As the traders’ stir over the implementation of local body tax (LBT) intensifies, legal experts said holding the city to ransom and inconveniencing common people is nothing short of illegal.
The Supreme Court and Bombay high court have, on various occasions, ruled such strikes to be illegal, they said. “It is an illegal strike,” said lawyer Uday Warunjikar.
Advocate Samir Vaidya said any strike that affects the availability of essential commodities is illegal. “Anything to do with essential requirements should never go on strike,” he said.
Advocate Arfan Sait said the government can invoke its power under relevant Acts that deal with services and commodities, though under article 19 of the Constitution, there is a right to form associations and a right to strike. “But these are not absolute rights,” he said.
The Bombay high court has, on occasions such as the pilots’ strike, motormens’ strike, teachers’ strike and bandhs called by political parties, observed that such strikes affect the masses and are illegal. In 2005, the court had slammed two political parties for calling bandh and subsequently declared bandh to be violative of the Constitution and of the citizens’ right to work and move freely.
Warunjikar feels the court can intervene since this is a socio-political issue and suggests that somebody should file a petition. Vaidya too believes the courts would be justified in intervening as traders are holding the public to ransom.
“Court can always take suo motu cognisance,” Sait said.