UP Power Workers Strike: Allahabad HC Issues Bailable Warrant Against Union Leaders

Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court recently expressed its displeasure with the ongoing strike by the Uttar Pradesh electricity department employees, despite the court’s December 2022 order that the power supply not be disrupted due to the strike.

A division bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Vinod Diwaker observed that even if the workers’ demand is valid, the entire State cannot be placed under severe constraints by jeopardising overwhelming public interest.

Such act of workers violates the direction of this court for not disrupting power supply. Even national interest is compromised on account of the reduction in the generation of power in different power-generating units of the State. Thus, Prima facie disobedience of this court’s order dated 06.12.2022 is indicated,” the bench remarked.

Given the gravity of the situation, the High Court issued bailable warrants against the Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukt Sangarsh Samiti (VKSSS) office bearers by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow, requiring their presence in court at 10 a.m. on March 20.

The warrants were issued after the court noted that, despite notices being served on the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti through the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Lucknow, no one had entered an appearance in the petition on their behalf until now.

From the night of March 16, the state’s 27 lac electrical workers began a three-day strike that caused the state’s power supply to be disrupted. The strikes are a violation of the court’s December 6, 2022 decision that the power supply not be interrupted, it was informed to the court.

It should be mentioned that the HC’s order from December 2022 was passed after it was informed that Prayagraj’s power supply had been disrupted by a strike by State Power/Electricity Units workers. Thereafter, the Court issued several directives in response to other parts of the State experiencing a similar interruption.

On March 17, when it was brought up before the Court that strikes had been called as a result of the disruption of the power supply, the Court took the matter up and delivered some strong observations.

Copies of newspaper articles were also submitted to the court to demonstrate that there are no employees at the electricity sub-station, which serves the High Court Premises as well, and that only the magistrate and police officers are in charge of keeping the sub-station secure and overseeing the electricity supply.

It was also suggested that the Thermal Power Corporation’s Anpara and Obra plants’ power production had been drastically reduced as a result of the strike call. Moreover, the State Load Dispatch Centre, which manages the electrical grid, does not have any Electricity Department staff on hand.

The division bench noted that the employees’ actions were in violation of the court’s order against the backdrop of these submissions, describing the situation as serious and requiring immediate attention. “Since the Employees’ Association has not entered appearance despite the previous orders passed by this Court and service of notice upon it, we are left with no choice but to issue notices to the Employees’ Association and its office bearers for initiation of contempt proceedings,” the bench stated.

The State authorities were also instructed to ensure that the erring officials or employees face the appropriate legal repercussions in order to ensure compliance with the earlier orders issued by this court on December 6,2022, and to report compliance with the action taken in the matter by that date.

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