A law prohibiting government servants from going on strike or having any demonstration for seeking their grievances redressed. Examine the Constitutional validity of the law.

By | May 26, 2021
Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series

Question: A law prohibiting government servants from going on strike or having any demonstration for seeking their grievances redressed. Examine the Constitutional validity of the law. [BJS 1975]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [A law prohibiting government servants from going on strike or having any demonstration for seeking their grievances redressed. Examine the Constitutional validity of the law.]

Answer

Article 19 (1) (c) of the Indian Constitution grants the fundamental right to its citizens to form associations or unions [cooperative societies] and to strike peacefully. 

While Article 19(4) provides that the state has the power to make any law that is in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality. The state can put reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by Article 19 (1) (c) and the strike was undertaken under said sub-clause shall be reasonable and brought in the notice to the employer.

The present issue at hand arose in the case of Kameshwar Prasad & Others v. The State Of Bihar (1962 AIR 1166). In this case, the constitutional validity of the Bihar Government Servants Conduct Rules 1956 was challenged on the ground that it prohibited government servants from participating in strikes or demonstrations rule pertaining to conditions of service.

When the matter approached Supreme Court, it held that that Rule 4-A of the Bihar Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1956 in so far as it prohibited any form of demonstration, be it, however, innocent or however incapable of causing a breach of public tranquillity, was violative of Articles 19 (1) (a) and 19 (1)(b) of the Constitution of India, and therefore the entire rule that put a blanket restriction without any exceptions should be struck down in its entirety.

On account of the nature of the duties which government servants discharge, certain restrictions on their freedoms might have to be imposed. In that regards, to the extent, the rule that prohibited strikes was valid, because there was no fundamental right to resort to a strike. 

Notably, the Right to Strike is not a fundamental right in India but the right to strike in an ancillary right under Article 19 (1) (c). If not given, the right to form associations will be hollow and illusory. The Indian judiciary through the series of judicial decisions emphasized the legality or illegality of strike but didn’t impose a ban on the right to strike.

In the case of Indian Express Newspapers Bombay Pvt. Ltd. v TM Nagarajan [1987 (15) DRJ 212], the court held that peaceful strikes can be conducted by the workers to force the employer to fulfil their demands. In B.R. Singh v Union of India (1989 SCR Supl. (1) 257), the court held that it is very essential for the trade union to have sufficient membership which can be secured through agitation methods such as strike, go slow etc. It was further held that strike is an inherent right that protects the liberty of workers. 

In a recent decision of the Supreme Court on this matter, it was held that the right to strike is a legal right and not a fundamental right. The reason behind so is that such right if made fundamental in nature will undermine the economic structure of the country. 

Therefore, the present law which is prohibiting government services to go on strike is valid only if the government has a reasonable objective to do so in order to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, otherwise the case of prohibiting any demonstration for seeking their grievances redressed, it will be held as unreasonable and arbitrary under the Indian Constitution.


Important Mains Questions Series  for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-I
  3. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-II
  4. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Constitutional Law Mains Questions Series Part-X

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