Updated: November 9, 2021 12:28:19 pm
The Bombay High Court has deprecated the “adamant stand” taken by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation employees of not withdrawing their strike despite the Maharashtra government extending full cooperation and setting up a panel to address their demand of merger of the MSRTC with the state government.
A vacation bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and S P Tavade in its order made available late Monday night said the Maharashtra government complied with everything that the MSRTC workers had demanded for withdrawing their strike/agitation.
“We do not understand why the employees of the MSRTC have now backed out from what they themselves wanted the government to consider,” the bench said, adding the state government has cooperated fully with regard to the demand of the MSRTC workers.
A section of the MSRTC employees has not been reporting for duty since October 28 seeking a merger of the cash-strapped corporation with the state government.
Pursuant to the HC’s orders on Monday, the state government had set up a three-member committee to consider the demand of the MSRTC workers to be treated as state government employees.
A government resolution to this effect was issued on Monday evening and the committee even held its first meeting.
Advocate Gunaratan Sadavarte, appearing for the MSRTC workers, however, told the court on Monday evening that the government resolution was not in line with the one issued in October 2020 in the case of reservations pertaining to the promotion of employees from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories.
Sadavarte told the court that several employees of the MSRTC have committed suicide and some of them in their suicide notes blamed the state chief minister for the same.
He said the workers were hence, not willing to withdraw their strike.
The HC, however, said, “We fail to understand how by not wanting to abide by the order passed by this court and insisting on continuing to breach the orders of this court, the employees (of MSRTC) stand to gain and how such an adamant stand taken by the employees of the MSRTC will prevent their colleagues from taking the drastic step of committing suicide.”
The court in its order noted that Sadavarte had on Monday assured that the workers would withdraw their strike/agitation once the state government forms a committee and the panel holds its first meeting to consider their demand.
The bench also observed that on Monday evening, the state government’s resolution setting up the three-member committee as well as the minutes of the committee’s first meeting were submitted.
“In the minutes of the first meeting held by the committee, it is categorically recorded that the committee has been constituted to consider the demands of the employees of the MSRTC to be treated as employees of the State Government,” the court said.
The bench then directed the MSRTC to initiate appropriate proceedings and file a contempt petition against the workers who are on strike, and posted the matter for further hearing on November 10.
On Monday, the ongoing stir by the MSRTC employees had spread to 223 bus depots, affecting services and inconveniencing lakhs of passengers across the state.
Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab last week said a discussion on the demand for the merger of the MSRTC with the state government and other issues related to the loss-making corporation will take place after Diwali.
The MSRTC is one of the biggest state transport corporations in the country with a fleet of more than 16,000 buses and around 93,000 employees, including drivers and conductors.
The corporation used to ferry over 65 lakh passengers daily before the coronavirus outbreak last year.
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