No Fundamental Right to Strike – UPSC GS2

Context: Essential Defence Services Bill introduced by Ministry of Defence for maintenance of essential defence services & to prevent government-owned ordinance factory’s staff from going on strike.
Previous such strikes by government employees and government actions:
This is not the first time that strikes by government employees are being made explicitly illegal by the government.
  • MP (And Chhattisgarh) Civil Services Rule 1965: Prohibits the strike or any activity resulting in halting of work. Other states also have similar provisions.
  • Article 33: Restrict the fundamental right of armed police forces to ensure proper discharge of their duties and maintenance of discipline among them.
Gandhi View:
  • A Gaya Havaldar was convicted. Gaya police gave notice of strike until relief was provided to Havaldar. The strike was commenced on March 24, 1947.
  • When some representatives of policemen met Gandhi, he mentioned that “the police… should never go on strike. Theirs was an essential service and they should render that service, irrespective of their pay. There were several other effective and honourable means of getting grievances redressed…”
Supreme Court observations:
  • Delhi Police vs Union of India (1986) case : Upheld the restrictions to form association after the amendment of Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act 1966. The court also said that although Freedom of Association is a fundamental right under Article 19(1), the recognition of that association is not. So, parliament by law can impose restrictions
  • K Rangarajan vs Govt of TN (2003) case : The SC held that employees have no fundamental right to strike.
Conclusion:
  • There is no fundamental right to strike under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  • Parliament has the right to restrict even the fundamental rights of the armed forces.