THE ESSENTIAL SERVICES MAINTENANCE ACT, 1981

 

No.40 OF 1981

 

                                                                  [23rd September, 1981.]

 

An Act to provide for the maintenance of certain essential services and the normal life of the community.

Contents

1.Short title, extent, commencement and duration

2.Definitions

3.Power to prohibit strikes in certain employments

4.Dismissal of employees participating in illegal trikes

5.Penalty for illegal strikes

6.Penalty for investigation , etc

7.Penalty for giving financial aid to illegal strikes

8.Power to prohibit lock-outs in certain establishments

9.Power to prohibit lay-off in certain establishments

10.Power to arrest without warrant

11.Offences to be tried summarily

12.Act to override other laws

13.Amendment of Act 41 of 1980

14.Repeal and saving

 

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Thirty-second Year of the Republic of India  as follows:-

 

               

1.Short title, extent, commencement and duration

.-  (1) This Act may be called the Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1981.

 

(2) It extends to the whole of India:

 

                Provided that it shall not apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir in so far as it relates to any essential service connected with matters with respect to which Parliament has no power to make laws for that State.

 

                (3) Sections 8 and 9 shall come into force at once and the remaining provisions of this Act shall be deemed to have come into force on the 26th day of July, 1981.

 

                (4).  It shall cease to have effect on the expiry of four years from the date on which this Act receives the assent of the President except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such cesser of operation of this Act, and section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897,(10 of 1897)  shall apply upon such cesser of operation of this Act as if it had then been repealed by a Central Act.

 

               

2.Definitions

.-  (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,-

 

                      (a) "essential service" means-

 

                                 (I) any postal, telegraph or telephone service, including

any service connected therewith;

             

                                (ii) any railway service or any transport service for the carriage of passengers or goods by air or any other transport service for the carriage of passengers or goods by land or water with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws;

                                (iii)  any service connected with the operation or maintenance of aerodromes, or with the operation, repair or maintenance of aircraft, or any service in the International Airports Authority of India constituted under section 3 of the International Airports Authority Act, 1971;43 of 1971).

 

 (iv)  any service, in or in connection with the working of, any major port, including any service connected with the loading unloading, movement or storage of goods in any such port;

 

                                (v) any services connected with the clearance of goods or passengers through the customs or with the prevention of smuggling;

                                (vi) any service in any establishment of, or connected with, the armed forces of the Union or in any other establishments of installations connected with defence;

 

                                (vii)  any service in any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production of goods required for any purpose connected with defence;

 

                      (viii) any service in any section of any industrial undertaking pertaining to a scheduled  industry on the working of which the safety of such undertaking or the employees employed therein depends.

 

Explanation.-For the purposes of this sub-clause,  the expressions "industrial undertaking" and "scheduled industry" shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in clauses (d) and (i)of section 3 of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951;(65 0f 1951).

 

                 (ix) any service in, or in connection with, the  working  of any undertaking owned or controlled by the Central Government being an undertaking engaged in the purchase, procurement, storage, supply or distribution of foodgrains;

 

                                 (x) any service in, or in connection with the working of any system of public conservancy, sanitation  or water supply, hospitals or dispensaries, in any Union territory, cantonment area or undertaking owned or controlled by the Central Government;

 

                                  (xi) any service in connection with or in relation to banking;

 

                                (xii) any service in any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production, supply or distribution of coal, power, steel or fertilizers;

 

                                (xiii) any service in any oilfield or refinery or in any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production, supply or distribution of petroleum and petroleum products;

 

                                (xiv) any service in any mint or security press;

 

                                (xv)  any service in connection with the affairs of the Union, not being a service specified in any of the foregoing sub-clause;

 

                                (xvi) any service in connection with the affairs of the Union, not being a service specified in any of the foregoing sub-clause.

 

                                (xvii) any other service connected with matters with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws and which the Central Government being of opinion that strikes therein would prejudicially affect the maintenance of any public utility service, the public safety or the maintenance of supplies and services necessary for the life of the community or would result in the infliction grave hardship on the community , may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be an essential service for the purposes of this Act;

 

(b) "strike" means of the cessation of work by a body of persons while employed in any essential service acting in  combination or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are or have been so employed to continue to work or to accept work assigned, and includes--

 

                                (i)refusal to work overtime where such work is necessary for the maintenance of any essential service;

 

                                (ii) any other conduct which is likely to result in, or results in, cessation or substantial retardation of work in any essential service.

 

                (c) words and expressions used in section 8 and 9 not defined, but defined in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947,(14 of 1947)  shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in that Act.

 

(2) Every notification issued under sub-clause (xvii) of clause (a) of sub-section (1) shall be laid before each house of parliament immediately after it is made if it is in session and on the first day of the commencement of the next session of the House if it is not in session, and shall  cease to operate at the expiration of forty days from the date of its being so laid or from  the re-assembly of Parliament, as the case may be, unless before the expiration of that period a resolution approving the issue of the notification is passed by both Houses of Parliament.

