Following directions from the Bombay High Court,the Mumbai Autorickshawmens Union led by Sharad Rao,withdrew its call for a three-day strike Tuesday. Their climbdown came after the court indicated it would pass an order of injunction against them.
Justices D Y Chandrachud and S C Gupte observed that there can be no justification in any stakeholder issuing a threat of strike when the issue is pending before the court,as it would amount to distrust in the judicial process.
Advocate General Darius Khambata said the government cannot take a hasty decision but is willing to hold a high-level meeting with the transport secretary,the union and other stakeholders.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) that had challenged the auto and taxi fare hike based on PMA Hakim committee recommendations.
MGPs lawyer Uday Warunjikar argued that if the government was going to hold talks with the union owing to the strike threat,there was no guarantee that they might not call for a strike in future as the committee had recommended fare revision every May.
The state informed the court that a communication has been sent to authorities,including BEST, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC),Collector and police,on measures to be taken in case of a strike.
The government indicated that in such an event,it would invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act and provisions under Section 66 A of the Motor Vehicles Act to allow private vehicles to drive passengers.
The court said the impact of the price hike on commuters,and reasonable returns to autorickshaw and taxi drivers to earn their livelihood,should be a matter of concern and no hasty decision can be taken. It will hear the case on September 25.
Shashank Rao,assistant general secretary,Mumbai Autorickshawmens Union,said,We have been told that the principal secretary of transport will hold a meeting Wednesday to discuss the issues. Following this commitment in the court,we have deferred the strike.
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