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HC asks auto, taxi unions to spell out reason for strike

Bombay High Court

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court today directed unions of autorickshaw and taxi drivers to file an affidavit stating the reason behind their strike on June 15 and 17 in Mumbai.

Taxi and autoriskshaw drivers had gone on a strike on these two days in the city seeking implementation of the proposed hike in fares and against the scrapping of the one-man committee which had recommended the hike.

A division bench of justices N H Patil and S B Shukre was informed by advocate Uday Warunjikar appearing for Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumer body which has opposed the fare hikes and also the one-man Hakim committee, that the high court had in August 2013 observed that the taxi and auto unions should not threaten to go on strikes time and again.

Warunjikar argued that by going on strike again, the unions have committed contempt of the court’s order and appropriate action should be taken against them.

The high court directed both the auto and taxi unions to file their affidavits by June 23.

The court has also sought an affidavit from the Maharashtra government on what stand it would take on the proposed hike until a high-level committee decides the issue.

The state government had approached the high court seeking approval for the proposed auto and taxi fare hike announced by the Mumbai Metropolitan Road Transport Authority (MMRTA). 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 on fare hike.

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

The MMRTA had on May 11 proposed a hike in the basic fare for autorickshaws and taxis. The minimum fare for autos is expected to go up from Rs 17 to Rs 18, while taxi fare is likely to go up from the minimum Rs 21 to Rs 22.

The hike will come into effect only after the meters of the over 1.05 lakh autos and over 35,000 taxis in the city are re-calibrated. The hike was announced following recommendation of the one-man Hakim Committee.

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