Rajasthan Patrika challenges constitutional validity of working journalists Act

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a writ petition filed by Rajasthan Patrika challenging the notification to implement the recommendations of the Justice Majithia wage board for journalists and non-journalists.

A Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai issued notice after hearing senior counsel K.V. Viswanathan, appearing for the petitioner. The Bench granted two weeks to the Centre for filing its response on the main petition and on the application seeking interim stay of the notification. The petition is expected to be listed in the second week of January 2012.

Senior counsel Gopal Jain made a mention that petitions filed by ABP Ltd., publishers of The Telegraph and other newspapers, and Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd., publishers of The Times of India and other newspapers, and the Indian Newspaper Society challenging the report and the subsequent notification could also be listed along with the writ petition filed by Rajasthan Patrika, and the Bench directed that all the petitions be tagged and listed together.

‘Inherent right'

Rajasthan Patrika had challenged the constitutional validity of the Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and other Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955. It said this Act interfered with the prerogative of the management to manage its enterprise, which was an inherent right of every employer and recognised globally.

Referring to the November 11 government notification, the petition said that if the recommendations of the wage board were accepted they would drive many newspapers out of business as the wage board had created unreasonable classification among newspapers without any rational basis.

Interim stay sought

Contending that the notification would amount to overreaching the orders of the Supreme Court when a batch of petitions was pending adjudication, Rajasthan Patrika sought quashing of the notification and an interim stay of its operation.

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