It will replace the Act of 1867

The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to replace the age-old Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, with a new law.

Among other things, the proposed Bill will give statutory backing to guidelines and executive orders issued, from time to time, on such issues as the foreign direct investment limit and facsimile editions, and scientific, technical and other specialised journals. It will also have a provision to bar those convicted under the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act from bringing out publications, and to prevent blocking of titles.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the Bill would require that the publication be brought out within a year of registration of the title.

The title owners would have to maintain the periodicity of the publication and submit annual statements on matters like circulation figures.

Noting that more than 70,000 publications were registered now, Raghu Menon, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said the Registrar of Newspapers had in recent years de-blocked “thousands” of titles lying unused for long. “Now, [following the new legislation], there will be a proper legal backing for the process.”

The Bill would also set time frames for approval of new titles and cover Internet editions of newspapers.