Special Correspondent

NLC management told to restore power supply

CHENNAI: Imposing costs of Rs.5,000 to be paid by NLC Ltd to the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the Madras High Court has directed the RDO, Cuddalore and Tahsildar, Panruti, to hand over a building on Mahatma Gandhi Salai in Neyveli town to the union within a week.

The possession should be given by breaking open the lock put by the Estate Officer (EO), who is also Assistant Township Executive Officer of Neyveli township.

Passing orders on a petition filed by the AITUC, represented by its general secretary, Cuddalore district, M. Sekar, Justice K. Chandru directed the EO and the NLC management to restore power supply to the premises.

The AITUC had challenged an order of the NLC, dated August 29 last year, signed by the EO taking possession of the premises and issuing a public notification.

Mr. Justice Chandru said in the present case, even before the Tahsildar, Panruti, could remove the seal and hand over possession to the petitioner, the NLC EO had acted highhandedly in removing the seal on his own and putting a lock on the premises. “It is not expected of a public authority to interfere in the factional fight between two sections of a union.”

The petitioner union was entitled to regain possession of the premises. The attempt by NLC in supporting the group led by P. Kuppusamy to justify its indefensible action almost bordered on an unfair labour practice prohibited under the Industrial Disputes Act. For the commission of such practice, penalty had been prescribed.

Allowing the petition, Mr. Justice Chandru said if any attempt was made by the NLC United Workers Union (NLCUWU), represented by its general secretary, P. Kuppusamy, to create nuisance, the police should take action.

Until the NLCUWU succeeds in its civil suit, it could not interfere with the affairs of the petitioner union or trespass into the premises. Since the NLC management apprehended a law and order problem, the court directed the DSP, Neyveli, to offer police protection and restore law and order.