Chennai, July 6 (PTI): Paving the way for a possible end to the five-day strike by government employees and teachers, Madras High Court tonight directed the conditional release of arrested employees and ordered that their suspensions and dismissals be kept in abeyance.
In an interim order passed at his residence, Justice P.D. Dinakaran also directed the state government not to fill up the posts without holding an inquiry.
Chief minister Jayalalithaa yesterday sacked over one lakh government employees who had struck work since Wednesday to press for their demands, including restoration of pension benefits. It followed Friday’s ordinance amending the Essential Services Maintenance Act, which had already banned the strike. The ordinance armed the authorities to impose any penalty, including “dismissal”, without inquiry.
The employees’ union that gave the strike call is holding a meeting tonight to decide its next course of action.
In a 13-page order on the writ petitions challenging Jayalalithaa’s action, Justice Dinakaran said his orders would not stop the government from withdrawal punitive action against the employees, if it wished to do so.
The government was also free to resolve issues raised by negotiations, pending disposal of the petition.
The judge directed all employees arrested for alleged offences under Sections 4 and 5 of the act be released regardless of whether they were members of the petitioners’ association.
The order will be applicable only to those who gave an undertaking before police or jail authorities that they will not instigate others to participate in the strike and will not involve themselves in any action which would attract Sections 4 and 5 of the act.
Dinakaran said the order would apply to those against whom cases had been registered under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act.
He directed that all suspension and dismissal orders issued without conducting an inquiry be kept in abeyance and the employees be permitted to join duty immediately in light of their undertaking before the high court yesterday.