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Haryana to get separate High Court soon; committee to set up separate bench constituted

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Haryana to get separate High Court soon; committee to set up separate bench constituted

By Raghav Ohri
The decision follows a letter written by Union law minister D V Sadananda Gowda on May 25 to the acting Chief Justice to 'examine the case'.
NEW DELHI: In a major development, what is being seen as the first big step towards having a separate High Court for Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has constituted a committee of four senior High Court Judges to consider setting up of a separate Bench of the High Court for the convenience of litigants.

In an administrative order, the acting Chief Justice of the High Court has constituted the Committee 'for establishment of a separate Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court at Southern/Western Haryana'.

The decision follows a letter written by Union law minister D V Sadananda Gowda on May 25 to the acting Chief Justice to 'examine the case'.

Gowda's letter, a copy of which ET has, is in response to a letter written by the Chief Minister Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar. In his April 17 letter, Khattar had written to Gowda raising the demand of creating a "separate" High Court for Haryana.

Khattar had also raised the demand in April at the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers of all the States held in Delhi.

Khattar wrote, on April 17, that Haryana had been requesting the Central government for a separate High Court for Haryana 'for the past one decade and more' to set up a separate High Court for the State.

Referring to various resolutions passed by Haryana government in 2002 and 2005, Khattar wrote that it was decided that the Parliament and Indian government would be requested to "move an appropriate Bill for carrying out suitable amendment in the Punjab Reorganisation Act,1966 and provide for a separate High Court for Haryana to be located at Chandigarh".

Khattar had added that creation of a separate Bench is "an easier option" since it does not require amendment of the said Act.


Government increases daily minimum wage to Rs 160 per day

Bandaru Dattatreya on Tuesday said he has written to all chief ministers and lieutenant governors to take necessary steps to fix minimum rates. 
NEW DELHI: The government has increased minimum wage across the country to Rs 160 a day from Rs 137 with effect from this month. It has raised the threshold after two years on the basis of average increase in the consumer price index for industrial workers during this period.

Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Tuesday said he has written to all chief ministers and lieutenant governors to take necessary steps to fix minimum rates of wages in respect of all scheduled employments in states and union territories not below the revised level.

"While reviewing the movement of CPI-IW (consumer price index for industrial workers) during April 2014 to March 2015 over the period April 2012 to March 2013, it was observed that the average CPIIW has risen from 215.17 to 250.83. Accordingly, the NFLMW (national floor level minimum wage) has been revised upwards from existing Rs 137 to Rs 160 per day with effect from July 1, 2015," Dattatreya said. In order to have a uniform wage structure and to reduce the disparity in minimum wages across the country, NFLMW is fixed on the basis of the CPI-IW. The NFLMW was last revised from Rs 115 to Rs 137 per day in July 2013.

NFLMW is a non-statutory measure and after every revision states are persuaded to fix minimum wages such that in none of the scheduled employments the minimum wage is less than NFLMW. The list of scheduled employment under the Minimum Wage Act, 1948, differs from state to state and covers a wide spectrum of employment creating sectors including industry, construction, agriculture and services sector.

In a separate letter, Dattatreya urged all chief ministers and LGs to ensure compliance regarding social security coverage of outsourced staff working in the government departments, public sector undertakings, state cooperatives and other bodies. "The National Human Rights Commission incidentally is also monitoring the implementation as the social security is considered as a human right of an individual," the minister said in his letter written on Tuesday.

He further said, "It has been observed that various departments, PSUs, state cooperatives and other state-run bodies are increasingly employing a large number of staff on outsourcing basis."


Mandatory recognition for trade unions likely

Now, a trade union will become the sole bargaining agent in a factory with multiple unions

Somesh Jha  

In a first, factories across the country might soon have to compulsorily recognise a trade union as a representative of its workers and engage in dialogue with it in case of a dispute.

Sources said the Union labour ministry had proposed a trade union in a factory be empowered as the 'principal bargaining agent' for settling a dispute or engaging in a discussion with employers. The union would be treated as a representative of the workers in the respective organisation based on membership, after a verification drive, ministry sources said.

