New Delhi: The Supreme Court  yet again refused to restrain the Union Cabinet from taking any decision on the Majithia Wage Board's recommendations for journalists and non-journalists, turning down pleas by various media to do so.

"Propriety demands that when the matter is before the Union Cabinet, we should not pass any order. However, any decision taken by the Union Cabinet will be subject to the final orders passed by this court," a bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Misra said.

The bench made the observation following repeated pleas of various newspaper managements to restrain the Union Cabinet from taking any decision on the wage board recommendations on the ground that the matter is pending before the Apex Court.

The bench took serious note of newspaper managements writing a controversial letter to the Union Labour Secretary asking him not to take any decision on the recommendations till the matter was decided by the Apex Court.

Additional Solicitor General Parag Tripathi had drawn the attention of the bench about the letter.

"It is very, very unfair on your part to write such a letter," said the bench, prompting senior counsel Fali Nariman and K K Venugopal for newspaper managements to immediately withdraw the letter.

While recording in its order, the managements' act of withdrawing its letter to the Labour Secretary, the bench asked the Union government to file its counter affidavit on the batch of petitions by the managements challenging the Wage Board recommendations.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions by various newspaper managements and media houses including Anand Bazar Patrika Pvt Ltd (ABP), Bennett Coleman Co.Ltd and news agency United News of India (UNI), which had challenged the Majithia Wage Board's recommendations. The court said any decision by the Cabinet will be subject to its scrutiny on the validity and other aspects.

"We have not held the (the Working Journalist and Other Newspapers Employees) Act as ultra vires. So where is the question of restraining the government. If you have any objections on the provisions, you can challenge it. May be, some of the recommendations could also be in your favour, so let us wait," the bench said when it was contended that the Wage Board itself was constituted in an illegal manner.

The counsel submitted that though the Act envisaged constituting the Board with independent members, the government had handpicked its own people thus not providing any level-playing field to the managements.

They contended that the composition of Board members was loaded in favour of the employees.

"Government has manipulated the whole process to make the newspaper managements subservient to it," Venugopal told the bench, adding “it is not Wage Board in the eyes of the law."

The bench said these issues can be taken up by the petitioners after the Cabinet takes a decision. It posted the matter for further hearing in the third week of December.

The court earlier on September 21 too had refused to stop the Cabinet from taking any decision on the wage board's recommendations.

(Agencies)