The Supreme Court on Friday suggested to newspaper managements to consider making some interim arrangement for their employees till the court disposed of a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s notification regarding implementation of the recommendations of Justice Majithia Wage Board for journalists and non-journalists.

The Bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ms. Ranjana Desai gave this suggestion to senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for ABP Ltd. publishers of The Telegraph and other newspapers, when senior counsel for employees, M.N. Krishnamani, said that employees were waiting for 13 years for the implementation of the Wage Board report.

Earlier, Mr. Nariman told the court that the matter should be listed for final disposal. Justice Alam told Mr. Nariman the matter could be heard only in January 2013. On behalf of the employees, Mr. Krishnamani, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves and Counsel Parmanand Pande told the court that since there was no stay on the government notification, the managements should be directed to pay some interim relief till the matter was finally decided.

Mr. Nariman said employees were already being paid 30 per cent interim relief. However, Justice Alam told him: “Mr. Nariman, can you show some large heartedness? You have to pay them something. Give a serious thought to our suggestion.” On this, Mr. Nariman said that “different newspapers have different views on it” and sought two weeks’ time to respond. The Bench directed the matter to be listed for final hearing on January 8, 2013 and said all pleadings must be completed by December 14.

The Bench posted the petitions for directions on October 8 and asked Mr. Nariman to respond by then.

Besides ABP Ltd, Bennet Coleman and Co. Ltd., publishers of Times of India and other newspapers and Indian Newspaper Society had challenged the report and its subsequent notification. They contended that if the recommendations were accepted it would drive many newspapers out of business as the Wage Board had created unreasonable classification among newspapers without any rational basis.

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