Parliament passes Bill simplifying registration of periodicals

Union Minister Anurag Thakur speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter session of Parliament
| Photo Credit: PTI

Parliament passed a Bill on Thursday to make the process of allotment of title and registration of periodicals simple and simultaneous through an online system without the requirement of any physical interface.

The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, was passed by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. It was passed in the Rajya Sabha on August 3.

The bill replaces the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867.

Introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said the legislation will make the registration of periodicals a one-step process. The British era law involved eight-steps.

“This bill is simple, smart and has a simultaneous process for registration of newspapers and periodicals. Earlier newspapers or magazines had to pass through an eight-step registration process. This can now be done with the click of a button,” he said.

Decriminalise statute

The Minister said the Government’s priority has been to end criminality, improve ease of doing business and ease of living through new laws and accordingly efforts have been made to substantially decriminalise the colonial era statute.

For certain violations, financial penalties have been proposed instead of conviction as earlier. Further, a credible appellate mechanism, headed by the Chairperson, Press Council of India has been included. Stressing the ease of doing business aspect, Mr Thakur said adding title registration process, which sometimes took 2-3 years, would now be done in 60 days.

This new law would enable the Press Registrar General to fast track the process, thereby ensuring that publishers, especially small and medium publishers, face little difficulty in starting a publication. Most importantly, the publishers would no longer be required to file a declaration with the District Magistrates or the local authorities and get such declarations authenticated.

Furthermore, printing presses would also not be required to furnish any such declaration; only an intimation would be sufficient, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said in a statement.

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