Press and Registration of Periodicals Act 2023

Context: Press and Registration of Books Act amendments to come into force on Sept. 1


About Press and Registration of Periodicals Act 2023

  • It seeks to simplify the registration process for periodicals and make it mandatory for digital news platforms to do a “one-time registration” in order to operate.
  • It replaces the existing Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, of 1867, which governs the registration of the print and publishing industry in the country.
  • The aim is to bring transparency and ease of doing business. It will provide for a simple process that will help small and medium publishers.

Provision of Press and Registration of Periodicals Act 2023

  • Registration of periodicals: The Act allows for registering newspapers, periodicals, and books, and cataloguing books. The act focuses on registering periodicals containing public news or comments on it, excluding books and academic journals.
  • Declaration of periodicals: In the 1867 Act, only the district magistrate (DM) could cancel the declaration of a periodical, while the Press Registrar General (PRG) did not have suo motu powers to cancel or suspend the Certificate of Registration granted by it. However, the PRP Act empowers the PRG to suspend/cancel registration.
  • Foreign periodicals:  An exact reproduction of a foreign periodical may be printed in India only with the prior approval of the central government.  The manner of registration of such periodicals will be prescribed. 
  • Appellate Authority: It also provides for an appellate authority. The Appellate Board (Press and Registration Appellate Board) will comprise the chairperson, Press Council of India (PCI), and two members of PCI to hear an appeal against the refusal of grant of registration, imposition of any penalty or suspension/cancellation of registration by PRG.
  • Suspension and cancellation of registration:  The act allows the Press Registrar General to suspend a periodical’s registration for a minimum period of 30 days which can extend to 180 days.
  • Reason for suspension and cancellation of registration: The registration may be suspended due to: (i) registration obtained by furnishing false information, (ii) failure to publish periodicals continuously, and (iii) giving false particulars in annual statements.  The Press Registrar General may cancel the registration if the publisher does not correct such defects.
  • Registration may also be cancelled if: (i) a periodical has the same or similar title as any other periodical, (ii) the owner/ publisher has been convicted of a terrorist act or unlawful activity, or for acting against the security of the state.    
  • Offence: A person who has been convicted by any court for an offence involving a terrorist act or unlawful activity, or having done anything against the security of the state shall not be permitted to bring out a periodical.
  • Penalties: It waters down the penal provisions of the PRB Act, which made improper declaration of information a punishable offence with a prison term of up to six months. Under the new Act, imprisonment for up to six months is only applicable if a periodical is published without registration, and the publisher continues printing it after a six-month notice from PRG to stop.
  • Appeal: Any person may appeal against the refusal to issue a registration certificate, suspension/ cancellation of registration or imposition of penalty.  Such appeals may be filed before the Press and Registration Appellate Board within 60 days.  
  • Exclusion: Books, which were part of the PRB Act, of 1867, have been taken out of the purview of this act as books as a subject are administered by the Ministry of Education.

Press Registrar General

The Office of the Registrar of Newspapers for India, more popularly known as RNI came into being in 1956, on the recommendation of the First Press Commission in 1953 and by amending the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867.

Functions: The office performs both statutory as well as non-statutory functions.

Statutory functions Compilation and maintenance of a Register of Newspapers containing particulars about all the newspapers published.Issue of Certificate of Registration to the newspapers published under valid declaration;Informing the District Magistrates about availability of titles, to intending publishers for filing declaration;

Non-statutory functions:

Formulation of Newsprint Allocation Policy – Guidelines and issue of Eligibility Certificate to the newspapers to enable them to import newsprint and to procure indigenous newsprint.Assessing and certifying the essential need and requirement of newspaper establishments to import printing and composing machinery and allied materials.

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