Bombay HC allows media house appeal against Labour Court orders over pay arrears

The HC was hearing a batch of appeals filed by the media house challenging the January and June 2019 orders of the LC.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, December 30, 2022, 11:57 PM IST
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Bombay HC allows media house appeal against Labour Court orders over pay arrears | File Photo

In a relief for a media house, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has allowed its appeal against several orders of the Labour Court (LC) directing it to pay difference of arrears of salary of employees as per the recommendations of the 2011 Majithia Wage Board Notifications.

The HC was hearing a batch of appeals filed by the media house challenging the January and June 2019 orders of the LC. It also challenged the Sept 14, 2022 order of the Additional Tahsildar, Aurangabad, seeking enforcement of the awards.

Justice Sandeep Marne said, “It shall be open to respondent employees to exercise such remedies for enforcement of their rights to claim wages as per the recommendations.”

The Working Journalists and Other Newspapers Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (Act) was enacted to regulate the conditions of employment of working journalists and other newspaper employees in pursuance of recommendations of the Press Commission. The Central government had constituted the board on May 24, 2007, for fixation and revision of wages. It submitted its recommendations on Nov 11, 2011.

One of its clauses gave the option to the employees to retain existing emoluments within three weeks of publication of the notification. The company claimed that many employees executed such options in the form of declarations.

In Jan 2017, several employees filed petitions before the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Aurangabad, claiming benefits under the board recommendations. The Assistant Labour Commissioner took cognisance of the application dated Jan 18, 2017 and made references to the LC for adjudication.

The LC, on Jan 4, 2019, passed an order directing the media house to pay the difference of such arrears within three months. It rejected the media house’s review petition too on June 10, 2019.

The Media house filed appeals before the HC contending that the employees had given up their rights to claim revised salaries as per the board, hence “employees are now stopped from taking a volte face and demand such wages”. It argued that the reference made by the Assistant Labour Commissioner was not maintainable as there is no such provision in the Act.

The HC said that the references made by the Assistant Commissioner of Labour “are in contravention of the provisions” of the Act. However, the “remedy of filing a complaint under the provisions of the Act would possibly be open for respondent-employees in addition to the State Government itself making a reference” under the Act.

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