Govt invokes Esma after 17 yrs, deflates protest

Govt invokes Esma after 17 yrs, deflates protest

Govt invokes Esma after 17 yrs, deflates protest
In a swift move, the state government invoked provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act, popularily known as Esma, against Namma Metro employees who went on a flash strike on Friday morning.

As soon as a notification invoking Esma was issued by the Urban Development Department (UDD), the agitating employees withdrew their strike fearing arrest. Esma empowers the state government to crack down on “illegal strikes”.

The UDD notification stated that section 3 of Esma has been invoked and the strike by the employees and officers of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has been declared illegal in the interests of commuters.

It is after a long time that the government actually invoked Esma. The act can be invoked whenever essential services like public transport, health services, supply of water, milk and electricity are affected.

The government didn’t invoke Esma when employees of state-run transport corporations went on strike for four days in support of their demands, but only threatened to do so. The last time Esma was invoked in Karnataka was in 2000 when pre-university teachers boycotted evaluation of answer scripts for more than a month. Esma has stringent penal provisions.

Persons who violate the act can be imprisoned for a year or fined Rs 5,000 or both. They can be arrested without a warrant and all offences under Esma are non-bailable. Once Esma is imposed, a person cannot take recourse to any other act.

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