INS concerned over some parts of amended print media law

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New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) The Indian Newspaper Societytoday expressed concern over the Cabinet''s approval toamendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act sayingthe government had not held any consultations withstakeholders before finalising it.

The purpose of amending a legislation ought to be toremove anomalies and plug loopholes prejudicial to publicorder. However, the amendments cleared by the Cabinet "withoutany proper consultation with the industry" contain a sectionproviding "penalty", which is draconian and also violative ofthe constitution, INS President Kundan R Vyas said here.

He said punishments are prescribed for several technicalviolations. The suspension of a publication is too wide apower to be granted to a magistrate or even Press Registrar,he said.

"Any provision that causes cessation of a publication hasno place in democracy and is violative of right to freedom ofspeech," he said in a release.

Vyas urged Information and Broadcasting Minister AmbikaSoni to take a serious view on concerns of the industry andinitiate consultations with the industry before the bill isplaced in Parliament.

A comprehensive bill to replace the age-old law relatingto print media that will cover internet edition of newspapersand include provisions on limits on foreign news content andinvestment was today approved by the Union Cabinet.

At the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,the Cabinet decided to amend the 1867 Press and Registrationof Books Act to streamline the age-old processes pertaining tothe print media policy.

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