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Trend-setting victory in the regime of media rights

First of its kind, a working journalist serving private media has become victorious in a battle for professional rights in Nepal.

Journalist Ram Prasad Dahal who was sacked illegally by Chairman of Utsarga Publications, Mahendra Sherchan from the Rajdhani daily as reporter in 2005 has finally won the legal battle he fought against Mr Sherchan.

Mr Dahal, who was demanding due remuneration and dignified reinstatement in the post in the daily as per the prevailing Labour Act and Working Journalist Act of Nepal since his ouster, was provided due remuneration by Publications Chairman Shercan at the Bagmati Regional Labour Office, Teku, on July 18, 2012 in the presence of Office Chief Nabin Kumar Pokhrel. With the Court mediation, the case was settled in an amicable atmosphere.

It is an example how an unyielding owner of media houses becomes bound to respect journalist's right to professional security thereby abiding by the existing laws.

'It is the first-ever and the biggest victory in the regime of media rights in Nepal, which will serve as a milestone to leverage the voice for better press freedom situation. The case is first of its kind in private media in Nepal', said Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal.

Journalist Dahal fought untiringly for his rights running from the Supreme Court to Labour Court time and again.

Lately, the Bagmati Regional Labour Office, Teku, on July 16, 2012, had asked the Chairman of Utsarga Publications, Mahendra Sherchan to present himself before the Office and pay the amount to journalist Ram Prasad Dahal whom he sacked illegally in March 2005, or face the Labour Court decision of two months' jail and Rs 5,000 as fine.

Journalist Dahal was also asked to come to the Office with the claim of the money he is to get from Sherchan.

Earlier, on May 30, 2012, journalist Dahal was denied wage and restoration in the daily as per the Labour Court decision.

The Labour Court, Kathmandu, on April 12, 2012, had ordered Mahendra Sherchan, Chairman of Utsarga Publications Pvt Ltd. to provide the salary to journalist, Ram Prasad Dahal for sacking him from the Rajdhani national daily, restore him and inform the court about his restoration in the daily.

Even before these decisions, journalist Dahal had to run from one court to another for the same cause.
After the case settled finally in an amicable atmosphere on July 18, 2012, he shared happiness saying, "I achieved victory. Not only me but the entire Nepali media got justice, and rights as it will serve as a precedent in consolidating freedom of expression in general."

The owners of media houses have flouted the Working Journalist Act and failed to pay remuneration to journalists. It has affected directly the professionalism in journalists, the torch bearers of press freedom and right to information in the country.

It is noted that the President of International Federation of Journalists Jim Boumelha has been closely observing the case.

Freedom Forum is pleased to inform that it provided legal support to journalist Dahal.