Telangana HC asks government and striking RTC workers to mellow their stance

Hyderabad: Telangana High Court has called upon both the state government and striking employees of TSRTC to mellow down their hard-line positions. The Court also urged them to engage in talks to resolve the issues, so that ordinary people do not suffer due to the strike. It gave them time till October 18 to do this and report to the Court about the steps taken.

The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy gave this direction on Tuesday while hearing the Public Interest Litigation petition which sought the declaration of the ongoing strike by the employees as illegal. The petition also urged directing the striking employees to return to their duties.

The Court underlined the principle that those in positions of power are expected to be more generous and reasonable while dealing with employees and workers. The Bench directed Advocate General BS Prasad and Additional Advocate General J Ramachandra Rao to convey to the government that steps needed to be taken urgently to hold talks with striking employees and resolve the strike. At the same time, the Bench also directed senior counsel D Prakash Reddy to convince his clients, the striking Telangana Mazdoor Union, to call off the strike and hold talks with the government for settlement of issues.

Justice Raghavendra Singh cited Mahabharata to underscore the point that when both warring sides have taken extreme hard-line positions, it is always better to step back and avoid the conflict. He said the public is unfortunately caught in this fight between the government and the striking employees. When the Advocate General submitted that another 4,000 buses would also be put into service within two days, the Chief Justice expressed doubt as to how the government would find so many trained drivers at such short notice. He directed the AG to inform the Court as to what concrete steps the government and the Corporation have taken after the strike began on October 5 to resolve the issues and put an end to the inconvenience to the larger public. He also commented that the statements made by the top echelons of the government only added fuel to the fire instead of dousing it.

Prakash Reddy informed the Court that the demands raised by the employees were communicated to the government a year earlier. A formal strike notice was served on September 11, but the authorities were not interested in resolving the issues. It was evident in the manner they postponed the conciliation proceedings without giving any fresh date. In those circumstances, the union presented a letter saying they would deem the conciliation proceedings as failed.

Senior counsel added that the head of the government had stated that 48,000 employees had self-dismissed themselves by not reporting to duty before the deadline set by him. This was unprecedented, and Prakash Reddy said that several courts have held against such mass dismissals.

The CJ quipped that not all dialogues in Hindi movies are taken seriously, similarly, do not give importance to such statements as there are no written proceedings about the dismissal. The Bench, however, found fault as to how the union can deem the conciliation as failed and said the Court would have to declare the strike illegal and in that case, it may have severe repercussions on the service of the employees.

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