(Rpting DI 42, deleting matter in para 2)

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New Delhi, May 1 (UNI) The meeting of the Narayan Kurup wage boards for journalists and non-journalist employees of newspapers and news agencies scheduled to be held on May 5-7 at Dwarka was today postponed till further intimation in view of the Delhi High Court notice to the Centre challenging the composition of the wage board.

Dr Justice K Narayana Kurup, under whose recommendations the three independent members were appointed in the boards, has decided to postpone the meeting at EPFO complex, sector 23, Dwarka till further intimation.

Delhi High Court yesterday had issued notices to the Union of India on a petition contending that the Wage Boards were constituted in violation of Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution and of the Working Journalists and other Newspaper employees (conditions of service and other miscellaneous provisions)Act 1955 and therefore should be stayed.

A division bench comprising Justices Manmohan Sarin and Manmohan directed the Centre to reply by May 13.

The petitioner, 'The Statesman Ltd', has challenged the constitution of the Narayana Kurup Wage Boards for Working journalists and other newspaper employees on the grounds that three members appointed by the Government in the committee were not independent and had manifest bias that would be prejudicial to them.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, senior advocate Soli J Sorabjee and Mr Arjun Harkauli said the constitution of the wage board is liable to be struck down on the grounds that the employers of the newspapers have been prevented from the effective representation and also that the three independent members appointed by the Government were not independent, having a manifest bias that would be prejudicial to the petitioner.

The petition states that the constitution of Wage Boards only for print media is discriminatory and violative of the Constitution and that these Boards were set up overruling the recommendations of the Second National Commission on Labour.

The petition states that the employees have been allowed by the government to nominate one person common to the two boards, thus preventing effective representation to address the complex issues of job classification, capacity to pay, fixation of wages and allowances.

The petition further states that of the three independent members appointed in terms of the Act, one is a working journalist being the chief reporter of a Malayalam daily while the other two have an institutional bias as one of them is a former Labour Secretary and has been appointed as a Member-secretary beyond the statute and draws his salary and perquisites from the Union of India. The other is the personal staff of the Minister of State for Labour and employement.


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