Bombay High Court

PIL in the Bombay High Court against media houses for forcing resignation and pay cuts

Bhavya Pandey

Coronavirus has now spread all over the world. Its claws are growing in every inch of the world. People are scared and distressed all over the world. Number of infected and deaths are increasing. Everyone around the world is suffering. People are at their home and are avoiding coming out. In such a time there are some people who are still working hard to do their jobs even in this world-wide pandemic. Those are doctors, police force, army, cleaning workers, media, etc.

When people were completely locked down during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, then media is the one who came out of their houses and gave us all the information regarding current affairs, and many things which was going around. When people were at home locked in their respective houses, they reported all citizens of India and gave all information related to coronavirus like number of people affected or death caused by it, where there is more of cases and where there are less, showing us the live situation of people in our country, do’s and don’ts during this pandemic, informed us all the precaution which all of us should take to avoid getting affected by the virus.

Newspaper, magazines etc. also did not stop and provided us with all the news and articles everyday even in such situations. All this so that we can read, watch the news. Everyday all the media did their best to provide country with information and news. Media did full-time job all the time during this pandemic. Even many of them risked their lives and many of them even got infected.

MEDIA HOUSES FORCING RESIGNATION

A PIL has been filled against Media Houses in Bombay High Court by Maharashtra Union of Working Journalist and the Nagpur Union of Working Journalist. They raised the grievance that employees are being forced to terminate their jobs. They are getting pay cuts even they did full time job during lockdown and are coerced to accept changes in their service conditions to become contractual employees. Such contractual employment leads the salary process based on Performance Linked Pay. This is a huge loss of the hard work done by journalist and related workers/employees. These people should get paid based on the work they have done and should not get pressurised for doing something which leads them to their loss. Journalist were exempted from lockdown during coronavirus lockdown.

The case has been filled regarding inhuman and illegal treatment by employers to their employees. This act is not only violating article 21, 14, 16 and 19 of the Indian Constitution but also infringing with Labour Relation Act 1947 and Working Journalist Act 1955. In this pandemic situation, our economy is failing down rapidly and salary, wages are the only means to survive for many people in our country. Many employees under journalist who are not journalist but are the helpers of the journalist has all the right to get their salary and wages.

The respondent parties are: Lokmat Media Private Limited,  Lokmat Media Private Limited, The Bennett Coleman and Company Limited i.e. the Times Group, the Dainik Bhaskar Group, the Indian Express Loksatta Group, the ABP management, the Hindustan Times Group, Sakal Group, Tarun Bharat Group, Navbharat Group, Deshnnati Group, Punya Nagari and Lokshahi Varta.

Bench of Justices Sunil B Shukre and Anil S Kilor of the Supreme Court are the judges who are addressing this petition. They also said that media house was exempted from lockdown and worked in frontline during lockdown. Court has issued a notice to Central Government, State Government and 10 different Media Houses.

Reduction in their salary will lead to economic depression in their respective lives, they can lose their jobs, or they will not have enough income to survive. The employees are being forced to resign. There is already a very distressed situation in the world and in out country and such acts will lead to depression among people. Ministry of Labour and Employment, The Government of India and even Prime Minister Shree Narendra Modi also appealed everyone to not to terminate or reduce salary but still this is done by major of the companies. It said, “an affront to the rights of journalists and also impede their ability to perform their duties and provide independent journalism as a pillar of democracy”.

Our Indian Media House is the pillar of our democracy and they should not be treated this way and they deserve full-service wages and salary as they are also the frontline heroes during the coronavirus.

In this period of distress and spreading of virus all over the world. The one who are doing their jobs irrespective of the danger of coronavirus they are facing and reporting and giving us all the information that the citizen of India needs. Then, they should get the full payment of the work they are doing and they should not get coerced into making any decision which is not suitable for their livelihood. That is wrong by the media organisations.