BENGALURU: Faced with the threat that the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) may be invoked, Namma Metro employees withdrew their seven-hour protest on Friday.
The state government later announced imposition of ESMA for a one-year period on Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd employees indulging in any form of protest. The order was handed over to BMRCL head office on Friday afternoon. However, the big question now is if the move will stand legal scrutiny.
Bangalore Metro Rail Employees Union (BMREU), affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress, is now gearing up to challenge the order in court. Vice-president Suryanarayana Murthy insists that Metro rail falls under the purview of only the Central government.
“The Central government could have invoked it but not the state. We are sure of it and are doing the groundwork now to challenge the order in court,” he said. He added that imposition of ESMA was valid only for a specific incident. “This would be valid only for the Friday protest. It does not apply for a period beyond that,” he claims.
Former advocate general Uday Holla concedes that the employees may be right. The state has the right to impose it on BMTC or KSRTC, which are motor vehicles but not on vehicles that run on rails, he added.
Holla points out that the definition of a motor vehicle as laid down under Section 28 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, states that motor vehicle means any mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads.
However, it does not include a vehicle running upon fixed rails or a vehicle of a special type adapted for use only in a factory or in any other enclosed premises or a vehicle having less than four wheels fitted with engine capacity not exceeding 35 cubic centimetres.
However, BMRCL Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola insists that invoking ESMA is legally valid. “It has been done with legal consultation. It will stand the scrutiny of law,” he said.