Hearing on the legal issues of the Majithia Contempt case started today in the Supreme Court. It remained incomplete and will continue on the next Tuesday, 17th January. From the side of the employees Shri Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, submitted that Section 20j of the Wage Board Award was being wrongly used by the newspaper owners to deny the benefits of the Award to employees. It was, in fact, incorporated to help those employees, who were being paid more than what the Wage Board had recommended.
Therefore, ‘Section 20j is more in the nature of protecting the employees than in curtailing their benefits. The way the owners are using the Section 20j to deny the wages and allowances as per the Wage Board recommendations flies in the face of Sections 13 and 16 of the Working Journalists Act, he told the court.
Shri Gonsalves further submitted by many illustrations as to how the Wage Board recommendations are being denied by the proprietors. He told the Hon’ble Court that under Section 20j, the signatures from the employees should have been obtained within three weeks of the notification but the owners have forcibly obtained their signatures even after many months of the notification. He also highlighted the issues related to the Contract Employment and the Variable Dearness Allowance.
From the side of the proprietors Senior Advocate, Shri Anil Divan held the forte. He submitted that under the Contempt of Court Act, the Court has got very limited area and scope to travel but in these contempt petitions those issues have been raised which were not the part of the Writ Petition. He submitted a list of the cases decided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which have dealt with the ambit of the Contempt of Court. Shri Divan tried his best to entangle the crux of the matter in the web of his own submissions.
Justice Gogoi asked Advocates of other managements to make submissions only when they have to add something new and more than what Shri Divan has already submitted. Thus all other Senior Advocates of the managements only adopted the arguments of Shri Anil Divan. On the next date of hearing the employees’ advocates will get the opportunity to demonstrate where and how the proprietors have committed the Contempt of Court.