The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill will replace the Press and Registration of Books Act of 1867.
The Rajya Sabha today passed the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill 2023 by a voice vote.
Introduced in the upper house on Tuesday, the Bill proposes a simplified registration process for periodicals and provides for an appellate authority. It also removes punishments like imprisonment for minor offences.
The Bill will replace the archaic Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. Its statement of objects and reasons says the 1867 Act was “procedurally cumbersome and complex making it extremely burdensome and time-consuming”. Additionally, its punitive fines and penalties “even for small contraventions was anachronistic to the constitutional values”.
Last year while talking about the draft legislation, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur had said the government was undecided about including digital media under its ambit. In its final version, the Bill defines a publication as “newspapers, magazines, journals or newsletters printed periodically and published in India, and shall include its reproduction in electronic form or any syndication, facsimile edition, for public distribution or access”.
In the Rajya Sabha today, Thakur said the Bill would lead to ease of doing business for media companies. He also warned: “Those involved in terrorist activities or unlawful activities against the state will not be granted permission to start a paper or periodical.” This will also apply to anyone who is “acting against the security of the state”.
Newslaundry had reported at length on the proposed Bill in 2019 when the government had invited public comments on it. Read all about it here.