The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strike-hit Left greets Modi rap

New Delhi, Sept. 14: Left parties, critical of the Supreme Court’s “judicial activism” when it cracked down on strikes last month, have welcomed the court’s intervention in Gujarat.

The court on Friday advised Narendra Modi’s government in Gujarat to quit if it could not protect the “weak” and perform “raj dharma”. It also dubbed the government’s appeal in the Best Bakery case and other riot cases an “eyewash”.

The CPM and the CPI leadership are making a distinction between the Supreme Court’s directive against strikes and its indictment of Modi. “Friday’s directive is within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court’s powers,” said CPM politburo member M.K. Pandhe, also the general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu). “In the case of strikes, the Supreme Court acted beyond its jurisdiction.”

But in the case of Gujarat, he said: “The directive came because the prosecution was kept deliberately weak. The Supreme Court told Modi: ‘if you cannot prosecute you quit’ — and this is well within its jurisdiction.”

CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan sounded a note of caution, saying: “As a matter of principle, it is not for judges to run the country. But this is happening because the executive has become so weak.”

Left leaders said that of late, the court’s intervention in critical areas has been positive, primarily because governments — at the Centre and in states — have failed to act correctly. “This, however, does not mean we are in favour of unbridled judicial activism,” they say. “Unfortunately, we now have the court playing a more and more active role in areas which at one time used to be totally outside its domain.”

Few years ago, the Left slammed an apex court order to shut down polluting industries. It had criticised the court for not taking into account how the order would impact thousands of workers. “Even today these workers who were stripped of their livelihood have not been rehabilitated,” Citu said. The union is planning protests against the court’s August 6 ruling that government employees and the unions representing them have “no legal, fundamental, moral or justifiable and equitable right to strike”.

An all-India convention will be held here on September 26. The Indian Trade Union Congress, which usually keeps away from strikes will join the convention, and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has also signed a circular on the convention. The previous day, central and state government employees are planning a convention in Chennai against Jayalalitha’s “reign of terror”.

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