 

Explanation- Where the Houses of Parliament are summoned to reassemble on different dates, the period of forty days shall be reckoned from the later of those dates.

 

                (3) Any reference in this Act to any law which is not in force in any area and to any authority under such law shall, in relation to that area. be construed as a reference to the corresponding law in force in that area and to the corresponding authority under such corresponding law.

 

               

3.Power to prohibit strikes in certain employments

.-  (1) If the central government is satisfied  that  in the public  interest  it is  necessary  or  expedient  so  to do,   it  may,  by  general  or special Order ,  prohibit strikes in any essential service specified in the order.

 

(2) An order under  sub-section  (1) shall be  published  in such manner  as the  central government  considers  best calculated  to  bring  it to the notice  of the  person  affected by the  order.

 

                (3) An  order made  under  sub-section (1) shall be  inn force  for six months  only  ,but  the central government  may, by  a like  order , extend  it for  any  period  not  exceeding  six  months if it is  satisfied  that in the  public  interest  it is  necessary  or  expedient so to do.

 

                 (4) Upon  the issue  of an  order  under sub-section  (1),-

        

                        (a)  no person employed  in any  essential  service  to which the order shall  go or remain  on  strike;

 

                                (b)any strike declared  or commenced  whether  before  or after  the issue of the  order , by  persons employed in  any  such  service  shall be illegal.

 

 

4.Dismissal of employees participating in illegal trikes

.- Any person , -

 

 (a) Who commences a strike  which is  illegal under  this  Act or  goes  or remains on, or  otherwise  takes  part in, any  such  strike  ; or

 

                                (b) who investigate  or incites other  persons  to commence , or  go  or remain on , or  otherwise  take  part in , any  such  strike,

 

shall be  liable to disciplinary  action (including  dismissal ) in accordance  with the same provisions as are pplicable  for the purpose of taking  such  disciplinary  action (including dismissal ) on  any other  ground  under the terms  and  conditions of service  applicable  to him  in relation  to  his employment.

 

               

5.Penalty for illegal strikes

.- Any  person  who commences a strike  which is illegal  under this Act  or goes or remains on  , or   otherwise  takes  part in , any such strike shall be  punishable  with imprisonment  for a  term  which  may extend  to six months, or  with  fine  which  may  extend to  one thousand rupees , or with  both.

 

               

6.Penalty for investigation , etc

.-  Any person  who investigates or  incites other  persons  to take part in, or otherwise  acts  in furtherance of , a  strike  which  is illegal  under  this act  shall be  punishable  with imprisonment  for a  term  which  may extend  to one year, or  with  fine  which  may  extend to two  thousand rupees , or with  both.

 

               

7.Penalty for giving financial aid to illegal strikes

.- Any person  who  knowingly  expends or  supplies  any  money  in furtherance  or  support  of strike  which is illegal  under  this act  shall be  punishable  with imprisonment  for a  term  which  may extend  to one year, or  with  fine  which  may  extend to two  thousand rupees , or with  both.

 

               

8.Power to prohibit lock-outs in certain establishments

.- (1) If the central government  is satisfied that  in the  public  interest it is necessary  or expedient  so to  do , it  may  by  general or special  order, prohibit  lock-outs  in any  establishment  pertaining  to any  essential  service  specified  in the  order.

 

                (2)  An order made under  sub-section  (1) shall be published  in such manner as the central government  considers best calculated  to bring  it  to the notice  of the persons  affected  by the  order.

 

(3) A n order made by sub-section (1) shall be  in force  for six months  only, but the central government  may, by a like  order extend  it for any  period  not  exceeding  six months  if it is satisfied  that in the public  interest  it is  necessary  so to do.

 

                (4)  Upon the issue of an order under , sub-section (1),-

 

                                 (a) no employer  in relation  to an establishment  to which  the  order applies  shall  commences  any  lock-out;

 

                                 (b) any  lock-out  declared  or commenced  whether  before  of after the issue  of the order  by any  employer  in relation  to an  establishment  to which  the order  applies shall  be illegal .

 

                (5)  Any  employer  in relation to an establishment  who commences continues  or otherwise  acts in furtherance  of a lock-out  which  is illegal  under this  section,  shall be  punishable  with  imprisonment  for a term  which  may  extend  to six  months  , or  with  fine which may  extend  to one  thousand  rupees or  with  both.

 

 

9.Power to prohibit lay-off in certain establishments

.-  (1) If the  central government  is satisfied  that in the  public  interest  it is necessary  or expedient  so to do , it  may , by  general  or  special  order, prohibit  lay-off, on any  ground  other  than shortage  of power   or natural  calamity, of any  workman  (other  than  a badli workman  or a  casual  workman  ) whose  name  is borne  on the  muster  rolls  of any  establishment  pertaining  to any  essential  service specified  in the order.

 

                (2) An order  made under  sub-section (1) shall be  published  in such manner  as the  central government  considers  best  calculated  to bring  it  to the  notice  of the persons  affected  by the order.

