Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023: Key Features and Changes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, faced opposition uproar but was passed in the Rajya Sabha on August 3. Subsequently, it was approved in the Lok Sabha on December 21, marking its legislative passage.

Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill: Purpose and Objectives

  • Repealing the 1867 Act: The Bill aims to repeal the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, modernizing the regulatory framework for periodicals.
  • Key Provisions: It includes a notable clause preventing individuals convicted of terrorism or acting against state security from publishing periodicals.
  • Rationale for Introduction: The Bill focuses on easing business processes for publishers, removing procedural hurdles, and reducing the administrative burden of declarations and filings.

Comparison with the 1867 Act

  • Exclusion of Books: Unlike the 1867 Act, the 2023 Bill excludes books from its purview, as they fall under the HRD Ministry’s jurisdiction.
  • Penalty Structure: The new Bill replaces imprisonment with fines for certain violations and introduces an appellate mechanism led by the Press Council of India Chairman.
  • Shift in Administrative Power: Power is transferred from the District Magistrate to the newly established Press Registrar General, centralizing the registration and regulation process.

Declaration and Registration Process

  • Simplification of Procedures: The Bill simplifies the declaration process, eliminating the need for DM involvement and allowing online intimations for printing presses.
  • Simultaneous Processing: It enables concurrent processing of title allotment and registration applications, streamlining the procedure.
  • Time-Bound Responses: The specified authority must provide feedback within 60 days, expediting the registration process.

UAPA Provision in the Bill

  • Restriction on Convicted Individuals: The Bill bars individuals convicted of terrorist acts or unlawful activities, as defined under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, from publishing periodicals.
  • Security Concerns: This provision addresses concerns about the misuse of periodicals for activities threatening national security or sovereignty.


  • Modernizing Media Regulation: The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, represents a significant overhaul of India’s media regulatory framework, aligning it with contemporary needs.
  • Balancing Ease of Business and Security: While the Bill aims to facilitate easier operations for publishers, it also incorporates measures to safeguard against security threats.
  • Potential for Debate and Discussion: The Bill’s passage, amidst opposition concerns, suggests ongoing debates about media freedom, security, and regulatory oversight in India’s evolving democratic landscape.

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