Free speech Tracker|
|INS concerned over amendments in print media law|
Indian Newspaper Society (INS) president Kundan R Vyas has expressed deep concern on the Cabinet's approval to amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 without any consultation with stakeholders. He felt the purpose of amending a legislation ought to be to remove anomalies and to plug loopholes prejudicial to public order.
However, the amendment cleared by the Cabinet without any proper consultation with the industry contains a section providing `penalty', which is draconian and also violative of chapter 3 of the Constitution. It provides for punishment of suspension of a publication for a period of 30 days and 60 days for first and second offences respectively, cancellation of registration for a third
offence and even imprisonment. The punishments are prescribed for several technical violations. The suspension of a publication is too wide a power to be granted to a magistrate or even press registrar, he said.
In a statement, Vyas said, "Any provision that causes cessation of a publication has no place in democracy and is violative of right to freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution." Suspension of publication, restriction on registration of names similar to foreign titles is bound to have far reaching adverse consequences to the Indian print media. The amendments seek to vest
wide ranging powers to the Press Registrar of India, he said.
Vyas urged I&B minister Ambika Soni to take a serious view on the concerns of the industry and initiate consultations with the industry prior to the bill being placed before Parliament.