Mumbai: The Bombay high court, on Thursday, said that in a fight between a lion and a lamb, the lamb has to be protected, while asking the striking workers of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to resume duty by April 22.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta has also asked the MSRTC not to take any action against their workers.
“We will keep our constitutional ideals in mind that when it is a fight between the lion and the lamb, the lamb has to be protected,” said CJ Datta.
The HC is hearing a contempt petition filed by MSRTC against its employees who have been on strike since the mid-night of November 3-4, last year. Their demand was that the MSTRTC be merged with the state government and that they should be treated at par with the government employees.
On Wednesday, the HC had given time till April15 to the workers to resume duty. On Thursday, it extended this time till April 22.
“We are extending the date till April 22. The workers should not repeat the offences in future,” said CJ Datta. The court further said that it was striving to arrive at a situation where there were not further deaths by suicide.
CJ Datta added: “The court is also striving to arrive at a situation where there are no further deaths either by suicide or natural causes just because someone has lost their livelihood. We don't want that. We want all the employees to return to work.”
While extending the date to join work the court said that only those workers who resume duty will be protected, whereas those who do not resume, do so at their own risk and peril.
Aspi Chenoy, counsel for the corporation, said that they would take back all the striking employees and would not initiate any action against them except a warning.
After the court said that they would pass an order reinstating all the workers, including those against whom FIRs were filed for violence, Chenoy said that the corporation will reinstate those workers too.
However, Chenoy said that it should not be set as precedent to which the court agreed saying it was a special situation.
The state government informed the HC on Tuesday that it had accepted the recommendations of the three-member committee which said that it was not feasible to merge MSRTC with the state government.