Agartala, August 09, 2017: After a legal battle of seven long years, four journos from Tripura have finally won a case against Northeast Multimedia Private Limited owner, former media baron in Northeast India and arrested ex union minister Matang Singh.
West Tripura District and Sessions Judge Ruhidas Paul on Monday ordered the media company owners to pay compensation with 6 percent interest to four employees within 2 months.
NE Bangla, a Bengali satellite television started under the Northeast Multimedia Private Limited way back in August 07, 2007. The channel, then owned by Matang Singh and now-estranged wife Manoranjana Singh, inducted some 50 journalists from Tripura in its Tripura Bureau.
The organization suddenly rolled down shutters on February 25, 2010. No formal termination letters were provided to its employees, neither were anybody given any parting benefits.
The issue went to the Labour Commission, which assessed payable dues for employees. But the channel owners declined to pay compensation and chose to go to court instead.
A case was subsequently filed as per Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 with the West Tripura District and Sessions Judge’s court.
In his order on this case, West Tripura District and Session Judge Paul said that closure of NE Bangla and retrenchment weren’t done in proper way. The court ordered channel owners to pay compensation with 6 percent interest to employees who sought justice.
The case started with 26 employees and 17 among them opted out with small packages designed in out-of-court settlements from the owners. Only four journos Janardhan Sarkar, Sunanda Bhowmik, Nandu Malakar and Prasenjit Chakraborty stuck to the case till the very end.
Speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today on the issue, Prasenjit Chakraborty, who is now a state leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Tripura, said that the Labour Commission would now assess payable dues with all benefits that should be included over the years.
“We are expecting to be called during the assessment”, he told TNT.
Speaking about the closure of NE Bangla, Chakraborty said that the decision was a rude shock to all the employees.
“They didn’t inform us anything. For journos working in a small state like Tripura, it was difficult. The bureau was closed down for internal family problem, they told us. Employees later came to know in July that all equipments were shifted Guwahati”, he recounts.
While Matang Singh hired senior advocate Arun Chandra Bhowmik and several others to move the case for him, the court later denied them soliciting rights on the case. On the part of employees, Prasenjit Chakraborty moved the case himself. Despite being a journalist, his command on the case and matters of jurisprudence won him the case after 7 years.
Chakraborty thanked his three comrades who stood with him in the legal battle through thick and thin.
In his heydays, Matang Singh run a battery of private satellite television channels that include NE TV, NE HiFi, NE Bangla, Hmar TV, Focus TV etc. Most of these channels fell like dominoes after a family dispute with his wife resulted in a division of assets.
Both Matang Singh and Manoranjana Singh were later arrested by CBI for involvement with the Saradha chit fund scam.