Press Council Powers, Practice and Procedure
The Press Council of India was first set up in the year 1966 by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission with the object of preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of press in India. The present Council functions under the Press Council Act 1978. It is a statutory, quasi judicial body which acts as a watchdog of the press. It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.
The Press Council is headed by a Chairman, who has by convention, been a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. The Council consists of 28 other members of whom 20 represent the press and are nominated by the press organisations/news agencies recognised and notified by the Council as all India bodies of categories such as editors, working journalists and owners and managers of newspaper , 5 members are nominated from the two houses of Parliament and 3 represent cultural, literary and legal fields as nominees of the Sahitya Academy, University Grants Commission and the Bar Council of India. The members serve on the Council for a term of three years . The Council was last reconstituted on March 28, 1998.
The Council is funded by revenue collected by it as fee levied on the registered newspapers in the country on the basis of their circulation. No fee is levied on newspapers with circulation less than 5000 copies. The deficit is made good by way of grant by the Central Government.
If you have a complaint against a newspaper, for any publication which you find objectionable and effects you personally, or non-publication of a material, you should first take it up with the editor or other representative of the publication concerned.
If the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may refer it to the Press Council of India. The complaint must be specific and in writing and should be filed/lodged within two months of the publication of impugned news item in case of dailies and weeklies and four months in all other cases, along with the original/photostat copy of the impugned clipping ( English translation if the matter is in vernacular ). You must state in what manner the publication/non publication of the matter is objectionable within the meaning of the Press Council Act, 1978 and enclose a copy of your letter to the editor, pointing out why you consider the matter objectionable. His reply thereto or published rejoinder, if any, may also be attached to it. Declaration stating that the matter is not pending in any court of law is also required to be filed.
If a newspaper or journalist is aggrieved by any action of any authority that may impinge on the freedom of the press, he can also file a complaint with the Council. The aggrieved newspaper or journalist may inform the Council about the possible reason for the action of the authorities against him i.e. if it is as a reprisal measure taken by the authorities due to critical writings or as a result of the policy that may effect the freedom of the press ( supporting documents, with English translation if they are in vernacular, should be filed ). Declaration regarding the non pendency of the matter in any court of law is also necessary.
On receipt of a complaint made to it or otherwise, if the Council is prima facie satisfied that the matter discloses sufficient ground for inquiry, it issues show cause notice to the respondents and then considers the matter through its Inquiry Committee on the basis of written and oral evidence tendered before it. If on inquiry, the Council has reason to believe that the respondent newspaper has violated journalistic norms, the Council keeping in view the gravity of the misconduct committed by the newspaper, warns, admonishes or censures the newspaper or disapproves the conduct of the editor or the journalist as the case may be. It may also direct the respondent newspaper to publish the contradiction of the complainant or a gist of the Council’s decision in its forthcoming issue.
Similarly, when the Council upholds the complaint of the aggrieved newspaper/journalist the Council directs the concerned government to take appropriate steps to redress the grievance of the complainant. The Council may, if it considers necessary , make such observations, as it may think fit, in any of its decisions or reports, respecting the conduct of any authority, including Government.
Address your complaints or inquiries to :
Press Council of India, Fardikot House ( Gr Floor ),
Copernicus Marg, New Delhi-110001.
Phone : 91 (011) 3381569/3381575
Fax: 91 (011) 3386003
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org