In the death of Justice (Rtd.) U.N. Bhachawat yesterday morning, the newspaper employees have lost their true well-wisher. It was he who laid the foundation stone of the wage structures, allowances of the newspaper employees and the classification of the newspapers. Before Justice Bhachawat all other wage boards- Divatia, Shinde and Palekar- had run into rough weathers because of the objections and legal impediments created by the proprietors, led by notorious blackmailer Ram Nath Goenka. Recommendations of the first wage board were struck down by the constitution bench in the Indian Express case. Thereafter the Shinde wage committee was formed through an ordinance but, that too, could not do justice to employees. The Palekar wage board was constituted in 1975 but it could not function due to non-cooperation of the employers. Later on, it was converted into one man Tribunal. Therefore, the wage board under the chairmanship of Justice Bhachawat was the first of its kind, which prepared the ground for all other subsequent wage boards.
Justice Bhachawat died at the ripe age of 93. He was active all through his life. I was often used to go to him at his Jang Pura office of New Delhi to consult about the wage board matters and also about some other cases. After his retirement from the Madhya Pradesh High Court he started practicing in the Supreme Court. He had the robust knowledge of the civil laws. There are more than one hundred retired judges of various High Courts, who are regular practitioners in the Supreme Court but only a few of them have been able to retain the verve and enthusiasm of a lawyer and Justice Bhachawat was certainly one of them. He started his career from the District court of Mandsaur but gained his popularity as one of the top lawyers of election law in the entire state. He was very close to politicians like Dwarka Prasad Mishra, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Shyama Charan Shukla, Arjun Singh, Motilal Vora, Sundar Lal Patwa, Sitaram Jhalani and Birendra Kumar Saklecha etc,. A devout Jain, Justice Bhachawat never ate anything after sunset but he was very eclectic in his conduct. He could never think of doing any injustice or harm to anybody. He used to donate profusely to many charitable organisations. Recently he donated a large sum of money to the Government hospital in Mandsaur for installation of a dialysis machine.
The most remarkable work that had done for the newspaper employees was the introduction of the concept of classification of the newspapers based on ‘gross revenue’ from all sources including the rents received by them. He abolished the discrimination of newspaper of newspaper employees at two centres based on ‘functional integrality’, although it was not fully upheld by the Supreme Court in the Indian Express case of 1994; yet it certainly paved the way for ‘stepping up’ of the new publication centres of chain newspapers.
His wife, Smt. Vimla Devi, predeceased him few years ago, and thereafter he became very lonely. His son retired as the medical superintendent of a prestigious hospital of New Delhi. His grandson Alok Bhachawat has been able to build up a very good legal practice in the Supreme Court and other High Courts.
His death is personal loss to me and I pay my respectful homage to Justice Bhachawat and on behalf of the ‘Indian Federation of Working Journalists’ (IFWJ). I believe that a Kaivalya gyani like him will certainly attain Moksha (salvation).