Parliament Passes Bill Streamlining Periodical Registration Process
Introduction: In a significant move towards modernization, the Indian Parliament has recently passed the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, ushering in a new era for the registration of newspapers and magazines. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, while introducing the bill, emphasized its revolutionary nature, particularly in streamlining the cumbersome registration process inherited from the British era.
The legislation, spearheaded by Minister Anurag Thakur, marks a paradigm shift by condensing the registration of periodicals into a seamless one-step process. This stands in stark contrast to the antiquated British-era law, which entailed a laborious eight-step procedure. Minister Thakur highlights the simplicity and efficiency of the new bill, envisioning a future where the registration of newspapers and magazines is as easy as a click of a button.
Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867, Replaced
The passage of the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, brings about a significant overhaul by replacing the archaic Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act, 1867. This move reflects the government’s commitment to modernize outdated laws and align them with the evolving needs of the publishing industry.
Minister Thakur underscores the government’s commitment to ending criminality within the legal framework, focusing on both the ease of living and doing business. Efforts have been directed towards substantial decriminalization of the colonial-era statute. Notably, the bill proposes financial penalties for certain violations instead of convictions, aligning with the global trend of adopting more pragmatic and business-friendly approaches.
Appellate Mechanism and Ease of Doing Business
To ensure a fair and efficient legal process, the legislation introduces a credible appellate mechanism, led by the Chairperson of the Press Council of India. Stressing the importance of ease of doing business, Minister Thakur highlights that the title registration process, which previously consumed 2-3 years, will now be expedited to a mere 60 days. This monumental reduction in processing time is set to facilitate publishers, especially small and medium-sized ones, in promptly launching their publications.
Empowering the Press Registrar General: Fast-Tracking the Process
The new law empowers the Press Registrar General to fast-track the registration process. This strategic move aims to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles, ensuring that publishers, particularly those in the small and medium categories, encounter minimal difficulties in kickstarting their publications.
Relief for Publishers: Eliminating Tedious Declarations
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the legislation is the elimination of burdensome paperwork for publishers. Previously required to file declarations with District Magistrates or local authorities and undergo authentication processes, publishers are now liberated from these obligations. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry asserts that a simple intimation will now suffice, significantly reducing the administrative burden on publishers.
A More Dynamic Publishing Landscape
The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, sets the stage for a more dynamic and vibrant publishing landscape in India. By simplifying the registration process, decriminalizing statutes, and introducing swift mechanisms, the government aims to create an environment conducive to innovation and growth in the media industry. The transformative nature of this legislation aligns with the broader vision of fostering a business-friendly and progressive legal framework.
The passage of the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill marks a significant step towards modernizing regulatory frameworks, fostering ease of doing business, and facilitating the publishing industry, particularly for smaller entities.