In a morale booster for working journalists and newspaper employees, the Supreme Court Friday upheld the validity of the Majithia wage boards, observing their recommendations for wage hike are based on genuine considerations.
Justice G.R. Majithia was appointed chairman of the two wage boards for journalists and non-journalists in 2009, and his recommendations wage hikes for both categoriers of newspapwer employees were notified by the government Nov 11, 2011.
A bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh said: "Accordingly, we hold that the recommendations of the wage Boards are valid in law, based on genuine and acceptable considerations, and there is no valid ground for interference under Article 32 of the Constitution of India."
Examining the challenge to the constitutional validity of the Working Journalist Act, Chief Justice Sathasivam, pronouncing the judgment, said the court was of the opinion that the challenge to the act "is wholly unfounded, baseless and completely untenable".
Addressing the contention by the newspaper organisations that the wage boards have not taken into account regional variations, the court said: "It is clear from the report that the wage Boards have categorized the HRA and transport allowance into X, Y and Z category regions, which reflects that the cost on accommodation and transport in different regions in the country was considered."
Rejecting the objections to the procedure followed by the wage boards, the court said: " Numerous such incidental contentions vis-a-vis procedure adopted by the wage Boards were alleged which, in our considered view, are not of such grave nature that it calls for withdrawing the recommendations of wage Boards."
It also described as "not correct" the newspapers' contention that the boards copied the Sixth Pay Commission blindly.
"The concept of 'variable pay' contained in the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission has been incorporated into the wage Board recommendations only to ensure that the wages of the newspaper employees are at par with those employees working in other government sectors."
The bench dismissed the pleas filed by various newspaper managements challenging the validity of the Board's constitution and its recommendations.
The court in January this year had reserved its verdict on the pleas of the newspapers.
While celebrating the success it would be our endeavour to see that all the Newspaper Employers to implement the recommendations of the Wage Board totally and completely.
I once again congratulate the members of JAK and BNEU for the success, delayed but not denied !