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HC raps auto union over 3-day strike call

Don't inconvenience people; approach govt to address grievances,court tells union

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: August 20, 2013 1:59:20 am

Pulling up the autorickshaw union that has threatened to go on strike on August 22,the Bombay High Court Monday said it cannot inconvenience lakhs of residents.

The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) that had,in October 2012,challenged the autorickshaw and taxi fare hike based on the recommendations of P M A Hakim committee.

The Sharad Rao-led Mumbai Autorickshawmens’ Union (MAU) has called a 72-hour strike starting August 22,demanding fare revision. MGP’s lawyer Uday Warunjikar told the court that criminal contempt proceedings should be initiated against the union for resorting to pressure tactics while the case was pending before the court and sought a court directive restraining the union,consisting of about 7.5 lakh autorickshaw owners,from going on strike.

Justices D Y Chandrachud and S C Gupte said the autorickshaw owners should take their problems to the government or to the court but not inconvenience lakhs of citizens by threatening to go on strike.

The MGP has asked the government to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act to prevent the union from striking and asked it to propose alternative arrangements for commuters in the event the strike was on.

The NGO had earlier told the court that if another fare increase was implemented as demanded by the union,then it would be the fourth hike for autos in the last 19 months and third hike for taxis in the past 15 months.

Nine autorickshaw unions in Mumbai have dissociated themselves from the three-day strike. Thampi Kurien from Mumbai Rickshaw Men Union said unions from the Shiv Sena,MNS and Swabhiman Sanghatana would not be part of the agitation.

“We have asked the Chief Minister to ensure that drivers working on the three days of the agitation are given protection. Any damage to property should be recovered from vandals,” said Kurien.

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