The introduction of printing press during the British rule created larger public demand for books and periodicals covering different subjects. The authorities gathered the books, periodicals and journals from the press that is available throughout India. The East India Company directors demanded that the copies of all the important books shall be transmitted to England. The Royal Asiatic Society also instructed the Indian Government to comply with orders of the East India Company, but it failed. The British Government, therefore, decided to bring a regulation to compulsorily sell three copies of important work to England. For the said purpose The Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 was enacted to control the printing press for retaining copies of works and registration of such works that consists of news printed in India.
The Act provides that all the books or periodicals that are printed in India shall be printed clearly and legibly and contain details of the printer and publisher, place at which the book is printed and the place where the book is published. A person shall furnish a declaration to own any press for the purpose of printing before the District Magistrate, Presidency Magistrate or Sub-divisional Magistrate. A newspaper shall be published and circulated in India only according to the rules prescribed under the Act. The newspaper shall consist of the name of the proprietor as well as the editor and the printer and the person publishing the newspaper shall present a duplicate declaration as per the prescribed rules. The declaration shall indicate the title and language of the newspaper, periodicity and such other details necessitated by the Act.
If the newspaper is not published within the prescribed time, the declaration shall become void and a fresh declaration shall be presented according to the specified rules. The declaration so made shall be authenticated by the magistrate by putting his signature and seal on two copies of the declaration. Where a person has ceased to be a printer or publisher after the declaration has been filed and authentication is complete, such person shall immediately inform the Magistrate that he is no more a printer or publisher as declared. The editor shall lodge a complaint before the magistrate if his name appears incorrectly on the newspaper and the magistrate after conducting necessary inquiry declare that for legal proceedings his declaration shall not be taken in evidence. The Press Registrar or the Magistrate is empowered to cancel the declaration made with regard to a newspaper where an application is presented by a person, after conducting sufficient inquiry. The declaration shall be cancelled on the ground that it is contrary to the provisions of the Act, the title of the newspaper resembles another newspaper already being published in India, the printer or publisher has ceased to be so or the declaration is made concealing certain material facts.
If the Magistrate refuses to authenticate the copy of the declaration, the aggrieved person shall prefer an appeal before the Press and Registration Appellate Board. The Appellate Board shall consist of Chairman and another member appointed on the recommendation of the Press Council of India as included by the Press Councils Act, 1978. The Appellate Board is empowered to regulate its proceedings and its decision shall be final and absolute. The copies of all books and newspaper printed in India shall be delivered to the officer of the State Government free of cost without considering the agreement between the printer and publisher. The Act penalizes a person for printing newspapers inconsistent with the provisions of the Act with fine and simple imprisonment. The Act also punishes for non-furnishing of declaration, false statement, non-conformity with the rules, failure to supply copies to the Government etc.
The State Government shall appoint an officer to be in charge of catalogue of books that are printed in India where the memorandum of all the books delivered to the Government shall be registered providing such particulars as specified under the Act. The Central Government is empowered under the Act to appoint the Registrar of Newspapers to supervise and regulate the functions of press registrar. The Registrar shall retain a register in which the details of the newspapers published in India shall be included. The Central government and the State Government are authorized to formulate rules in conformity with the provisions of the Act. In exercise of the powers conferred by the Act, the Central Government has framed The Registration of Newspapers (Central) Rules, 1956 and The Press and Registration Appellate Board (Practice and Procedure) Order, 1961.
In 2010, the Parliament has enacted Press and Registration of Books and Publications Act to amend the 1867 Act and insert the edition of newspaper using internet and to give legal recognition to orders of the executive dealing with foreign direct investment.