EDEN IAS

PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF PERIODICALS ACT, 2023

Why in the news Press and Registration of Periodicals Act?

The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, which repeals the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, a law from the colonial era, has received assent from the president.

Press and Registration of Periodicals Act

Brief history of The Press and Registration of Books Act 1867:

  • Censorship of Press Act of 1799 (under Lord Wellesley): The purpose of the Act was to stifle newspaper criticism in anticipation of a possible French invasion of India. However, Lord Hastings withdrew it in 1818.
  • Licensing Regulations (ordinance), 1823 (under Acting Governor General John Adams): It contained a strict clause prohibiting anyone from beginning or continuing to operate a press without first registering. Because of this act, Rammohan Roy’s Mirat-ul-Akbar had to be discontinue.
  • Press Act of 1835 (under Governor General Metcalfe): Governor General Metcalfe was bestow with the esteem title of “Liberator of the Indian Press” after the Press Act of 1835, which was view as a ray of emancipation. As a result, between 1835 and 1857, the Indian vernacular press expands quickly throughout the country.
  • The Licensing Act of 1857: The “Revolt of 1857” led to the creation of the Act, which adding “licensing restrictions” to the already-existing “registration procedure”.
  • Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act 1867 (under viceroy Lord John Lawrence): This Act requires the names of printers, publishers, and publishing locations to be prints on all print materials. This Act was primarily design to give the government total control over the press, book publishers, and printers.
  • Additional Amendments: The Act was modify numerous times between 1870 and 1983, but it remains complicating and procedurally onerous, particularly for small and medium-size publishers.

Salient Features of Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill 2023:

  1. Grant of title allotment and Certificate of Registration Periodicals
  • The Bill provides for a simple online mechanism to apply for title verification and grant of certificate of registration by the Press Registrar General to a periodical as a simultaneous process.
  • There is no requirement of furnishing any declaration before the local authority or its authentication by the local authority.
  • A person who has been convict by any court for an offence involving terrorist act or unlawful activity, or having done anything against the security of the State shall not be permitting to bring out a periodical.
  • Facsimile edition of a foreign periodical can be prints in India with prior approval of the Central Government and its registration with the Press Registrar General.
  1. Printing Presses
  • A printer of a periodical to furnish an online intimation to the Press Registrar General and the local authority.
  • No requirement by the Printer to file any declaration before the local authority or obtain authentication from the authority.
  1. Role of District magistrate/local authority
  • The Bill envisages minimalistic role of the District Magistrate/local authority with regard to grant of Certificate of Registration and title allotment.
  • On receipt of an application, the District Magistrate expects to provide its comments/NOC to the Press Registrar General within 60 days; thereafter the Press Registrar General can proceed to take a decision for grant of registration even where the comments/NOC not receive from the DM/local authority after 60 days.
  • No requirement for a publisher to file any declaration before the District Magistrate.

Difference between the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867 and the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill 2023:

  • Books which were part of the PRB Act 1867 have been taken away from the purview of the PRP Bill 2023, as books as a subject administer by the Ministry of HRD.
  • Printing presses do not have to file any declaration before the District Magistrate; only an online intimation has to be file before the Press Registrar General and the District Magistrate.
  • No declaration has to be files by the publisher of the periodical before the District authority; application for title allotment and grant of Certificate of Registration would be made simultaneously to the Press Registrar General and the district authority and decision would be taken by the Press Registrar General.
  • Statute has been substantially decriminalize as against the PRB Act 1867 which had severe penalties leading to conviction and imprisonment up to 6 months for various violations of the Act.
  • In the 2023 Bill, punishment of jail up to six months envisage only in the extreme cases where a periodical publish without a Certificate of Registration and the publisher fails to cease the printing of such publication even after six months of direction has been issue to that effect by the Press Registrar General.
  • In the 1867 Act, only the DM could cancel the declaration of a periodical, the Press Registrar General did not have suo motu powers to cancel or suspend Certificate of Registration granted by it. The PRP Bill 2023 empowers the Press Registrar General to suspend/cancel the Certificate of Registration.

Press and Registration of Periodicals Act.1

Benefits of PRP Act 2023:

  • Digitalization: The Act streamlines and expedites the process of registering magazines and assigning titles.
  • Fast-tracking the process: The Act gives the Press Registrar General the ability to fast-track the process, ensuring that publishers have little trouble initiating a publication. A single step has been created by combining the registration and title verification applications.
  • Decriminalization: By essentially decriminalizing all offenses under the previous legislation, the new statute eliminates the colonial legacy.
  • Provides clarity: The act clarifies a number of processes and situations, including ownership transfers, circulation verification of newspapers, and facsimile versions of foreign publications.

Conclusion:

The 2023 Act supports media freedom and is in line with the modern era of free press. With a focus on quicker and more effective service delivery via a troika of technology, transparency, and trust, it offers digital governance.

Source: PIB