BENGALURU: Observing that it’s the worst time to go on strike as the entire state is in the grip of COVID-19, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday said the employees of four state-run transport corporations should come forward to resume operation of buses immediately, so that the common man does not suffer further.
Issuing a notice to the state government and its transport entities and the employees union on a batch of public interest litigations filed against the strike, a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj said, “We hope and trust that without compromising on the demands made by the union, the employees of four entities come forward to operate buses immediately so that the common man does not suffer further.”
The court said it cannot be disputed that disruption of bus services of four entities has affected the common man at a time when the entire state is undergoing a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases and there have been a large number of deaths due to it. The state-run transport is the cheapest mode of transport for the common man. People have to report to duty and go to vaccinations centres. This is the time the service is needed most, the court said.
The court further said, “We are not speaking on the correctness or legitimacy of the demands, apart from whether they are legal or illegal. But such strikes will affect the fundamental rights of the citizens. Perhaps this is possibly the worst time to take recourse to the strike even if the demands are legitimate.”
Orally observing that today is not the time to decide if the demands are legitimate or not, the court said employees should resume operation of buses. The court added that if the union comes forward, it will hold special sittings on Monday and Tuesday, though it was a summer holiday for it.
The court said that the state government filed a response stating that, as a result of the strike by employees, the operations of KSRTC, BMTC, NEKRTC and NWKRTC have been paralysed and more than 50 percent of buses are still off the road.
Before this, Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadagi submitted that thay had already invoked ESMA against employees as 98 percent of them had gone for the strike which was declared illegal by the labour court, when the state approached it.
Meanwhile, the counsel of the petitioners informed the court that an employee of KSRTC was killed for joining duty.