Press in India after Independence

Press in India after Independence

The Indian press (both vernacular and English Language) played a major role in National Awakening and mobilising public opinion and fighting for freedom of India. In independent India Freedom of speech and expression (Article 19) under which Freedom of Press is implicit, is vital to ensure Rule of Law and Liberty of the Citizens. Press in India after Independence found itself into an unfamiliar situation since its role as crusader or agitator had somewhat withered away. To criticize the newly formed state, was found improper and unfair by the press in India after Independence.

Development of Press in India after Independence

In March 1947 a Press enquiry committee was established to analyse the various existing laws and regulations and to modulate them in accordance with the Fundamental Rights proposed by the Constituent Assembly.

Press Enquiry Committee, 1947

  • The committee recommended to repeal the Indian Emergency Powers Act of 1931, Modification in Section 124-A and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code, Amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act.

Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution

  • Under this article, constitution gave all Indians Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.

Article 19(2) of Indian Constitution

  • It mentions reasonable restrictions on the exercise of Freedom of Speech and Expression which can be imposed by the state.

Such Restrictions mentioned in Article 19(2) are-

  1. Sovereignty and Integrity of India
  2. Security of state
  3. Friendly Relations with the foreign states
  4. Public Order
  5. Decency and Morality
  6. Contempt of Court
  7. Defamation
  8. Incitement to an Offense

Press (Objectionable Matters) Act, 1951

  • This act replaced the Press (Emergency) Powers Act-1931 and was considered harmless since it was against such publications and printing which would incite violence and other objectionable matter.
  • The act provisioned with the judicial enquiry by the session judge before the security of the newspaper to be confiscated.
  • The accused had a right to appeal to the High Court against the order of session Judge.

Press Commission under Justice Rajadhyaksha

  • It recommended for the establishment of an All India Press Council in order to regulate the Indian Press.

Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act, 1954

  • The Newspaper was defined under the act as any printed periodical work containing public news or comments on public news and under Section 3A of the act, publisher of each newspaper has to deliver one copy of each issue of newspaper to each such public library as may be notified by the Central Govt.

The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1956

  • Since the dissemination of publications containing stories of glorification of crime, violence and immorality is likely to encourage the anti-social activities among the youth and children, thus in order to prevent the dissemination of certain harmful publications to young people this act was brought forward.

The Parliamentary Proceedings Act, 1956

  • According to the provisions of the act for publishing a substantially true report of proceedings of Parliament in a newspaper no person shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings in the court.

Copyright Act, 1957

  • The defines what is copyright and what is not; and it mentions, for the purpose of reporting current events in newspaper, magazine or periodical there will be no infringement of copyright.

Criminal Law Amendment Act 1961

  • This law provisioned to impose the restrictions on the freedom of press, the ground being Security of state.
  • This act was given special constitutional protection and Article 19(2) was amended by the 16th constitutional Amendment Act 1963 and words Sovereignty and Integrity of India were inserted.

Defence of India Act 1961

  • The citizen can not claim protection under Article 19 as long as the emergency lasts and Clause 7 of Section 3 of this act is related with the imposition of censorship on printing and publishing of newspaper.

Press Council Act 1965

  • This was enacted to maintain and improve the standards of the newspaper and simultaneously to maintain the freedom of press.
  • The act got repealed during the time of emergency when the Publication of Objectionable Matter Ordinance was promulgated in December 1975.

Civil Defence Act 1968

  • Under the act printing and publication of any newspaper could be prohibited if it contains anything detrimental to Civil Defense.

Contempt of Courts Act 1971

  • Any writing which lowers the authority of the court or hinders or interfere with the delivery of Justice is considered Contempt of the Court.
  • Personal Attack on judges accrediting partiality, corruption, Political Bias, dishonesty etc. is considered Contempt of Court although press has the privilege of fair comment.

Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Ordinance 1975-76

Govt of the day felt that sometimes Press was violating its freedom and defaming the dignitaries thus President promulgated Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matter Ordinance, 1975, which in substance brought back the provisions of the Press (Objectionable Matters) Act, 1951.

Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Repeal Act 1976

  • This removed the Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1956 and was considered as a backward step in terms of ensuring the freedom of the press in India.

Insertion of Article 361 A in the Constitution

  • The newly elected Janata Govt tried to remove all the restrictions that were imposed on press during emergency and provided Constitutional Protection to the, Parliamentary Proceedings (Protection of Publication) Act, 1977 by inserting article 361 A through the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978.

Press Council Act, 1978

The act aimed to preserve the freedom of press and under the provisions of this act Press Council with more representative composition and improved provisions was re-established.

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