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SC urges Jaya to take back workers

New Delhi, July 21: The Supreme Court today urged Tamil Nadu to take back the 200,000 employees it had sacked for striking work, but also severely reprimanded the workers.

Hearing the petitions of the employees, a division bench of Justices M.B. Shah and Ar. Lakshmanan said the “mindset is so polluted that employees across the country resort to strikes forgetting their fundamental duties”.

When senior counsel A.R. Andhiyarjuna commenced arguments for C. Kuppuswamy, the DMK MP who had filed a special leave petition against the state’s sack order, the bench wanted to know “what constitutional right” the workers had to strike work.

Citing Article 311(2) of the Constitution, Andhiyarjuna contended the state had infringed the employees’ fundamental right. The bench shot back: “What about their fundamental duties' They owe a fundamental duty to the state. You are ransoming a state and its people. If 200,000 employees go on strike even for one day, the state is paralysed. You know this court’s decision on various strike calls.”

The bench cited the Thuka Ram case in which the dismissal of striking railway workers was upheld. But on humanitarian grounds, they were asked to be taken back with the undertaking they would not strike again.

Applying the same formula, the bench told state counsel K.K. Venugopal to take back the workers with a written “unconditional apology” and “an undertaking that they would abide by Rule 22 declaring strikes as illegal”.

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