SHC suspends ITNE decision: contempt notice to chairman in Jang and Nawa-i-Waqt cases -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

SHC suspends ITNE decision: contempt notice to chairman in Jang and Nawa-i-Waqt cases

KARACHI ,January 28 2005: “The Sindh High Court (SHC) has suspended the order of Chairman, ITNE relating to issuance of non-bailable warrants against Nawa-i-Waqt and imposition of fine against Jang Group and ordered that no coercive measures shall be taken by the Chairman, ITNE, to enforce/implement the above order, according to a press release of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS).

The SHC bench of Chief Justice Salved Saeed Ashhad and Justice Maqbool Baqar also ordered the issuance of notice to Javed Nawaz Gandapur, Chairman, ITNE “for wilful violation of the orders of this court which prima facie contempt of this court”.

The press release said: “Constitutional petitions filed by newspaper establishments, relating to the 7th Wage Board Decision, came up for hearing before Bench No 1 of the Sindh High Court, at Karachi.

Two of the three constitutional petitions, raise challenge to the Newspaper Employees Act, 1973 and the 7th Wage Board Decision, wherein it is prayed that both be declared ultra vires of the Constitution and fundamental rights of the newspaper establishments. The challenge is comprehensive on several constitutional and legal grounds.

“The third petition (otherwise first in point of time of filing) was filed by Herald Publications Ltd, and other establishments including, Jang Group of Publications and Nawa-i-Waqt Group of Publications, have joined as co-petitioners.

Through this petition the bias of the chairman of a sole member implementation tribunal in the process of implementation of the 7th Wage Board Decision, has been challenged as being mala fide apart from various other constitutional and legal grounds.

The tribunal, chaired by former Justice Javed Nawaz Gandapur has embarked upon a coercive campaign to force implementation of the decision, notwithstanding the clear unconstitutionality.

The Sindh High Court had earlier injuncted the Chairman, ITNE, from implementing the decision, which the Chairman himself interpreted as being applicable only with regard to Herald Publications and he continued with the coercive measures with renewed rancour demonstrated in the orders passed by him.

The Chairman summarily indicted Jang Publications for his contempt and fined them in 93 cases without any notice or trial. Non-bailable warrants were again issued against Nawa-i-Waqt publications.

“The APNS, therefore, moved a contempt of court application personally against the Chairman, ITNE, and have sought his trial and appropriate action for gross and serious, wilful contempt of honourable High Court.

The contempt application was taken up on Thursday and after hearing counsel for the petitioners, the honourable court has been pleased to issue contempt notice to former Justice Javed Nawaz Gandapur, Chairman, ITNE.

On the next date, he will be required to appear and show cause. For the interim, the honourable High Court has been pleased to suspend the order imposing fine on Jang Publications in 93 cases and also the non-bailable warrant issued against Nawa-i-Waqt.

The ITNE chairman is also injuncted from taking any coercive measure for the implementation of the questioned 7th Wage Board Decision

“The central grievance of the newspaper establishments is that there in the presence of special service laws, relating to private industrial and commercial employments, yet another special law for newspaper employees and including therein non-journalists, is wholly uncalled for and unconstitutional and violates many fundamental rights of the newspaper establishments.

The law is, therefore, bad and has to be struck dawn. Under this law a Wage Board is set which fixes unrealistic wages and although it is a board, it is a one-man show who pronounces a decision all by himself.

The financial impact is so colossal that if implemented, the decision will lead to closure of most of the newspapers, as many newspapers did close down when faced with previous similar decisions given by the previous Wage Boards.

“The Newspaper establishments are represented by Senior Advocate Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Supreme Court, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Advocate, and Muhammad Amin Lakhani Advocate.”
Source: Business Recorder
Date:1/28/2005