August 05 Editorial

1] Over the borderline: On Centre’s role in resolving Assam-Mizoram row (GS 2 Federation)

Context –

  • The easing of tensions between Assam and Mizoram, at least at the leadership level, with the respective governments announcing, among other things, the withdrawal of FIRs against the Chief Minister of Assam and a Rajya Sabha MP from Mizoram, is a welcome relief.
  • These actions came after six Assamese police officers and a civilian were killed in a violent gunfight in the Mizoram border town of Vairengte on July 26, exacerbating an already tense situation between the two states.

Impact of the Incident –

  • The retaliatory actions, such as filing FIRs against prominent representatives, came at a time when locals in Assam’s Barak Valley had already erected a blockade, preventing trucks carrying essential goods from entering Mizoram.
  • After all, the governments had made the correct decision to remove their police forces from a four-kilometer “disputed stretch” and hand it over to central paramilitary forces until a permanent solution to the border dispute could be found.
  • However, the “blockade” and the damage to Mizoram’s only rail line made things difficult, prompting the Mizo Bar Association to file a PIL in the Gauhati High Court’s Aizawl Bench against the “economic blockade.”

Duties of Authorities –

  • It should never have gotten to this point. What began as a dispute between residents of the two states over a disputed border area has devolved into a violent police battle, with paramilitary forces doing little to control or stop it.
  • Even as the Assam government must compel residents to avoid continuing the blockade, their role in stopping the violence and securing the peace in the border areas between the States will now be crucial.
  • In order to prevent a repeat of the shooting incident and deaths, an independent investigation into the sequence of events leading up to the shooting must be conducted.

Conclusion –

  • Instead of a purely juridical approach that seeks to address this via the States’ respective historical claims, a method that is used to settle sovereign claims, a concerted, people-oriented approach by the respective authorities with the facilitation of the Centre can strive to achieve that.
  • After all, Assam and Mizoram are both members of the Indian Union, and inter-State cooperation and cohesion are critical to the federal system’s sanctity.

2] No fundamental right to strike (GS 2 FR)

Context –

  • The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, was recently introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Defence to provide for the maintenance of essential defence services in order to “secure the security of the nation and the life and property of the public at large” and prevent workers at government-owned ordnance factories from going on strike.
  • The bill aims to give the government the power to declare certain services as “essential defence services,” prohibiting strikes and lockouts in any industrial establishment or unit providing such services.

Rules and Rights –

  • Parliament can restrict or abrogate the rights of members of the armed forces or forces charged with maintaining public order under Article 33 of the Constitution by law in order to ensure proper discharge of their duties and the maintenance of discipline among them.
  • Thus, even the fundamental right to form an association can be restricted under Article 19(4) in the interest of public order and other considerations for the armed forces and police, where discipline is the most important prerequisite.
  • After the Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966, and the Rules as amended by Amendment Rules, 1970, came into effect, the Supreme Court in Delhi Police v. Union of India (1986) upheld the restrictions on non-gazetted police officers’ ability to form associations.
  • While the right to freedom of association is fundamental, the right to recognition of that association is not. The court held that Parliament can regulate the operation of such organisations through legislation by imposing conditions and limitations on their functions.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in T.K. Rangarajan v. Government of Tamil Nadu (2003) that employees do not have a fundamental right to strike. The Tamil Nadu Government Servants’ Conduct Rules, 1973 also make it illegal to go on strike.

Conclusion –

  • Under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, there is no fundamental right to strike. Strikes can never be justified on the basis of fairness.
  • Strike is frequently misapplied, resulting in chaos.
  • Despite the fact that OFB employees have threatened to strike, Parliament, which has the authority to limit even fundamental military rights, is well within its rights to expressly prohibit strike action.


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