Journalists not employees under Unfair Labour Practices Act: Bombay High Court [6.3.2024]

Working journalists do not fall in the definition of employees under the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act as they enjoy a special status, the Bombay High Court has said.

Consequently, a complaint filed by a working journalist under these Acts before an industrial court would not be maintainable, a division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Sandeep Marne said in its order of February 29.

They enjoy a special status under provisions of the Working Journalists Act and have a recourse to settle their disputes under the Industrial Disputes Act, the HC said.

The judgement came on petitions filed by two working journalists challenging orders of the industrial court in 2019 rejecting their complaints on the ground that working journalists did not fall within the term of employee or workman under the Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act.

The bench noted that the Working Journalists Act, 1955 has already established a mechanism for dispute resolution under the Industrial Disputes Act.

While dismissing the petitions, the HC noted said working journalists constitute a different class with unique privileges and protections in their employment under the Working Journalists Act.

"If there is no difference between the working journalist and workmen then it cannot be that the working journalist retains special privileges while they are denied to other workmen including non-working journalists," the high court said.

"The scheme of the Working Journalists Act would demonstrate a special status conferred on the working journalists. The Working Journalists Act was enacted to confer a special status on the working journalists and the disputes must be settled according to the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act," the HC said.

06 Mar 2024