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IHT case: RNI under scanner

23-June-2004
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IHT case: RNI under scanner

It won’t be free for all, even as the government has no legal weapon to stop the Indian edition of a foreign newspaper. To prevent other foreign publications from going the same way as International Herald Tribune (IHT), the government is now tightening its grip over the Registrar of Newspapers in India (RNI), which is responsible for granting titles to publications, according to sources. In the case of IHT, RNI registered the title even as the print media guidelines didn’t permit Indian edition of a foreign newspaper.

Now that the legal opinion with the information and broadcasting ministry is that printing of the Indian edition of IHT cannot be stopped in the absence of a law, RNI has been advised to act cautiously in granting titles. A senior I&B ministry official, however, said that there’s no final word from the law ministry yet on the options before the government in dealing with the situation.

Just after the IHT began bringing out the India edition end of May, a senior representative of the I&B ministry had told the media that they would investigate into the matter of RNI granting the IHT title to Midram Publications, which prints the paper from Hyderabad. Now that the government has realised that its guidelines are not sufficient to stop any foreign publications from bringing out India editions, it’s planning to get strict while granting title.

The I&B ministry has been consulting the law ministry on implementation of the print media guidelines, with respect to foreign publications. Attor-ney general Milon Banerjee’s views were also sought on this.

The controversy started when IHT India was published despite the 1955 Cabinet Resolution, which disallowed Indian editions of foreign publications.

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