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The  15th Law Commission under the Chairmanship of Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy in its 159th Report submitted to the Ministry of Law, Justice & Company Affairs on 28th July 1998 has proposed for the repeal of the Press & Registration of Books Act, 1867 under Para 3.14 about the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Accordingly, the report had laid down a few principles for Repeal/Amalgamation/ Amendment of certain obsolete Central enactments.

STEPS TAKEN FOR IMPLEMENTATION

About Para 3.14 of the Law Commission report about PRB Act, amendment 1867, it was informed vide letter dated 28th November 1997 that amendments to Part 1 the act were examined by the Ministry of  Law and Justice and that no further review of the act was called at that stage. The position since then has changed. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting prepared a draft cabinet note and a draft Press and Registration of Books and Publications (PRBP) Bill which was approved by Cabinet on 07.11.2011 and laid down in Parliament. The draft Bill was examined by the Standing Committee on IT and a report was submitted in December 2012. Based on its recommendations, this Ministry revised the Bill and got the approval of the Ministry of Law and Justice. However, it could not be placed before the Cabinet for approval due to the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in May 2014.

PRESENT STATUS

It was advised by the Ministry that, after lapsing of the PRBP Bill, 2011 with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in May 2014, there has been a regular attempt by M/o I&B to bring in new legislation in the place of the existing PRB Act, 1867. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has prepared a draft simplification and to make it more Bill titled "Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP)” Bill, 2019 to replace the existing PRB Act, 1867. The draft bill has been placed on the website of the Ministry http://mib.gov.in.  As part of the pre-legislative consultative process, the suggestions/ comments/ inputs from the stakeholders have been solicited.

REASONS FOR THE DELAY

As per communication from the Ministry of Information of Broadcasting, “Enactment of a new law, especially dealing with a self-regulated area like the press, is a complex and long-drawn process involving widespread consultations. The PRBP Bill, 2011 was extensively discussed with various stakeholders and it was decided to revisit this bill for further simplification and to make it more consistent in keeping with the present day’s scenario. Keeping in view the complexities of the process the bill could not be finalized.”

CONCLUSION

Since the recommendations proposed for repeal and amendment of these obsolete laws are yet to be implemented the status of the Law Commission report is treated as “Pending”.


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