Wednesday, August 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



In defence of SC ruling on strikes

The Supreme Court judgement on the right to strike is only a reiteration of its earlier decision in 1962. In the All-India Bank Employees’ Association v. National Industrial Tribunal (AIR 1962 SC 171), the Supreme Court observed: “A right to form union guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (c) does not carry with it a fundamental right in the union so formed to achieve every objective for which it was formed. Even a very liberal interpretation of this Article cannot lead to the conclusion that the trade unions have a guaranteed right to an effective collective bargaining or to strike, either as part of collective bargaining or otherwise. The right to strike or the right to declare a lockout may be controlled or restricted by appropriate industrial legislation...”

In the subsequent year, in O.K. Ghosh v. E.X. Joseph (AIR 1963 SC 812), the Supreme Court observed: “Rule 4A, Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rule, 1955, in the form in which it now stands prohibiting any form of demonstration is violative of government servants' rights under Article 19 (1) (a) (Right of speech and expression) and (b) (Right to assemble peaceably and without arms) and should, therefore, be struck down. But in so far as the said rule prohibits a strike, it cannot be struck down for the reason that there is no fundamental right to resort to strike”.

Again, in Radhey Shyam v. Post Master General, Nagpur (AIR 1965 SC 311), the Supreme Court observed: “A perusal of Article 19 (1) shows that there is no fundamental right to strike.” In this case, there was a violation of orders, which were issued under the Essential Services Maintenance Ordinance, 1960 prohibiting strikes in any postal telegraph or telephone service, by the employees of Post and Telegraph Department by resorting to strike.


Clearly, strike cannot be the fundamental right of an employee. It can be held to be a valid restriction as is permissible by the application of Article 19 (2) to 19(6). However, any such restriction must satisfy the following three board tests as has been held by the court in various judgements: A restriction may be imposed only by or under the authority of a law made by appropriate legislature; there must be a nexus between the restriction imposed and the objects enshrined in the respective Clause; and the restriction must be reasonable.

When the entire administrative machinery in the state comes to a standstill due to strike, instead of crying hoarse, the trade unions must emulate the European and Western trade unions who protest silently without halting their duties. The Supreme Court has taken the right initiative and, as responsible citizens, it is our duty to honour the judgement in letter and spirit.

RAJIV BHALLA, Chandigarh

Kalam’s address

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam delivered a very soulful, impassioned and meaningful address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day. Every word of his speech was a gem and carried a strident message for every Indian. The plea that “future generations will not remember the present for constructing temples or mosques, but for making India safe and prosperous” was simply superb. But our media published only a short version of his speech.

Is it not something shameful? A highly erudite and meaningful speech of the Head of the Nation being published so casually. I have not heard such a soul-steering speech since the days of the late Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. But alas! our society has become so insensitive that it has no craving for moral values. It aggressively looks for good things of life with only moral pretensions and the Press is no exception to this uncoded rule of society.

Another example. As many as 29 ONGC officials died in a helicopter crash at Bombay High. These gentlemen were doing national duty as risky as soldering at Kargil. Still no editorial on the accident. Shammi Kapur hogged the limelight in the Press for many days. The two incidents show our social moorings.

RAM NIWAS MALIK, Engineer-in-Chief HSIDC, Panchkula

School sans teachers

Apropos of the editorial “Schools without teachers” (Aug 5), I will say we have schools without management. True, most primary schools have one or two teachers, about 100 students and five classes. But primary school teachers are assigned a host of duties such as Pulse Polio, distribution of wheat and midday meal, preparing caste and gender lists of students, enumeration of voters, incorporating new entries and corrections in the voters’ lists, election work, Sarv Shikhya Abhiyan, population survey and many other departmental duties, all of which are 100 per cent non-educational and have nothing to do with the syllabi of the students.

On the other hand, most middle schools and some high schools have 40 to 100 students, 3-5 classes and 5-10 teachers. They are not burdened with duties entrusted to primary school teachers. In senior schools, lecturers have hardly 5-10 students. According to a report some time ago, one school had eight lecturers for eight students!

To improve the quality of education, the government should merge primary schools with middle and high schools. If this is not possible, shift Classes 4 and 5 to middle and high schools. Lecturers should be asked to take classes from Standard 9 to 12. By doing so, we can overcome the problem of staff shortage even without new recruitment. The District Education Officers should be directed to start elementary education in their respective districts and if any officer does not do his work properly and effectively, stern action should be taken against him/her.


Taking us for a ride

Apropos of your editorial “The Noor effect” (Aug. 13), I beg to differ with the view that lighting more candles on the borders will promote peace. Candles have been lit on the Wagah border by Mr Kuldip Nayar and the group for so many years. Has it brought peace? We Indians are sentimental fools. We are quick to glorify Noor, Munir, Lahore bus etc. And Pakistan always takes us for a ride.

Let us understand that Pakistan has no basis of survival. Its survival is based on hatred of India. The Pakistani Army in general and General Pervez Musharraf in particular would never want peace with India. Peace would mean the end of the Army's supremacy in Pakistan which it will never accept.

So let us learn from the past and be realistic. Unless Pakistan stops sponsoring crossborder terrorism, there is no point in carrying on with empty talks. And when we get the next opportunity, let us not miss it.

MADHU SINGH, Ambala Cantt

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