Newspaper managements on Wednesday urged early hearing in the Supreme Court of the petitions challenging the Justice Majithia Wage Board report and the subsequent government notification. For, the batch of cases scheduled for hearing on Wednesday was deferred till July 31, 2012.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Indian Newspaper Society, made a mention before a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari, T.S. Thakur and Dipak Misra for early listing. He said that on October 11, an order was passed for listing the cases for final hearing on December 7 but now the matter was put up for July 31, 2012.
Justice Bhandari told counsel: “Subsequent to that order [October 11 order] Rajasthan Patrika also challenged the report. When that petition came before me, I passed an order recusing myself from that case and directed that all connected matters be listed before some other Bench. That is the reason why the petitions are not listed today [Wednesday]. You may make a mention for early hearing before the Registrar concerned, bringing to his notice the order passed on October 11.”
Meanwhile, ABP Ltd., publishers of Telegraph and other newspapers, and Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd., publishers of The Times of India and other newspapers, filed fresh applications challenging the November 11 notification issued by the government for implementation of the Wage Board recommendations.
The petitioners maintained that the Centre had issued the notification without applying its mind. The recommendations had not considered the wages in similar industries which had been specifically placed before the Wage Board. They argued that the Centre had failed to consider the paying capacity of the newspapers, and various recommendations like variable pay had been made without issuing notice to the affected parties.
Further, the Wage Board had modified Schedule IA and IB Grouping of working journalists in newspaper establishments and functional definitions and they would have the effect of deleting certain designations/categories from a particular group. Contending that the notification was illegal, the petitioners called for abolition of wage boards for the newspaper industry as with the efflux of time, they had lost their significance. In no other industry wages were being regulated by the government under the statutory wage board.
They sought amendment to the prayers, quashing of the notification and an interim stay of its operation.