The government has been weighing various options of bringing a legal force to its print media norms related to foreign newspapers in India, after the International Herald Tribune (IHT) controversy. Now, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry is learnt to have narrowed down on amendment to the Press & Registration of Books Act for the purpose. The I&B ministry is likely to propose the amendment, which would be considered by the Union Cabinet shortly. Sources in the ministry have indicated that “a piece of legislation” would be put in place in the next few weeks.
This is a priority issue for the government right now, as the Budget session of Parliament is expected to include quite a few questions on publication of Ind-ian edition of foreign newspapers. Currently, Indian edition of foreign newspapers is not allowed, as per the Cabinet Res-olution of 1955. But, as a ministry source put it, “the government has the moral force of (Jawaharlal) Nehru’s Cab-inet Resolution”, but there’s no “legal force” to enforce it.
As reported earlier, the government is now exercising a greater control over the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI), which is responsible for granting titles to publications. A tighter grip on RNI would prevent foreign publications from printing Indian editions, till a law is put in place.
The law ministry and even the attorney general, Mr Milon Banerjee, were consulted by the I&B ministry to work out a solution on the foreign newspaper issue.