The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Central and Western Railways based on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking Rs 5 crore by way of compensation for 50 lakh regular train commuters for the hardship and inconvenience they faced due to the motormen’s strike on May 3 and 4.
Mumbai Grahak Panchayat has filed the PIL in representative capacity and has sought orders against the Railways to deposit the compensation amount in the Maharashtra State Consumer Welfare Fund.
Uday Warunjikar, counsel for the petitioner organisation, argued that besides the motormen’s strike, there were strikes by autorickshaw, taxi, and BEST drivers in the recent months.
“These are four services, which virtually run the city,” said Warunjikar, urging the court to frame certain guidelines for maintaining these essential services and ensuring such strikes do not occur again. “Why did railway authorities not invoke Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) during the strike?” asked Warunjikar.
All 620 motormen of Western and Central Railways had gone on a hunger strike, resulting in chaos and bringing the city to a standstill for two days.
However, railway’s counsel Sushil Kumar said the railways had promptly filed a petition in the high court when the strike began, following which it directed motormen to resume duty and the strike ended.
The PIL will come up for further hearing after four weeks.