Mumbai: HC seeks auto, taxi unions' replies for going on strike

The Bombay High Court today directed auto and taxi unions to file their affidavits in reply to a contempt petition filed against them by a consumer body for resorting to strike despite court orders.

A division bench of Justices N H Patil and S B Shukre was hearing a petition filed by NGO Mumbai Grahak Panchayat seeking contempt action against auto and taxi unions for going on strike last month.

According to the NGO, the unions had violated a 2013 order of the high court which had asked the them not to resort to strikes in future.

The NGO had moved the court after taxi and auto-rickshaw unions went on strike on June 15 and 17 in the city. The taxi and rickshaw drivers had gone on a strike seeking implementation of a proposed hike in fares and against scrapping of Hakim Committee which recommended it.

Today, while directing the unions to file their affidavits, the high court said "why did you go on strike when the matter was in court? You should have made a better choice."

The unions have to file their affidavits in three weeks.

The state government had earlier approached the court seeking approval for the proposed fare hike announced by the Mumbai Metropolitan Road Transport Authority. The state informed that it had formed a high-level committee headed by a retired judge of the Bombay High Court after scrapping the Hakim Committee.

The HC approval is necessary as a PIL by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat had challenged the Hakim panel and its findings a few years ago.

Accordingly, the court accepted the state's stand that until the new committee submits its recommendations the Hakim Committee report will be implemented and the fares would be hiked.

As per the revised rates, the minimum fare for auto is expected to go up from Rs 17 to Rs 18, while taxi fare from the minimum Rs 21 to Rs 22.

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