A ruling by Bombay High Court that should interest labor activists and leftists in general. The court recently ruled that in case an employee faces an accident, it will be the liability of the principal employer, and not the contract employer. The case involved the Bombay High Court deciding that Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M) would have to pay monetary compensation on the death of a worker who was working for M GM Motors, which in turn was under Mahindra and Mahindra’s contract.

The driver Sureshkumar Parasnath Singh died in accident while working for M G M Motors on behalf of Mahindra. The case, related to the  The Employees’ Compensation Act, should serve as an important milestone for those fighting against the anti worker policies under the neo liberal regime of the Indian state. Recently, there has been a growing trend of hiring contract workers/casual workers, because this allows the corporations to avoid ensuring all worker safety and security regulations. There is a growing buzz that worker laws need to be diluted because it is these “stringent” laws that allegedly are the reason behind India’s lackluster economic performance.

Of course, we cannot forget that despite this Bombay High Court ruling, other courts or even this same court will not think twice about going against this judgment at a later date. That is after all the nature of the sham democracy that corporatized, neo liberal India is. Why, how can we forget that the same Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the gram sabhas (village councils) in their power to decide about mining projects in the Niyamgiri hills region [concerning the preposterous Vedanta project], struck down the opposition voiced against Posco steel project in Odisha?

Even so, the left must use every tool available within the system as long as it is available to increase pressure on corporations like Maruti Suzuki which is going out of its way to penalize workers who were demanding their legitimate right of unionizing and regularization of the large number of casual workers in the Manesar factory. The present ruling may be seen as a milestone in the fight against the dangerous trend of increasing ratio of contract to permanent workers in India.