"A trade union that gets a majority support of the workers in a factory will be deemed the sole bargaining agent. In case there is no majority, those with a prescribed percentage of support will be recognised. This is to ensure trade unionswith limited support in an establishment don't become a trouble for employers," a senior labour ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

This is important in case a factory has multiple trade unions. In many factories in the country, workers are associated with various trade unions and there have been many cases in which unions have protested against non-recognition by the management.

Currently, there is no provision for recognition of trade unions in India's central labour laws. A provision in this regard would be inserted in the proposed industrial relations Bill, after discussions with industry and workers' representatives on July 14, sources said. However, as the law is under the Concurrent List of the Constitution, states will be free to either frame their own laws or follow the one mandated by Parliament.

To implement mandatory recognition of a trade union, Parliament had passed the Indian Trade Union (Amendment) Act, 1947, but it wasn't notified. Though there is a fundamental right to form unions and a statutory right to get it registered, there is no corresponding legal obligation on employers to recognise a particular trade union, even if it meets the terms of registration. Typically, managements refuse to recognise small or regional trade unions.

"Recognition is the process through which an employer accepts a particular trade union as having a representative character and, therefore, will be willing to engage in discussions with the union with respect to the interests of workers. This process is important to ensure smooth collective bargaining and stability in industrial relations," Nishith Desai Associates had said in a research paper, 'India: Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining', published in March this year.


  • Now, a trade union will become the sole bargaining agent in a factory with multiple unions

  • A trade union with support of most workers or with a prescribed percentage of support will be the bargaining agent

  • Through recognition, an employer will have to compulsorily accept a particular trade union as the representative of the workers

  • No central law lays down the procedure for recognition of trade unions

  • Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar and Odisha have rules to recognise trade unions

  • Refusal of employers to recognise a trade union has been a trigger for many industrial disputes such as those in Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant in 2011 and MRF’s Tiruvallur plant in 2009

Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala and Odisha have enacted rules for recognition of trade unions. In Maharashtra, a trade union functioning for at least six months is accorded recognition if its membership exceeds 30 per cent of the overall employee count.

"Maharashtra was the first state to do so. States such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh also follow its model. In Kerala and West Bengal, a secret ballot is held to recognise a trade union as the sole bargaining agent," said K R Shyam Sundar, professor (human resource management), XLRI.

"Multiple trade unions fighting for their respective rights are a threat to industrial relations. Trade unions have been demanding recognition for a long time. The current law only provides for registration of unions, not recognition, and this lacuna has been in existence for 90 years," Sundar said. "Legislation in this regard will give strength to freedom of association and collective bargaining; unions' rights will be consolidated and this will lead to agreeable solutions and, consequently, fewer disputes."

Sundar said the absence of such a provision had led to employers creating their own unions, claiming these had the highest membership and engaging with these in case of disputes.

The refusal of employers to recognise trade unions has been a trigger for many industrial disputes in India. In 2009, there was a long stand-off between the workers and management of MRF's Tiruvallur plant in Tamil Nadu over recognition of a trade union. In 2011, Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant had witnessed a 13-day stand-off, with the workers demanding recognition of a new trade union. The workers complained the trade union recognised by the company wasn't representative of them.

A proposal related to recognition of a trade union was recommended by a sub-committee formed by the labour ministry to examine the proposed industrial relations Bill. The sub-committee was tasked with drafting a set of recommendations, after trade unions had protested against certain provisions of the proposed Bill. A tripartite meeting on the proposed Bill is scheduled for July 14, and these recommendations would be taken up for discussion, sources said.


Are MPs trustees of people?

