The Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1993

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The Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act (herein after mentioned as “The said act”) was passed the year 1933 and it extends to whole of India. The said act shall come into force on such date as specified by Central Government in its official gazette. The main aim behind enactment of the said act is to control or standardize the control the ownership of wireless telegraphy apparatus in India.

The historical background behind the enactment of the said act can be traced from the Indian Telegraphy Act, 1855. The Indian State Broadcasting Service faced loss of a major chunk of revenue due to persons using unlicensed wireless apparatus. It was complicated for the government to trace such people at initially and later to prove that the wireless apparatus possessed, used and serviced by them is unlicensed. The said act came into picture to prosecute such persons who are using or maintaining wireless apparatus illegally.

The definition of “ wireless communication” means any reception or broadcasting of signals or transmission of any sign or symbol or any written content without the use of wires. Such communication is wire free and takes place through transmission of signals in hertz.

“Wireless telegraphy apparatus” is also defined as any instrument, appliance or apparatus which is capable to be used in wireless communication and any other instrument mentioned in rule of section 10 to be wireless telegraphy apparatus. But it excludes any other instrument or electronic appliance which is not specifically designed for wireless communication.

According to Section 3 of this act, any person who is found in possession of any wireless apparatus without obtaining a license as prescribed under this act shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend for three years or with a fine or both. However, under section 4 of this act, the Central Government may exempt any person from obtaining licence required for the possession of wireless telegraphy apparatus.

Section 5 of this act deals with the competent authority to issue the license under the act. The section provides that the telegraphy authority constituted under the Indian Telegraphy Act, 1855 is capable to issue license under this act.

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The misdemeanour and penalties for such wrong doing is prescribed under section 6 of the said act includes that whoever commits a breach of provisions under Section 3 of the said act shall be fined with a penalty of rupees hundred on first occurrence and on subsequent breaches the fine shall be rupees two hundred and fifty.  Also whoever is in possession of wireless transmitter which is in contravention of section 3 shall be punished with imprisonment which shall extend to three years or with fine which shall extend to one thousand rupees or with both. The section further directs that during the trial of any such offence, the court shall presume that the person is in possession of the wireless transmitter even if the person is in ostensible possession or if such apparatus is found in any premises where he has effectual control.

Section 7 empowers the any officer who is specially appointed by Central Government to search any building, vessel or place where he finds any reason to believe that any wireless transmitter has been kept concealed or illegally possessed or the said possession is in contravention of section 6 of this act.

Section 8 of the said act deals with confiscated apparatus found under sub section (3) of section 6 having no ostensible owner. Such confiscated apparatus shall be assumed to be a property of Central Government.

Section 9 of the said act depicts the power of the court to direct payment of fines to the prescribed authority. However, the said section stands repealed.

Section 10 empowers the Central Government to make rules by notification in its official gazette for the purpose of effective implementation of this act. The Central Government is at liberty to decide and frame such rules as necessary in respect of the following subjects-rule governing section 4 of the said act for exempting any person or class of person from obtaining license under the said act. Rule for deciding the mode of issue, renewal, suspension or cancellation of any license held under the said act. Rule prescribed for the sale of wireless telegraphy apparatus through the dealers and persons who manufacturer these apparatus. Further, it allows the Central Government to frame rules for maintenance of record for sale and manufacture of wireless telegraphy apparatus. The section also empowers to direct a fine of rupees hundred in case of breach of any rule framed hereunder.

Section 11 of the act illustrates that the Indian Telegraphy Act, 1855 shall have an overriding effects in terms of provisions under this act, where provisions which are prohibited under Indian Telegraphy Act, 1855 shall prohibit any person to do any act under this said act.

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by Dakshaja Yeolekar.