Friday, June 30, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pashupati Mills case: 
Justice Koul indicts police 
By Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 29 — Justice M.L. Koul, who inquired into the police firing on workers of a spinning mill in Rewari district, has held the police guilty of using force not commensurate with the unrest shown by the agitating labourers and has described the police firing as “indiscriminate.”

At least four workers were killed and several were injured when the police fired on the agitating workers of the Pashupati Spinning and Weaving Mills, Daruhera, in Rewari district, on February 19, 1998.

Justice Koul was appointed the Commission of Inquiry by the Bansi Lal Government after the then Union Home Minister, Mr Indrajit Gupta, asked the State to do so.

The commission in its 325-page report, which was submitted to the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, yesterday, has also recommended a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the each deceased. Justice Koul has recommended that the Government through its Labour Department should ask the management to pay the compensation.

He has also recommended that at least one dependent of each deceased should be given a government job on humanitarian grounds.

In its volumnious report, prepared after examining about 175 witnesses and going through several affidavits, the commission has criticised the role of SHO Ram Kumar and the then S.P. Rewari, Mr Sohan Lal. The then SDM, Rewari, Mr Roop Chand, who ordered the police to fire in the air, too has been criticised for not supervising the implementation of his orders.

Justice Koul has suggested that the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which, he says, is not a comprehensive law, should be amended to give more powers to the labour officers to settle labour disputes expeditiously through the process of reconciliation.

He is of the view that only a few cases should be sent to the labour courts of tribunals for adjudication because the process of settlement in these courts and tribunals is time consuming.

The then Joint Labour Commissioner, Mr Azad Singh, and the then Labour Officer, Gurgaon, the commission has regretted, had not taken any effective steps to control the resentment among the Pashupati Mills workers. The report also regrets that Mr Azad Singh never visited the mills during the period of strike by the workers.

Justice Koul has a word of advice for the working class also, which, he says has developed a habit of demanding more and performing less. He has also urged leading labour leaders like Mr Indraj Jit Gupta and Mr Gurudas Gupta, Rajya Sabha member, to make the working class more conscious of its duties. “Unless it is done, the multi-national companies will sooner than later bring the domestic industry under their control. This will be in the interest of neither the workers nor the managements.”

Justice Koul had also inquired into the Bahadurgarh police firing after a mob attacked the police station to protest against its failure to arrest the infamous bady killer. The Government has accepted his report on the Bahadurgarh firing in toto.

It must be a record of sorts that one judge simultaneously inquired into two incidents of police firing. Justice Koul was appointed the Commission of Inquiry for the Bahadurgarh police firing in 1997 when he was a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In March, 1998, the State Government requested Justice Koul to inquire into the Daruhera police firing also. He did not accept any additional remuneration for the second inquiry.

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