Press and Registration Act of 1867: This act was introduced during British rule in India, with the primary aim of creating a system to record and regulate printed material. It required printers to submit copies of their publications to the government, ensuring a catalog of works published in India was maintained.
- compulsory three copies of each work published must be given to the govt - aim was to create a comprehensive record of publications, but became a way to monitor and control the dissemination of information. - regulatory, long process, damaging to democracy

Vernacular Press Act of 1878: Enacted to curtail the freedom of the Indian vernacular press, this act was a response to the criticism of British policies by the Indian-language newspapers. It allowed the government to clamp down on publications deemed seditious and was seen as discriminatory against non-English press. - suppression of the vernacular press, particularly those critical of British policies. - impacted dissemination of information

Newspaper Act of 1908: Also known as the Indian Newspaper (Incitement to Offenses) Act, this law was passed to suppress the Swadeshi movement’s influence on the press. It gave magistrates the authority to confiscate press properties that published content inciting violence or any form of anti-government sentiment. - effected the freedom of expression - activists like Bal Gangadhar Tilak being jailed for their writings

Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act of 1931: This act gave broad powers to provincial governments to suppress publications that could incite violence or undermine the authority of the government. It was a part of a series of repressive measures taken to quell the civil disobedience movement and other nationalist activities.

After Independence

Prasar Bharati Act 1990

Still in Effect

Press Council Act 1978 established to form the Press Council of India with the aim of preserving the freedom of the press and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country.

  • provides a framework for the Press Council to function as an autonomous body, ensuring that journalistic ethics are upheld and the press remains free from undue influence.
  • also outlines the composition of the Council, the terms of service for its members, and the Council’s powers and functions

Official Secrets Act 1923 colonial era rule to protect state secrets and prevent espionage - outlines strict penalties for spying and the wrongful communication of information deemed sensitive or beneficial to enemy entities. - subject to discussion especially concerning democratic transparency and the right to information. While it serves to safeguard national security, there have been calls for reforms to ensure that it does not impede the freedom of the press and the rights of citizens in a democratic society.

Defamation (Section 499)

Working Journalist Act 1955 regulate certain conditions of service of working journalists and other persons employed in newspaper establishments - minimum wages, hours of work, and terms of employment - led to creation of Wage Boards - regulations on notice periods, gratuity, provident fund, and leave with pay

Defamation (Section 499)


  • Governed by Sections 292 to 294 of the IPC.
  • Criminalizes acts that incite or attempt to incite hatred, contempt, or disaffection towards the government.

Obscenity refers to material, such as images, texts, or other forms of media, that is considered offensive, indecent, or morally repugnant according to prevailing societal standards. This could include explicit sexual content, graphic violence, or other material deemed unsuitable for public consumption. see Miller Test Criticism: Obscenity laws have been criticized for being too vague and subjective

The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. - Common prohibitions include the creation, distribution, possession, and advertisement of such representations.

RTI Act 2005 empowers its citizens to access information under the control of public authorities

  • grants citizens the legal right to request and receive information from government bodies and other organizations designated as “public authorities.” eg use of public funds
  • promotes transparency in government operations.
  • holds public authorities accountable
  • empowers citizens to participate actively in governance.
  • three-tier structure of Public Information Officers (PIOs), Appellate Authorities, and the Central Information Commission (CIC) to handle RTI applications and appeals.

Intellectual Property Right Act

  • Encompasses laws like the Copyright Act, 1957; the Patents Act, 1970; and the Trademarks Act, 1999.
  • Protects various forms of intellectual creations, including inventions, literary works, and designs.
  • Offers exclusive rights to creators and inventors against unauthorized use.

Cinematography Act 1952

  • regulates the certification of films in India, ensuring that the content displayed to the public adheres to the standards set by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
  • The Information Technology Act of 2000, also known as ITA-2000, is the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce, providing legal recognition for electronic records and digital signatures.
  • Cyber Laws of 2000, encompassing the IT Act, address the legal issues related to the use of communicative, transactional, and distributive aspects of network information technologies and devices.
  • The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 was enacted to regulate the operation of cable television networks in India, ensuring the content broadcasted adheres to the programming and advertisement codes.

Consumer Protection Act of 2019 aims to protect consumer interests, establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes. Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is responsible for regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body that oversees food safety and standards in India, ensuring the food consumed by the public is safe. Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act of 1954 controls the advertising of drugs and prohibits claims of magical qualities in remedies, making such claims a cognizable offense.

  • Cinematograph Act 1952:

    • Enacted to regulate the film industry in India.
    • Established the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
    • Provides guidelines for film certification and censorship.
    • Outlines penalties for violating the provisions of the act.
  • Information Technology Act 2000:

    • Aimed at providing legal recognition to electronic transactions.
    • Defines cybercrimes and prescribes penalties for them.
    • Establishes a framework for electronic governance by recognizing electronic records and digital signatures.
    • Addresses issues like hacking, data theft, and other cyber offenses.
  • Cyber Laws 2000:

    • Refers to the legal framework established by the Information Technology Act, 2000.
    • Covers legal issues related to the use of communicative, transactional, and distributive aspects of network information technologies and devices.
    • Includes provisions for the protection of data and privacy.
  • Cable TV Network Act 1995:

    • Regulates the operation of cable television networks in India.
    • Mandates registration of cable operators with the government.
    • Sets down the programme and advertising codes for content broadcasted on cable television.
    • Provides for the regulation of content and operation of cable networks.
  • Consumer Protection Act, 2019:

    • Replaces the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
    • Introduces provisions for the establishment of authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumer disputes.
    • Includes various consumer rights like the right to information, right to be heard, and right to seek redressal.
    • Addresses challenges faced by consumers in the digital age, including e-commerce and online transactions.