Right to strike

February 17, 2024


The right to strike is a fundamental aspect of labour rights globally, serving as a means for workers to assert their demands and negotiate better working conditions. However, in India, the legal landscape surrounding the right to strike is complex and often contentious.

Constitutional Framework

While the Constitution of India guarantees various fundamental rights, including the right to form associations or unions, the right to strike is not explicitly recognized as a fundamental right.

Legislative Framework

The legal framework governing the right to strike in India primarily derives from various labour laws and judicial interpretations. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, is a key piece of legislation that regulates industrial disputes, including strikes and lockouts.

Section 22 of the Act recognizes the right of workers to go on strike, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include giving prior notice to the employer and adhering to the procedures prescribed under the law.

Role of Trade Unions

Additionally, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, provides for the registration and regulation of trade unions in India. Trade unions play a crucial role in representing the interests of workers and negotiating with employers on issues such as wages, working conditions, and benefits.

Judicial Interpretations

The legality of strikes in India is also influenced by judicial decisions. Over the years, the Supreme Court and various High Courts have adjudicated numerous cases involving strikes and have laid down principles governing their legality.

Balancing Rights and Responsibilities

In the landmark case of All India Bank Employees’ Association v. National Industrial Tribunal, the Supreme Court held that the right to strike is not a fundamental right but is recognized under industrial law. In Mumbai Kamgar Sabha v. Abdulbhai Faizullabhai and Others (1976 AIR 1455), the Supreme Court emphasized that while workers have the right to strike, this right must be exercised responsibly, taking into account the impact on essential services and public interest.

Regulation of Essential Services

Despite the legal framework governing strikes, there have been instances of strikes being declared illegal or unjustified by the courts. Strikes that are deemed to be in contravention of the law or causing undue hardship to the public may be declared illegal and subject to legal action.

Calls for Reform

In recent years, there have been debates and discussions on the need to reform labour laws in India to better protect the rights of workers while promoting industrial peace and productivity.


In conclusion, while the right to strike is not explicitly recognized as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution, it is an essential aspect of labour rights and industrial relations in India. The legal framework governing strikes is based on various labour laws and judicial interpretations aimed at balancing the interests of workers, employers, and the public. As India continues to evolve economically and socially, it is imperative to ensure that labour laws are responsive to the changing needs and dynamics of the workforce while upholding principles of justice, fairness, and equity.

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