Madras High Court Allows Check-off System With Strict Adherence to SOP for Election of Chennai Port Trust Administration Trustees

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The Chennai Port and Dock Workers Congress filed a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. It challenged the impugned notification by the Chennai Port Trust with regard to the ‘Check Off System’. The matter was heard and decided upon by Justice R. Suresh Kumar. 

Facts of the Case

The Chennai Port and Dock Workers Congress is a Trade Union registered under the Trade Unions Act. Employees working under the respondent Chennai Port Trust are the members of the petitioner union. The petitioners challenge the impugned notification, wherein the respondent Port Trust wanted to conduct the election process, otherwise known as ‘Check Off System’. In this process, the respondent Port Trust tries to identify which Trade Union is able to gather more strength for the aim of identifying and nominating two trustees for the Chennai Port Trust Administration. The impugned notification provides 16 days for the process of Check-Off System. 

Arguments before the Court

The counsel for the petitioners argued that owing to the Covid 19 pandemic, some of the members have already been affected. If the election process (Check-Off System) takes place as scheduled under the impugned notification, there is a risk of other members contracting the virus. 

The counsel further contended that the election process should therefore be postponed or cancelled. 

Court’s Observations

The Court observed that the same notification was already challenged in a previous Writ Petition. It was filed by employees having a similar role in the Union of Chennai Port Trust. 

The Court referred to the directions given in the previous Writ Petition where the Court had maintained that:

  • The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be strictly followed
  • During the Check-Off System, social distancing must be strictly maintained
  • Hand sanitizers must be provided on all premises and the employees must use it before entering into a particular premise. 
  • Every employee must wear a mask at all times. 
  • The Supervisors appointed, must oversee the process at all times, and ensure that the SOP is being followed throughout. 

Court’s Orders

The Court found it only natural to incline and give the same directions as in the previous Writ Petition (V.Selvaraj vs. Union of India) referred to by the Court. The Court dismissed the petition thereof. 

To view the original judgment, click here


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