The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice in a plea against all media organizations who laid off employees or forced them to take remuneration kickbacks in wake of the nationwide lockdown.
A bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & B.R. Gavai expressed concern over the said issue of termination of employees amid the Coronavirus induced lockdown and stated that this issue required consideration.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves drew attention of the bench to the incessant terminations of journalists across several media organisations.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that Notice be issued and a copy be supplied to the Centre.
"Some serious issues have been raised. It requires a hearing. Other unions also saying this. The question is, if business does not start, how long will people sustain. This issue needs hearing" the bench noted.
In light of this, the bench directed that a copy of the petition be supplied to the Centre and reply be filed within two weeks, after which it shall be taken up again by the bench.
Accusing employers in newspapers and the media sector of meting out inhuman and illegal treatment towards their employees, this petition seeks immediate suspension of all termination notices, wage reductions, resignations received pursuant to oral or written requests from the employers, and directions to go on unpaid leave which took place after the announcement of the lockdown.
The petition, jointly filed by the National Alliance of Journalists, the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Brihan Mumbai Union of Journalists, accuses employers in the media sector of taking arbitrary action despite advisories being issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as two appeals from the Prime Minister.
"Despite the fact that the Government of India has specifically permitted print and electronic media establishments to continue functioning, the appeals made by the Prime Minister of India and advisories issued by the Government of India to not terminate services or reduce wages of employees, several employers/ establishments in the newspaper/ media sector have taken unilateral knee-jerk decisions to terminate services, reduce wages and also send employees on forced indefinite unpaid leave" the Petition reads.