The High Court (HC) today declared the recommendations made by the cabinet committee in the 9th Wage Board Award for journalists and workers of newspapers and news agencies regarding income tax and gratuity illegal.
A High Court division bench comprising Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Md Shohrowardi passed the order, declaring absolute a rule issued in this regard in 2020.
According to the cabinet committee recommendations for the 9th Wage Board, income tax levied on the salaries of journalists, press workers and administrative employees must be paid from their respective income.
Journalists, press workers and administrative employees working at newspapers and news agencies of all categories will get a yearly gratuity equal to their one month of basic salary based on their last month’s draw, for their service ranging six months or more.
Mohammad Mahbubuzzaman, general secretary of the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha-BSS Employees' Union, filed the writ petition on November 23, 2020, challenging the aforesaid two provisions of the 9the Wage Board.
The High Court after holding a hearing on the matter issued the rule on November 25, 2020, asking authorities concerned to explain why it shall not declare illegal and beyond legal jurisdiction the recommendations made by the cabinet committee.
The court had asked cabinet, information and labour secretaries to reply to its order in four weeks.
It also recommended that the journalists, press workers and administrative employees working at newspapers and news agencies of all categories will get a yearly gratuity equal to their two months of basic salary based on their last month's draw, for service ranging from six months or more.
But the cabinet committee had made two recommendations the other way, asking the journalists and employees to pay income tax by themselves and keeping provision of getting yearly gratuity equal to their one month of basic salary, Advocate Hamid added.
“The journalists, press workers and administrative employees of the newspapers and news agencies had so far got as fringe benefit the money paid against their income tax. We have Appellate Division judgment in this regard too. Apart from this, according to the BSS Service Rules, journalists, and employees were getting yearly gratuity equal to their two months of basic salary.
The recommendations made by the cabinet committee are contrary to the BSS service Rules,” Advocate Dr Qazi Akter Hamid further said.