Kuldip Nayar

Over the years I have found the Supreme Court in Pakistan, a country under constant influence of the military, is far more progressive than ours although India has been functioning in a free, democratic environment. Not long ago lawyers in Pakistan have fought and won the battle for supremacy of the Chief Justice, who was sequestered and suppressed by army chiefs like Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

Once again the Pakistan Supreme Court has made us see our face in the mirror. In an epoch-making judgment the apex court has held that the “massive expenses” incurred on the palatial President's house, Prime Minister's house or the various governors' houses as well as the extravagant lifestyles of their occupants and the perks enjoyed by government functionaries at public expense were “a matter of government policy” involving “political questions.”
How radical is the judgment as compared to our functioning? The Pakistan Supreme Court said: “In a country burdened by foreign debt, where a substantial percentage of the populace lived under the poverty line with a lack of access to basic healthcare and education, such extravagant expenditure was not only against the traditions of simplicity of the Holy Prophet, but also violates the fundamental rights of the citizens.”
This echoes the advice of Mahatma Gandhi to those elected to different offices in independent India. He said that they should behave like trustees, not masters. He wanted them to draw salaries so that their emoluments are not very divergent from the average income of a person. MPs, MLAs and those elected to top positions in municipalities seldom recognise that. There is no escaping the fact, as the Pakistan Supreme Court's judgment says, that public property is “a public trust in the hands of public functionaries.”
I wish the court had commented on the perennial demand of the elected members for increasing emoluments and perks. But it refrained from doing so on the ground that they involved political questioning. Technically, the court was correct. But the judges' obiter dicta would have helped because the judiciary, still respected, would have initiated a debate on lavish spending by political leaders and their assistants.
Their style of living is not matched by politicians' even in the advanced, rich countries in the West. Who would point out to them that they are already in a higher income bracket? The media once used to do so. But today the owners, the individuals and those in the corporate sector supervise and even dictate the headlines given to a story, apart from what the paper would print. Their personal prejudice or preference has played havoc with the media. This is, indeed, a sorry state of affairs. But no other better method has been found, not even in the West, where the press is more developed than in our part of the world.
The Press Council of India, which was constituted to set higher standards in journalism, has got lost in its assertion to be the No. 1 in telling journalists and newspapers what to do or what not to do. I recall as a member of the council how during the days of press censorship the then chairman, a retired Supreme Court judge, curried favour with the government by writing to the then Information Minister, V.C. Shukla, that he, as the Press Council chairman, has been able to manage the Council members not to pass any resolution to criticise censorship.
The Janata government brought out a white paper to highlight this attitude even at the highest level during the Emergency. But when Mrs Indira Gandhi repeated the same thing after coming back to power in 1980, there was none in the media or at the Council to point a finger at her. Even today, when the Press Council has been reconstituted to give representation to editors and working journalists, it has hardly made any difference.

Probably, the Press Council of India has to be replaced with some other representative body as it has happened in the United Kingdom. There, too, it was found that the Press Council had run out of steam. In the eighties, the Press Council in the UK was replaced with the Press Complaints Council (PCC). The experience of media there has not been too happy, but none in the government or in the media has thought of anything innovative. The matter rests there. In India, I concede, there is no possibility of the re-imposition of censorship. Yet, the role of Press Council needs to be redefined to be more purposeful. Otherwise, it will be just an office on paper.

In the same way, I agree with former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's suggestion that an independent pay commission should be constituted to look into the emoluments of parliament members. There is no doubt that they need to be paid more to meet the rising cost of living. But there should be a proper study undertaken to assess how much increase would be in order. There is merit in what Mr Chatterjee has said. MPs themselves cannot decide on the hike.
Similarly, there has to be a parity on salaries and perks drawn by the elected members in different states. At present a legislator in Kerala who is not a minister is said to be drawing a salary of Rs.21,300 a month while his counterpart in Delhi gets Rs.50,000 and in Punjab Rs.54,500. The break-up of the Kerala MLA's reported pay packet is Rs.300 as basic pay, Rs.3,500 as constituency allowance, Rs.4,000 for telephone charges, Rs.6,000 by way of fuel and railway coupons and a permanent travel allowance of Rs.7,500.
Those elected should get one consolidated sum, which should include all expenditures, including on accommodation, transport, electricity, water, telephone, etc. This will enable the people to know how much an elected member costs the exchequer. The picture gets blurred and adds to confusion when emoluments are given under different heads. It would be better to have one yardstick for states and the Centre. Only then will the nation know how far Gandhiji's advice on trusteeship has been followed.

The writer is a noted journalist, columnist and commentator.


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