The High Court has issued a rule asking why the provisions attached to the Ninth Wage Board (as per the Cabinet's recommendations) should not be declared illegal and contradictory to the order of the Appellate Division.
According to the provisions included in the 12th chapter of the Ninth Wage Board, newsmen themselves will have to pay income taxes and receive one annual gratuity.
The rule asked the Cabinet, and Secretaries of Information and Labour to respond within four weeks.
A High Court bench of Justices Mujibur Rahman Miah and Mahiuddin Shamim issued the rule in response to a writ petition filed by Md Mahbubuzzaman, general secretary of Bangladesh Sangbad Sanstha (BSS) Workers' Union.
Barristers Dr Qazi Akter Hamid and Ruhul Quddus Kazal stood for the writ, while Deputy Attorney General Nowroz Md Russell Chowdhury represented the state.
The writ petition said that according to an order by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, the employer has to pay income tax on the salaries of journalists and employees of newspapers and news agencies.
The employing authority is bound to pay the income taxes as per the order, but in the Ninth Wage Board, the income tax is imposed on the newsmen and employees.
Also, the 7th chapter of the Ninth Wage Board clearly indicates that journalists are entitled to two gratuities (equivalent to two months' basic salary) per year. But the Cabinet recommended one gratuity (equivalent to one month's basic salary), and that provision was included in the 12th chapter of the gazette of the Ninth Wage Board, which is self-contradictory.
The government formed a 13-member wage board headed by retired Appellate Division Judge Md Nizamul Huque on 29 January 2018.
The board submitted a report on 4 November 2018 to the Information Minister with a recommendation to increase salaries of news personnel by 85%.
On 21 January 2019, the Cabinet Committee formed to review the Ninth Wage Board Award for journalists and employees was reconstituted. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader will now lead the seven-member committee as its convenor.
The government published the "Ninth Wage Board Award" for journalists and employees of newspapers and news agencies in gazette form on 12 September last year.