INS concerned over some parts of amended print media law

The Indian Newspaper Society expressed concern over the Cabinet`s approval to amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act saying the govt had not held any consultations with stakeholders before finalising it.

Updated: Feb 10, 2011, 19:28 PM IST

New Delhi: The Indian Newspaper Society
today expressed concern over the Cabinet`s approval to
amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act saying
the government had not held any consultations with
stakeholders before finalising it.

The purpose of amending a legislation ought to be to
remove anomalies and plug loopholes prejudicial to public
order. However, the amendments cleared by the Cabinet "without
any proper consultation with the industry" contain a section
providing "penalty", which is draconian and also violative of
the constitution, INS President Kundan R Vyas said here.

He said 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.

"Any provision that causes cessation of a publication has
no place in democracy and is violative of right to freedom of
speech", he said in a release.

Vyas urged Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika
Soni to take a serious view on concerns of the industry and
initiate consultations with the industry before the bill is
placed in Parliament.

A comprehensive bill to replace the age-old law relating
to print media that will cover internet edition of newspapers
and include provisions on limits on foreign news content and
investment was today approved by the Union Cabinet.

At the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
the Cabinet decided to amend the 1867 Press and Registration
of Books Act to streamline the age-old processes pertaining to
the print media policy.

PTI