Hyderabad: Telangana High Court refused to pass any interim orders on an urgent house motion PIL moved by R Surender Singh. The petitioner sought the court to direct RTC JAC to withdraw their ongoing strike. The HC directed the unions, RTC management and the government to file counter-affidavits with complete details by October 10, when it would next hear the matter.

The Division Bench comprising of Justice A Rajashekar Reddy and Justice A Abhishek Reddy gave this direction while hearing the house motion PIL petition in Justice Rajashekar’s residence on Sunday evening.

Putting forth arguments on behalf of the petitioner, PV Krishnaiah informed the Bench that thousands of ordinary people are suffering due to this strike as they cannot go to their native places for the festival season. Sensing an opportunity, private players are fleecing the passengers with exorbitant fares. The ground cited by the employees for undertaking this strike, i.e. not recognising them as government servants, as promised by TRS before elections, is not a valid one, the counsel added.

Krishnaiah pointed out that it has been almost six years since TRS came to power in the state and has not bothered to implement that promise. He compared this with the AP government, which immediately merged RTC with the government once coming into power. He found fault with the Telangana government for not taking any practical steps to prevent the strike despite forming a three-member committee headed by senior IAS officer Somesh Kumar for holding talks with RTC employees. The open threats of the government to dismiss all employees who did not report for duty by Saturday 6 pm is not a helpful move, Krishnaiah added.

Arguing on behalf of the state government, Advocate General BS Prasad and Additional Advocate General J Ramachandra Rao submitted that the government had taken all measures to see that the general travelling public is not inconvenienced. While the RTC runs around 10,000 buses, the government has now ensured that there are over 11,000 buses that are in operation to meet the festival season rush. If needed, more buses will be requisitioned, they added.

The Bench wondered how this was possible for the government as majority employees are on strike. The AG informed that temporary permits had been given to school buses and other private operators to run services during the festival season. He charged that the petitioner is acting for the striking employees and seeking to get an interim direction for withdrawal of the strike, using which the employees can do so and save their face. He said the employees are free to either withdraw or continue the strike. A competent authority will determine the correctness of their demands and their action under the Industrial Disputes Act.

Keeping these submissions in mind, the Division Bench refused to pass any interim orders on the petition. Instead, it issued notices to the Telangana Government Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary of Transport Department, Managing Director of TSRTC, Commissioner of Labour, Secretary of JAC of RTC Unions, and Telangana Mazdoor Union directing them to file counter-affidavits by October 10.

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