CAT hits pause on AIR move to recruit RJs

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Thursday stayed the process of auditions and hiring of new radio jockeys (RJs) and presenters by the All India Radio FM. The stay came after members of the AIR Broadcasting Association (AIRBA) approached the tribunal with the plea that there was no clarity on the position and service conditions of the existing RJs and presenters who have been working at AIR FM for a long time.

The presenters' body had also alleged that there was already a large number of RJs engaged on contract by AIR FM and that "both the FM channels of Delhi station were crammed". The application had also pleaded that it had "become impossible" to assign a fair share of duties to the existing presenters and objected to the proposal of hiring fresh presenters.

The AIR was scheduled to conduct auditions to hire RJs from January 28.

The AIRBA in its application before the CAT had pleaded that "the inaction" of the government "in formulating any policy regarding the strength of RJ Presenters and their service conditions and at the same time initiating the process of inducting fresh RJ presenters" was "arbitrary, illegal, unjust and unconstitutional".

The AIRBA had approached the CAT after the Ministry of I&B, Prasar Bharti and the All India Radio failed to respond to repeated requests by presenters to fix sanctioned strength of employees or address representations submitted over the past three years regarding fixing of duty charts, payment of arrears and other service conditions.

The AIRBA had given a list of six separate representations made by the Presenters' Association to the government and AIR in this regard between 2011 and 2012.

The CAT has now directed the government to "consider the representations of the applicants and dispose of them by a reasoned and speaking order". The CAT has also restrained the Ministry from conducting the auditions or engaging casual RJs "till the representations are disposed of".

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