Working Journalists And Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions Of Service) And Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1955
This Blog is written by Sidrah Jami from Amity Law School, Noida. Edited by Saumya Tripathi.
Media plays an important role in every individual’s life. It has evolved over the years. The paper firstly provides an introduction to the media and then discuss the significance of the development. Referring to the Prasar Bharti (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act 1990 and different elements of media. Secondly, the paper focuses on the impact of The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Services & Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1955 which has impacted the lives of working journalists and individuals working in the newspaper establishment. It also focuses on the statutory provisions of the act like retrenchment, working hours, leaves, fixation of wages by the Central Government, the constitution of the wage board, etc. Fourthly, the paper discusses various case laws in relation to the act and provides an analysis of the same. The last section provides a conclusion.
Media is considered to be the fourth pillar of democracy. It plays a very crucial role in everyday life. There are a number of people all around the nation who are employed in many types of news channels and newspapers which are published in India. Ethics are the basic norms that differentiate between the behaviors which is acceptable in society. It distinguishes and is concerned with the permissible or obligatory, right or wrong, good or bad. It lays down the basic standards of journalism that include the code of ethics that have to be followed by all the journalists. This set of ethical standards that have to be followed by the journalist are called the code of ethics. In the early days, there were no proper provisions of cases related to retrenchment, working hours, leaves, rate of wages, employees provident fund, etc. The fundamental objective of journalism is to provide people with fair, accurate, unbiased news, comments, and information that is related to the public interest.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS DEVELOPMENT
As there was a lack of rules related to working journalists and employees who were working in the newspaper industry. In the 1980’s it was seen that the media should be put under the control of the public and should be distinct from the government. Public Statutory Corporation should operate the media for ensuring fairness in economic, political social, and public matters. Prasar Bharti (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act 1990 was implemented on 15 September 1997. This act focused on establishing Prasar Bharti for defining the functions, composition, powers of the matters. It was known as the Broadcasting Corporation of India which had the duty of organizing and conducting broadcasting services. These services helped in the education and entertainment of the public. It also helped in keeping an equilibrium of the development of broadcasting on television and radio.
The Act focused on providing recognition electronic media which were known as Doordarshan and All India Radio. Both media units were independent bodies that worked under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Some of the objectives of the Prasar Bharti Corporation which were laid down under the Prasar Bharti Act 1990 were:
– providing proper attention to the sector of agriculture, education, environment, rural development, science and technology, health and welfare of societies
– promotion of national unity
– promotion of social justice and rights of the minorities, tribal communities and working classes
– promotion of research and expanding broadcasting technology and facilities
– providing a wide coverage on youth affairs, sports, and different cultures all around the country.
– awareness of issues related to women and proper steps taken for vulnerable sections in society.
The First Press Commission supervised and saw that the payments which were received by journalists were not satisfactory. The Commission laid down that there should be a fixed minimum wage that should be paid to the journalists. There were various principles related to journalism like truthfulness, objectivity, accuracy, public accountability, fairness, humanity, and dignity.
Truthfulness: Journalist should provide news which should be truthful. This principle has various elements like honesty, sincerity, and good faith of a journalist. The journalists should provide information that should be true. Privacy is considered to be an important right that is applicable to everyone. The journalists should not invade the privacy of other individuals. They should not provide fake news to the people.
Objectivity: It is considered to be one of the most significant principles. The objective of efficient journalism should be disinterestedness, non-partisanship, actuality, and fairness. It is mostly found in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.
Accuracy: It means that the journalists should provide accurate reports. They should use proper words and opinions for providing information.
Public accountability: The journalist should be responsible and are answerable to the public. It means that they have an obligation to explain and report fair facts publicly. The reports should provide fairness and completeness of information to the public. Journalists have an obligation to explain and justify their reporting to the public.
Fairness: The journalists should provide information that should be free from any type of political interference or any type of personal favoritism. They should provide information that is fair in nature. The thoughts and words that are used in the reports should be fair and not include any type of malign intention.
Humanity: The journalist should provide proper information and should not hurt people. It is referred to as the principle of being humane. The journalist has a duty of seeking truth and providing a fair report on issues and events. Journalists should provide the public with honesty.
Dignity: This principle is considered to be very important in journalism. Under this, the journalist should not be aggressive in nature and should not provide cheap levels. Journalists should maintain dignity while providing reports to the public.
