The court said the rights of the headload workers should be protected in a legal manner.

load workers walking into the street with lorries on one side
news Court Saturday, September 04, 2021 - 10:05

The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the state government to eradicate the practice of 'nokkukooli' which, it said, was damaging the image of Kerala. Nokkukooli, which literally means 'gawking wages,' is a practice in Kerala where headloaders charge money for gawking or staring at people loading or unloading cargo.

Justice Devan Ramachandran, while hearing a plea filed by a businessman from Kollam over the issue, said the rights of the headload workers should be protected in a legal manner. The court also observed that the petitions seeking protection against nokkukooli are on the rise in the state.

"The practice of nokkukooli is damaging the image of Kerala. It should be eradicated. It gives out wrong perceptions about the state. Meanwhile, the rights of the headload workers should also be protected," the court said.

The Kerala government had on May 1, 2018, banned the obsolete nokkukooli practice used by headload workers to extract exorbitant wages without doing any work. The practice of nokkukooli has resulted frequent altercations between workers and businessmen.

Hearing another plea against the demand of gawking wages, the court said that such complaints against nokkukooli have been coming to the court on a regular basis. The bench said that this was surprising as the court, back in 2018, had banned the practice of demanding gawking wages by labour unions.

Hearing the complaint, the court said this meant that the state government had not properly implemented the previous order banning the practice. 

Following this, the court directed the government pleader to obtain information from the State Police Chief on why the previous ban had not been implemented and also the steps and interventions by police officials at various levels of power to implement the order. 

The court also impleaded the Kerala Director General of Police and sent a notice to the DGP.

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