THE Supreme Court today issued notice to the Central Government on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) jointly filed by the National Alliance of Journalists, the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists against the job losses and wage cuts in the media.
A three-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justices N V Ramana, S K Kaul and B R Gavai during the hearing remarked, “the petition raised some serious issues. It requires a hearing. Other unions are also saying this. If the business does not start, how long will people sustain”?
The court fixed the next hearing after two weeks.
The PIL pointed out that layoffs and salary cuts have been effected during the lockdown to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The PIL asked the Union government, the Indian Newspaper Society and the News Broadcasters Association to ensure that media employers do not misuse the lockdown for such arbitrary action against employees. It sought the suspension of all orders of termination, salary cuts or resignations sought from employees during the period of the lockdown.
Petitioners averred that several newspapers, magazines, online media outlets, and other employers in the media sector have reportedly taken steps after the announcement of the nation-wide lockdown in March 2020 to retrench workers and employees, impose wage cuts, etc. in spite of advisories issued by the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India and even appeals by the Prime Minister of India to not terminate the services or reduce the wages of their employees.
According to the petition, the nature of injury caused to the public is that this is an affront to the rights of journalists and also impedes their ability to perform their duties and provide independent journalism as a pillar of democracy.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves and the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the petitioners and Government of India respectively.