Right of Lawyers to Strike in India: Ex Captain Harish Uppal V. Union of India

Topics: Strike action, Trade union, Human rights Pages: 11 (3882 words) Published: January 17, 2013

Exceptions to the Right to Strike

Table of Contents
Research methodology:4
What is the right to strike and why do we need it?5
Case review7

1. Communist Party of India (M) v. Bharat Kumar, (1998) 1 SCC 201, (Supreme Court of India). 2. Ex- Capt. Harish Uppal v. The Union of India, (2003) 2 SCC 45, Supreme Court of India. 3. Raghubar v. Union of India, AIR 1962 SC 263, 270 (Supreme Court of India). 4. See B.L. Wadehra (Dr) v. State (NCT of Delhi), 9 AIR 2000 Del 266. 5. T.K. Rangarajan v. Government of Tamil Nadu, 2003 (6) SCALE 84, (Supreme Court of India). 6. U.P. Sales Tax Service Assn. v. Taxation Bar Assn., (1995) 5 SCC 716, (Supreme Court of India). TABLE OF STATUTES

1. The Advocates Act, 1961.

The right to strike is one of the fundamental corollaries of the right to freedom of association. This right of association provides individuals the means to organise themselves into groups for the purpose of upholding mutual interests, and in general terms, it has come to mean the right of workers to organise themselves into autonomous and representative groups for demanding their basic rights from their employees. Workers dissatisfied with the existing conditions of work require a legitimate means of protest so as to sensitise the authorities towards their problems, with the expectation that these problems will be solved. One such common means of protest is the ‘strike’, defined by the Committee of Experts of the International Labour Organisation as “Any work stoppage, however brief and limited.” Almost every country in the world allows for some form of protest in context of the freedom of association. However, the right to strike is not unlimited. There are certain categories of workers who are not permitted to strike on grounds that they perform vital services, without which the basic rights of other citizens (e.g. personal safety, health, life, etc.) will be obstructed. In the Indian context, there are numerous cases in which the right to strike has been prohibited for certain groups. One such case is the Ex- Capt. Harish Uppal v. The Union of India and anr., which is based on the issue of whether lawyers have the right to strike. Lawyers, in context of popular perception, are considered part of a profession that is expected to uphold justice; hence, their services may be considered essential to the functioning of the system of law and order. However, as with any other class of workers, they themselves will very rightly have grievances which also need to be addressed. This paper thus looks into the exemptions to the right to strike, with focus on whether the interests of lawyers ought to be protected in context of the freedom of association, or whether lawyers ought to be denied the right to strike in the interest of greater public good.

What is the right to strike and why do we need it?

The right to freedom of association, i.e. the freedom of organisation by people looking to promote common interests, has been acknowledged as a basic human right. For workers, in particular, the right to freedom of association is of importance as it allows them a platform through which they can put forward their grievances in an institutionalized manner. A vital off shoot of this right is the Right to Strike. Strike, at the basic level, is defined as “a cessation of work by a combination of employed persons in consequence of a dispute, done as a means of inducing their employer or any other employed persons accept or refute their terms of employment.” It is expected that by withdrawing their services altogether, the workers would be able to highlight the intrinsic importance of these services. Alternatively, the inconvenience caused by a strike could...
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