The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a writ petition filed by ABP Pvt. Ltd and one of its shareholders challenging the award given by the Majithia Wage Board for journalists and non-journalists recommending an increase in wages, pension and retirement age.
A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma issued notice to other respondents also — the Indian Federation of Working Journalists, the National Union of Journalists, the Indian Journalists Union, the All India Newspaper Employees Federation, the National Federation of Newspaper Employees and Press Trust of India.
The petition, besides seeking a declaration that the Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act was null and void, and ultra vires the Constitution, wanted the Centre restrained from taking any decision based on the “faulty and flawed” recommendations of the Board. The petition wanted the Centre to furnish to the petitioner a copy of the final recommendations in view of the Board Chairman's refusal to furnish one to the representative of the Indian Newspaper Society.
The petitioner said no other industrial establishment of national importance was regulated in this form and required to pay wages and other elements on the basis of a wage board. This amounted to hostile discrimination.
Further, the setting up of the present Majithia Wage Board was in any case not in consonance with the Constitution. The so-called independent members were not truly independent.
This resulted in apparent bias against newspaper owners and tilted the scales against them, the petitioner alleged.
The petition pointed out that the Board's recommendations were beyond its jurisdiction as it had dealt with issues of retirement, pension and assured promotion. It said these matters would fall within the domain of the newspaper managements. Further, the Board did not follow the prescribed procedure and this was a material irregularity.