While hearing a contempt petition filed by MSRTC asking for legal action to be taken against its striking employees for refusing to go to work despite court orders, the Bombay High Court held that the workers must be shown compassion through A Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik in the case of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) v. Sangarsh ST Kargar Sanghatan& Ors. ( WRIT PETITION (ST) NO. 21699 OF 2021)
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Since October 2021, almost 90,000 employees of one of the biggest intercity bus networks in the nation were on strike, demanding, among other things, that they receive the same treatment as state government employees and that MSRTC is combined with the state government.
While rejecting the merger, the State Cabinet agreed that the State Government would give the State Transport Body financial support for a four-year term to cover employee pay. After four years, the choice would be reassessed, and the MSRTC would be left to decide whether or not to continue providing aid.
The learned counsel for the MSTRC drew attention to the order dated October 29, 2021, issued by the Industrial Court in Mumbai in response to a suit filed by the MSRTC against the Maharashtra State Transport Kamgar Sanghatana and 26 Others, prohibiting the MSRTC employees from continuing their illegal strike until further orders are issued.
Despite the aforementioned order, the Respondents published a notice in which they, among other things, state that the MSRTC employees will begin an indefinite strike at midnight on November 3, 2021 unless they receive a written guarantee from MSRTC that they will be treated as State Government employees.
Thus, MSRTC has approached the Court and has submitted that its employees despite the order dated 29th October, 2021 passed by the Industrial Court, have decided to go on strike which is illegal.
In light of the aforementioned, the Court was first persuaded that Respondent No. 2 is guilty of deliberate violation of both the order issued by the Industrial Court of Mumbai and the order issued by this Court on November 3, 2021.
CJ suggested that “We would request the corporation to review their decision and take them back. Do not terminate services. Do not take away their livelihood.”
With this clarification, the Bench asked Senior Attorney Aspi Chinoy to advise his client to provide all employees, including those who had been disciplined, time until April 15 to resume their duties.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY REETI SHETTY