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Banning Strike of Pilots of Air India is unjustified: PUCL Press Release

by PUCL Delhi, 4 May 2011

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People’s Union for Civil Liberties: Delhi

F-24/72, Ground Floor, Sector-3, Rohini, Delhi 110085.
- Email: pucldelhi[at]
- President: N.D. Pancholi
- Vice-Presidents: Fr. T.K. John,
- General Secretary: Shivakant Gorakhpuri
- Treasurer: Jaipal Nehra
Secretaries: -Satyendra Ranjan 9811099532
- Dharam Vir 9868505324
- Alka (Ms.) 9990320640

Date: 5th May, 2011

Banning pilots strike is unjustified

It is really disturbing to read from newspapers reports that the
Delhi High Court has directed the striking pilots of Air India to discontinue
their agitation and resume work. We fail to understand as to under what law
such an order can be passed. Peaceful demonstrations are part of the
fundamental rights of free speech and also of the right of assembly which are guaranteed under article 19 (a) and (b) of the Constitution. The Supreme Court as long back as in 1962 in the matter of Kameshwar Prasad Vs. State of Bihar has held that demonstration is a visible representation of the feelings or sentiments of an individual or group and is part of fundamental right of free speech. (AIR 1962 SC 1166). Any prohibition or restriction of the right of citizens to hold peaceful demonstration to express their feelings will prima facie be violative of the fundamental right to free speech. Only violent demonstrations can be restrained.

Further, strikes and lockouts are weapons in the armoury of labour
and management in the process of collective bargaining all over the world. These rights have been recognized under the Industrial Disputes Act. Right to strike or lockout can only be controlled or regulated by industrial legislation, and not by courts. As stated by the Supreme Court in the matter of Gujrat Steel Tubes Ltd. Vs. Gujrat Steel Tubes Mazdoor Sabha (1980)(1) LLJ 137 seeking to retrain the strike on substantial and righteous demands often leads not to industrial peace but to seething unrest and lawlessness.

Giving directions/injunctions to employees to join duty is also violative of the settled law under which contract of personal service cannot be enforced by courts except under certain statutory exceptions.