Dismiss writ petition questioning Majithia report

The Centre has asserted in the Supreme Court that the Justice Majithia Wage Board recommendations on salary hike and other issues for journalists and non-journalists were made on the basis of tripartite talks and are being examined by the government for implementation.

In its response to the writ petition filed by ABP Pvt. Ltd (which runs the Bengali newspaper Anadabazar Patrika), challenging the final report, the Centre said: “When the recommendations are under the consideration of the government, it is premature to say that it is unjust, unreasonable and violative of the rights of the petitioner.”

The case comes up for further hearing on September 12.

The Centre said the wage structure had been determined on the basis of the capacity of the employer to pay. The relevant provisions of the Act would not prevent the board from making recommendations for fixing or revision of rates of wages on an all-India basis.

On ‘variable pay', the counter said: “Variable pay is part of the pay of the newspaper employees which is reasonable. Further, wage boards are mandated to fix or revise the rates of wages of newspaper employees irrespective of whether they are contract labourers or regular workers.”

Though constituted specifically to fix or revise wages, the board, in its wisdom made recommendations on retirement age and other issues, the Centre said. “After the wage board submitted its report, there is no point in questioning the procedure of classification. Since wage boards are tripartite bodies, the recommendations made have to be accepted by all stakeholders as they are fair and reasonable.” However, the Centre said, any recommendation not in accordance with the purpose for which the board was constituted would be examined before issuing any order.

Tracing the history of the constitution of wage boards from time to time, the Centre said they could not be considered unworkable, arbitrary and unreasonable. It rejected the charge that the wage board recommendations would infringe the petitioner's right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution. Maintaining that the apprehensions of the petitioner were premature, the Centre sought dismissal of the writ petition.

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