The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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DMK strike plea at Atal door

New Delhi/Chennai, July 7 (PTI): Union environment minister T.R. Baalu today met Atal Bihari Vajpayee to convey M. Karunanidhi’s appeal for the Centre’s intervention to protect the rights of striking workers in Tamil Nadu.

Baalu, who handed over the DMK president’s letter to the Prime Minister, said Vajpayee had said he was “very much concerned about the grave matter” and would do what is “appropriate”.

In the letter, Karunanidhi accused the Jayalalithaa government of putting the state machinery in “utter chaos” and sought Vajpayee’s intervention to direct the attorney-general to seek directives from the Supreme Court to “restore the constitutional rights” of the striking state government employees and teachers.

Karunanidhi alleged that while the government had failed in striking a negotiated settlement with the employees, it was planning to recruit 15,000 people from the ruling party cadre without adhering to procedure.

Last night, a judge of Madras High Court had ordered the release of employees arrested in connection with the strike and permitted them to resume duty forthwith, but a division bench had stayed this order within hours.

Justice P.D. Dinakaran also directed the government, in an interim order passed at his residence on a bunch of writ petitions filed by an employees’ organisation, not to fill up without inquiry the posts held by the employees against whom orders of suspension or dismissal were pending.

However, the state government today started recruiting temporary staff. Interviews were held at the secretariat and in district collectorates, official sources said. The appointment orders for those who attended the interviews are likely to be handed over to them soon, they added.

In his appeal to the Prime Minister, Karunanidhi accused the Tamil Nadu government of “violating” Supreme Court guidelines by resorting to midnight arrests of employees.

About two lakh government employees were “summarily” dismissed without an opportunity to explain their case and thus many “families were suffering both mentally and financially”, pointed out the DMK leader.

“As I feel that the existing situation in Tamil Nadu may lead to the failure of the constitutional machinery, I request the Prime Minister to instruct the attorney-general of India to appear before the Supreme Court suo motu to immediately put an end to the unconstitutional acts of the Tamil Nadu government,” he said.

Karunanidhi said the ordinance that empowered the state to summarily dismiss the employees was in violation of Article 311 of the Constitution.

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