very nominal amount. The autonomous bodies are therefore to be restricted by the Union of India from charging an exorbitant amount of money as examination fees,” the public interest petition says.
He argued that this practice of charging hefty application fees had widened the social inequality gap and proposed that the Central Government formulate a “National Career Service” portal to channelize public employment recruitments under one agency.