The Indian Parliament passed an ordinance called the Working Journalist (Fixation of rates of wages) that was promulgated on 14 June 1958. The ordinance was later replaced by the Parliament. Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Services & Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1955 focusing on the journalists and employees. It emphasized making welfare measures for efficient regulation of the working journalists and other persons employed in newspaper establishments. It focused on laying down procedures related to the service conditions of the employees. This act made the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 applicable to the journalists. The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946 and Employees Provident Fund Act 1952 was applicable to every newspaper that was established with twenty or more employees. This act helped in providing various ethics which had to be followed by the working journalists. There were various provisions that were laid down for the working journalists.
The Act focused on main points like:
– provisions related to cases of retrenchment
– payment of gratuity
– revision and fixation of rates
– leave and earned leave on full wages
– recommendations related to wage fixation machinery like tribunals and wage boards
– hours of work
– employment provident fund
– recovery of money due from the employer
After the implementation of the act, the situation of the working journalists and the employees working in the newspaper sector got better. The act fixed the number of hours for the working
journalists. The act also provided rules related to any kind of casual leave, form or procedure of nomination, cancellation of nomination. It also stated that the newspaper establishments should
prepare and maintain proper records, registers, and muster rolls. An application can be made to the State government by a newspaper employer or any of his family members to recover the amount of any type of amount is due.
Section 4 of the Act deals with retrenchment. It lays down that if any working journalist has been retrenched between 14 July 1954 and 12 March 1955 then that person will get wages for one month at the rate before his retrenchment or compensation that shall be equivalent to fifteen days average pay for every completed year of service.
Section 6 of the Act deals with the normal working day provision. It lays down that every working journalist will work for more than 140 hours exclusive of the time of meals.
Section 7 of the Act deals with the leave. It says every working journalist should be allowed to earn leave on full wages for one-eleventh of the period and leave according to medical certificate then he will get one-half of the wages and more than one-eighteenth of the period of service.
Section 8 of the Act provides that the Central Government has the power to fix wages related to the working journalists and to revise them timely at proper intervals.
Section 9 of the Act provides that the Central government should constitute a wage board which should constitute three persons who will repentant the employers in newspaper establishments, three persons who will represent journalists, and four independent persons who will be the judge of High Court or Supreme Court.
Section 10 of the Act, lays down that the board has the power to make recommendations in relation to the fixed or revised rates of wages of working journalists or employers in the newspaper establishment. All these recommendations should be given in writing to the Central Government.
Section 11 of the Act deals with the powers of the board. It lays down that the board can exercise its powers in accordance with powers of the Industrial Tribunal given under the Industrial Disputes Act 1947.
Section 12 of the Act says that the central government has the power to make recommendations in relation to the wage board. The Central Government can order recommendations or modifications.
Section 13 A of the Act lays down that the government will have the power to fix interim rates of wages in relation to the working journalist by the notification of Official Gazette.
Section 17 of the Act deals with the recovery of money from the employer. It lays down that if any amount id due from the employer then the newspaper employee or any of his legal heirs in case of his death will be allowed to take the amount from the employer.
Section 17 A of the Act, lays down that every employer working in a newspaper establishment should prepare and maintain muster rolls, records, and registers for the same.
Under the case of Bennett Coleman & Co. (P.) Ltd, v. Punya Priya Das Gupta  the court held that an ex-employee will be covered under the definition of a working journalist even if his employment came to an end because of resignation.
Under the case of Ananda Bazar Patrika Ltd. v. Union of India  the court held that the fixing of interim wages can be placed before the wage board and that the wage board will have the duty to make proper recommendations that will later be presented before the Central Government for the final decision. The Central Government has to set up a date of hearing and serve proper notice before the fixation of interim wages.
There was a lack of rules which had to be followed by the journalists. This led to a clear exploitation of journalists. However, after the implantation of the act, it focused on making certain provisions that will be beneficial for the working journalists and people working under the newspaper establishment. The act lays down certain provisions related to working hours, gratuity, wage board, and more provisions.
The act has laid down provisions that have helped the working journalists. There has also been a code that has to be followed by all journalists. These codes helped in providing news which is free from all the error. The act has helped in gaining insight and plays a crucial role in a journalist’s life. The act has helped the working journalists and the people working in the newspaper establishment to get aware of their rights.
 AIR 1970 SC 426
 1989 74 FJR 401