33-year-long legal battle on wages ends

New Delhi, June 24 (Calcutta Tube) The curtains have finally come down on a 33-year-long legal battle, with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of a group of now-extinct railway coach attendants who wanted higher wages.

The legal battle was started by 5,000-odd attendants, tasked to assist passengers in trains, but only about 80 of them are alive today to rejoice the verdict delivered Wednesday.

The vacation bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice R.M. Lodha and comprising Justice A.K. Patnaik finally granted the petitioner Group ‘D’ coach attendants pay scales and status of the higher-paid Group ‘C’ coach attendants.

Only two petitioners were present in the courtroom when the order was pronounced and the satisfaction of having won the battle was writ large on their faces.

The court’s sympathy for the coach attendants seeking parity with their higher-paid counterparts was demonstrated when, in an earlier hearing, the court told the central government: ‘Don’t be heartless.’

The cadre of coach attendants does not exist any more.

Though the legal battle was started by Sharafat Ali and a few others in 1977, the fight was later taken up by the All India Shramik and Coach Attendants Welfare Association.

The case reached the Additional Munsif, Kanpur, in 1977, with the petitioners seeking direction to the union of India that they be given the payscale of Rs.110-180 prior to 1973 and the revised scale of Rs.260-400 under the Second Pay Commission from Jan 1, 1973.

The Additional Munsif’s court Aug 30, 1980 ruled in favour of the coach attendants.

The order was challenged by the central government in 1981. In the course of this legal journey, the matter reached the apex court thrice.

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