Geetanjali Minhas | May 6, 2010
Taking a serious note of the railway motormen holding Mumbai to ransom with their strike, the Bombay High Court has asked the railways why motormen shouldn’t be made to pay compensation to commuters who were stranded.
“Ultimately the railway has to compensate and they can recover this money from striking employees,” observed a division bench of acting chief justice J N Patel and justice S C Dharamadhikari. “Railways should compensate them and recover the amount from motormen. You can easily identify the pass holders - at least they can be compensated.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Union of India through the general manager, Western Railway, on the legality of motormen’s strike has now asked Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambatta to consult the centre on the compensation issue and file a reply by June 16.
Khambatta informed the court that the motormen had ‘deferred’ the strike till June 15 when a hearing is scheduled before the Industrial Court. The court has directed Khambatta to identify all motormen who went on strike and make every individual a respondent to the petition by May 7. These respondents will then have to file a reply by June 16.
Khambatta informed the court that recognised unions were not supporting the strike. He said that despite conciliatory proceedings underway before the Conciliatory Commissioner under the Industrial Disputes Act , the motormen had struck work.
Devendra Yadav, leader of the Joint Action Forum which had organised the, strike said, “If we are made to pay, we will defend ourselves. We gave the railways 22 days notice and they should have fulfilled our demands. If someone has to compensate it has to be the railways.”
“If political parties could be fined for organising bandhs and disrupting civic life, the same logic should apply in this case,” concluded Justice Patel.
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