SC asks Centre to reply on PIL against sacking of journalists amid lockdown

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice on a plea against all media organisations which sacked their employees or asked them to take a salary cut following nationwide lockdown.

A bench, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai observed if business does not start, how long will people sustain without a job? The bench also expressed concern over the issue of termination of employees amid the nationwide lockdown, and noted this issue requires consideration.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves submitted before the bench that many journalists have lost their jobs across several media organisations. The court observed that some serious issues have been raised and this requires a hearing, as other unions are also raising similar issues.

The top court’s observation came on a petition jointly led by the National Alliance of Journalists, the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Brihan Mumbai Union of Journalists. The petitioners accuse employers in the media sector of taking arbitrary action, and not paying attention to various advisories issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as appeals from the Prime Minister.

The bench directed that a copy of the petition should be supplied to the Centre, and asked it to file a reply within two weeks.

“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.