T.K Rangarajan vs. Government of Tamil Nadu and Others provides a definite answer whether the government employees have the statutory right to strike. It also deals with filing the case by the aggrieved employee in the appropriate forum.
BENCH: Justice M.B Shah and Justice AR Lakshmanan
T.K RANGARAJAN JUDGEMENT DATE: August 6th, 2003
T.K RANGARAJAN CASE CITATION: (2003) 6 SCC 581
T.K RANGARAJAN CASE FACTS:
- The Tamil Nadu Government terminated the services of over 2 lakh employees who were striking. It also arrested and put them behind bars for the same reason.
- They filed a writ petition under Article 226 in the High Court of Madras, challenging the action of the Government.
- The single bench passed an interim order directing the state government to suspend the dismissal of the employees until further order and after a proper inquiry. Then the state government filed the writ appeal, challenging the interim order.
- The writ petition filed by the government employees challenged the validity of the Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2002 and Tamil Nadu Ordinance no. 3 of 2003.
- Then the division bench of the High Court set aside the order of the single bench and held that the employee’s petition was not maintainable and concluded by referring to the case of L Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India that employees shall approach first the administrative tribunal.
- It was stated in the court that the employees who were arrested were mainly clerks and subordinate staff and their pathetic conditions were also revealed. The court further directed to release them on bail.
- Then again, writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court under Article 32 and Article 226 challenging the order of the High Court.
- Whether the government employees have the statutory right to strike or not?
- Whether the Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2000 is constitutionally valid or not?
- Justice M.B Shah and Justice AR Lakshmanan: The Bench stated that the government employees do not have a statutory or fundamental right to strike as there is no law regarding it and also according to Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act they are prohibited to go on a strike.
- They further stated that a strike is a powerful weapon, and it affects society as a whole and the government employees cannot go on a strike affecting society. Therefore, it is not justified to go on strike on unreasonable grounds.
- They further stated that the employees are eligible for alternative methods for their grievances. It directed them to refer their grievances to the Administrative Tribunal, but if the tribunals cannot serve justice, then only it can be referred to the High Court.
- The court disposed of the appeals and writ petitions accordingly and held that the government employees do not have the statutory or fundamental right to strike under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, and the Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act.
- It also directed to refer the secretarial staff and officers of higher positions as suspended instead of dismissed and reinstated the services of some employees who were dismissed.
- It did not deal with the constitutional validity of the Tamil Nadu Essential Services Maintenance Act as it reinstated the employees in their services.
- In this case, we can state that the strike is considered a powerful weapon that can affect many people and if it is used in a misguided way, then it can cause losses as well as it can be dangerous. It also states that government employees do not have the statutory as well as a fundamental right to strike. The main issue that this case avoided is the dismissal of many employees. This case was in publicity because of the negative judgment of the Supreme Court.
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