Court favours withdrawal of RTC strike

High Court Division Bench says new committee can look into outstanding issues

Legal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: A solution to the two-day-old strike by 1.18 lakh employees of the Andhra Pradesh State Rord Transport Corporation (APSRTC) appeared in sight when a Division Bench of the High Court on Tuesday suggested that agitating workers withdraw their indefinite strike so that a new court-appointed committee can look into the issues raised by them dispassionately.

The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice G. Chandriah was dealing with two writ petitions complaining that the Government had failed to take steps to stop the strike and provide relief to the general public.

These writs were filed separately by the Indian Young Lawyers Forum and one D. Karunakar.

State version

The Government informed the Bench that it had already declared the strike illegal and taken all steps to enforce provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

The Bench adjourned the hearing to Wednesday and asked the unions to respond by 10.30 a.m.

Significantly, the Bench felt that if the strike was not withdrawn, alternative arrangements to put public transport back on rails might have to be taken. It indicated that no further steps by the Government might be taken against workers until Wednesday. The Bench said the proposed committee might have five members, including two representatives each of the unions and the Government and one nominated by the court.

Advice hailed

Staff Reporter adds: Meanwhile, the Minister for Commercial Taxes, K. Ramakrishna, and the Minister for Roads and Buildings, J. Rammohan Rao, welcomed the "the timely advice" of the High Court.

In a statement, they said was not the time for the JAC to sit on prestige.

On the other hand, a joint effort by the State Government, the APSRTC management and the employees was required to restore the financial health of the corporation.

"We reiterate that the State Government is committed to making good the losses and strive to put it back on rails by strengthening it financially and operations-wise."

They said a sum of around Rs. 600 crores had already been announced towards the initial package to tide over the crisis.

Financial implications

They had written to political parties mentioning the financial implications of the unions' demands which would entail an additional burden of Rs. 3,240 crores on the Government.

The Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, was closely monitoring the situation from Israel and suggested that the strike be called of immediately.

While expressing concern at the hardship faced by the stranded pilgrims at Tirumala, he said buses should be hired from neighbouring Karnataka.

However, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) said it would convey its decision on continuing the strike to the court on Wednesday.

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