Vernacular Press Act: Vernacular Press Act 1878

Vernacular Press Act 1878

Government was becoming increasingly uneasy about the attitude of the Press generally and its relation wit h Government. It was particularly apprehensive of the Indian language press as preparations for the rebellion of 1857 were made with the use of seemingly harmless words and symbols. In 1878, the Vernacular Press Ac t was passed wit h a view to having better control over newspapers published in Indian languages, in spite of the representation made from all the Indian presses concerned. A deputation on behalf of the Indian Press Association wait ed upon the Viceroy under the leadership of Surendranath Banerjee, But it was all in vain. Th e gagging Act of 1857 was a much milder piece of legislation than the Press Act of 1878.

Vernacular Press Act Repealed

The Vernacular Press Ac t was repealed in December 1881 under the enlightened regime of Lord Ripon . ‘The Nationalist movement since 1883 gave an impetus to the development of the Press in India . As a matter of fact, it is very difficult- to distinguish the development of the Press and important events in this respect from the crucial events and developments of the Nationalist movement, A number of Press Laws and restrictions were enforced and placed on the statute book from time to time .

After the establishment of the Indian National Congress, there were sections 124A and 153A of the Penal Code enacted in 1898. There was also section 565 of the Indian Penal Code. Four new measures were enacted between 1908-191;, namely, the Newspapers (Incitement to Offences) Ac t of 1908, the Press Ac t of 1910, the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Ac t of 1911 and the Criminal Law Amendment Ac t of 1908. There was also” the Official Secrets A c t as amended in 1903.

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