The following is a response by M J Pandey on behalf of the JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF MAJITHIA WAGE BOARD, to a Times of India editorial calling for “reasonable tax and labour policies”.
With reference to the unsigned editorial ‘Indian Newspaper industry: Red Ink splashed across the bottom line’ (Times of India, Jan 19, 2017), a case is being made out for concessions to the newspaper industry on the grounds that it is in the doldrums and is beleaguered by various burdens, including that of wage board wages, GST, DAVP, etc.
Without mentioning the recent illegal closure of six editions of The Hindustan Times as the obvious peg for this, the editorial seeks a range of concessions – from a part-discontinuance of the wage board for newspaper employees, to subsidies on advertising and tax.
Clearly, what the newspaper industry has lost in judicial review, it is now seeking to stealthily recoup through administrative fiat.
Under the fig leaf of “freedom of speech”, the editorial makes a number of indefensible propositions. However, we will confine ourselves to the empiricial terrain of the Wage Boards and wish to make the following points:
That a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam had on Feb 7, 2014 (ABP Pvt Ltd and Anr vs Union of India and Ors), upheld ‘the constitutional validity of the Act and the Amendment Act, 1974’ (referring to the Working Journalists Act, 1955) and rejected the contention of improper constitution of the Wage Boards, irregularity in the procedure adopted by the Majithia Wage Board and that Majithia Wage Boards had overlooked the relevant aspects and considered extraneous factors while drafting the recommendations.