 

                (3) A n order made by sub-section (1) shall be  in force  for six months  only, but the central government  may, by a like  order ,extend  it for any  period  not  exceeding  six months  if it is satisfied  that in the public  interest  it is  necessary  or expedient  so to do.

 

                (4)  Upon the issue of  an order  under  sub-section (1),-

 

                                 (a)  no employer  in relation to an establishment to which  the order  applies shall  lay-off  or continue  the lay-off  any workman (  other than  a badli  workman  or a casual  workman  ) whose  name  is borne   on the  muster  rolls of such  establishment  unless such lay-off  is  due to  shortage  of power  or to  natural  calamity  and  any  laying  off  or  continuation  of laying-off  shall  unless  such  laying-off  or  continuation  of laying-off  is due to  shortage   of power  or to  natural   calamity  , be  illegal;

 

                                (b) a workman  whose  laying-off  is illegal  under  clause  (a) shall be  entitled  to all  the benefits  under   any law for  the time  being  in forces  as if  he had not been  laid-off.

 

                (5) Any  employer  in relation  to an establishment  who lays off or continues  the laying off  of any  workman  shall, if  such  laying-off  or continuation  of laying-off  is illegal  under   this  section, be  punishable  with  imprisonment  for   a term  which  may extend to six  months , or  with fine  which  may  extend  to one  thousand  rupees, or  with both.

 

 

10.Power to arrest without warrant

.- Notwithstanding  anything  contained  in the  code of  criminal  procedure  , 1973, any  police  officer  may  arrest  without  warrant  any person  who is  reasonably   suspected  of having  committed  any  offence  under  this  Act (2 of 1974).

 

 

11.Offences to be tried summarily

.- Notwithstanding   anything  contained  in the  code of  criminal  procedure  , 1973, all Offences  under  this Act  shall be  tried  in  a summary  way  by  any  metropolitan  magistrate , or  any  judicial  magistrate  of the first class  specially  empowered  in this  behalf   by  the   state   government   and the  provisions  of sections  262 to 265 (both  inclusive ) of  the  said  code  shall as far as may be  apply to such  trial;(2 of 1974).

 

                Provided  that in a case of conviction  for any offence  in a summary  trial under  this  section , it shall  be  lawful  for the  magistrate  to pass  a sentence  of imprisonment   for any term  for which  such  offence  is punishable  under  this Act.

 

               

12.Act to override other laws

.-  The  provisions  of this  Act  and of  any  order issued  thereunder  shall effect  notwithstanding  anything  inconsistent  therewith   contained  in the  industrial  disputes  Act,1947,(14 of 1947) or any   other  law for the  time  being  in force.

 

 

13.Amendment of Act 41 of 1980

.-  During  the continuance in force  of this  Act , the  essential  services  Maintenance  (Assam) Act ,  1980 , shall have effect  as if;-

                

                                (a) in section 2 , -

 

                                     (1) in sub-section (1),-

    

                                                (i) clause  (a) had  been omitted ;

 

                                                (ii) for clause (b), the  following  clauses  had  been substituted , namely:-

               

                                (b) "essential  service " means -

                                       

                                                (i)  any transport service for the carriage of passengers  or goods  by land  or  water ,  with respect to which  the  legislative  Assembly of the  state of Assam  has  power to    make  laws;

 

                                                (ii) any service connected with the production , storage, or distribution , as the case may be  of gas  or water;

               

                                                (iii) any service  connected  with the maintenance  of public  health and  sanitation , including  hospitals and dispensaries.

 

                                                (iv) any public services  and posts  in connected with the affairs  of the  state , and also  persons  appointed  to the  secretarial  staff of the  legislative  Assembly  of the  state of Assam;

 

                                                (v) any  other services  or employment  or class  thereof , connected  with matters  with respect to which  the  legislative Assembly  of the  state of Assam  has power to make  laws  and   which the  state government , being of  opinion  that  strikes  therein  would  prejudicially   affect  the maintenance  of any   public  utility  service, the public  safely  of the maintenance  of the supplies   and  services  necessary for the  life of  the community  or would   result  in the  infliction  of grave hardship on the  community, may, by notification  in the official  gazette, declare  to  be  an essential  service  for the purposes  of this  Act;

 

(bb)  " state government " means  the state government  of Assam ;'';

 

                                (2) in sub-section (2) for the  words , brackets  and figures  "under  sub-clause (xiv) ", the  words , brackets  and figure  "under  sub-clause  (v) " had been  substituted;

 

                (b) in sections 3  and 9 , for the  words  "appropriate  government ", wherever  they  occur , the  words    "state government  " had  been substituted.

 

               

14.Repeal and saving

.- (1) The  Essential Services  Maintenance Ordinance , 1981, is  here by repealed.

 

                 (2) Notwithstanding such repeal , anything  done  or any action  taken under the said  ordinance shall be deemed  to have  been done or taken  under  the  corresponding  provisions  of this  Act.