Odisha ESMA Bill amended; 1 yr jail or up to Rs 5K fine for encouraging illegal strikes

Bhubaneswar: The state government today amended the provisions to expand the scope of essential services to be banned. Any government employee who participates in the illegal strike will face disciplinary action and any person who incites other persons to participate in the strike will be punishable with imprisonment up to one year or with fine up to Rs 5000 or both.

This was announced by Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra after the passage of the Odisha Essential Services (Maintenance) Bill, 2020 in the state assembly today.

Piloting the Bill, Minister Mishra said, “The Odisha Essential Service (Maintenance) Act, 1988 was enacted to provide for the maintenance of certain essential services and the normal life of the community in Odisha. But the scope of the said Act is quite limited. In order to expand the scope  of the service s covered under the said Act, Some other services, disruption of which results in grave hardships to the general public and jeopardises the public administration, are proposed to be brought under the purview of the said Act by way of amendment.”

Any service connected with maintenance of fire safety, public order, public safety & security, excise, forest, prison and correctional service, any service in connection with the working of any establishment or undertaking or Agency owned or controlled the by the State Government engaged in the purchase, procurement, storage , supply or distribution of food grains have been included within the definition of  ” essential service”.

Besides, any services relating to Electronics, Information and Communication, have been declared essential services.

The state government can by notification declare any other service in connection with the affairs of the State on which it is of the opinion that the strikes therein would prejudicially affect the maintenance of any public utility service or services necessary for the life of the community, said the Minister of State for Home.

A new provision was also inserted in the Bill for imposing a penalty against an individual who expends or supplies any money in furtherance of or in support of strike which is illegal making such offence punishable with imprisonment for a term extendable to one year or with a fine up to Rs 5000 or with both.

The amendment bill also provided a provision for initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the employee who participates in a strike which is illegal or a person who instigates or incites other persons to take part in such strike.