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New Law Enacted to Regulate Printing Press and Periodicals

The Press and Registration of Periodicals Act, 2023, which regulates printing press and periodicals, received presidential assent on December 29, 2023. This Act repeals the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, and will take effect on the date as may be notified by the Central Government.

While registration of books was covered under provisions of the 1867 Act, the 2023 Act expressly excludes books from its purview. Section 2(g) defines a “periodical” as “any publication, including a newspaper, which is published and printed at regular intervals containing public news or comments on public news, but does not include a book, or a journal including a book or journal of scientific, technical and academic nature”.

In another notable deviation from the previous law, the 2023 Act prohibits those persons from bringing out a periodical who have been convicted for any offence pertaining to terrorist or unlawful activity, or any act against the security of the State. Only Indian citizens and entities incorporated and registered in the country can bring out a periodical under the Act. When it comes to foreign periodicals, the printing of their replicas or facsimile editions in India would require previous approval of the Central Government.

A certificate of registration has to be obtained by the publishers of periodicals from the Press Registrar General of India. For this purpose, an online application has to be made and the authorisation of the periodical’s owner has to be secured. If a periodical is to be discontinued, an intimation in this regard has to be provided to the Press Registrar General and the concerned local authority within 6 months. Section 11 specifies the grounds on which the certificate of registration may be suspended or cancelled and one of the grounds for suspension is failure to publish the periodical continuously. Further, publishers have to file annual statements and would face penalties for non-compliance.

Under the Act, the Press and Registration Appellate Board will hear appeals against orders refusing to grant registration certificates, cancellation or suspension of registration or imposition of penalty.