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THE PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF BOOKS ACT, 1867

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THE PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF BOOKS ACT, 1867
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Sunanda K. Chavan
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THE PRESS AND REGISTRATION OF BOOKS ACT, 1867 - October 29th, 2010

During the rein of the British Government in India writing of books and other informatory material took a concrete shape and with the advent of printing presses various books on almost all the subjects and periodicals touching every aspect of life started appearing.

Thrust on education gave an impetus to this with the result that lot of printed material became available. Those in the field of writing, publishing and printing gave a thought to organise a system for keeping a record of the publications. The then East India Company was urged to keep a record of the publications. An attempt was made by the authorities to make a collection of the books and other publications emanating from the various printing presses throughout India.

Board of Directors of East India company issued an instruction that copies of every important and interesting work published in India should be despatched to England to be deposited in the library of India House. Such an instruction had a slow impact. Again the Royal Asiatic Society in London urged the then Secretary of State for India to repeat the instruction of the late Board of Directors of East India Company and also desired that catalogues of all the works published in India should be sent to England. A system of voluntary registrations of publications was evolved but it failed.

It was found necessary to establish a system of compulsory sale to Government, of three copies of each work in India. To achieve this purpose a Bill was introduced in the Legislature for the regulation of printing presses and newspaper for the preservation of copies of books and periodicals containing news printed in the whole of India and for the registration of such books and periodicals containing news.

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
It has for many years been the endeavour of the authorities to make a collection of the books and other publications emanating from the various printing presses at work throughout the country.
It was an instruction of the late Court of Directors of the East India Company, that copies of every important and interesting work published should be despatched to England to be deposited in the library at the India House.

And again, on the urgent requisition of the Royal Asiatic society in London, the Secretary of State for India repeated the instructions of the late Court of Directors, and desired also that catalogues of all works published in India should be sent to England.

The above instructions had special reference to the province of Lower Bengal, and the local authorities of this province were set in motion, and on a plan suggested by Mr. Talboys Wheeler of the Home Office, and matured by Mr. Robinson, Bengali Translator to the Government of Bengal, a system of registration of books on terms advantageous to publishers was notified, and a catalogue of books published in the province of Lower Bengal was prepared.


But this catalogue had necessarily to be prepared by its editor, not with the books before him, but from such imperfect and scattered notices and advertisements of such books as he could collect from newspapers and other such sources, and was found therefore to be to a great extent, and essentially, incorrect, and the registration system completely broke down, there having been but three application for registration in the course of some nine months.

To send to England catalogues essentially and to a considerable extent incorrect, of or such books as can be routed out by private and perfunctory enquiries, is manifestly of no sort of use.
Yet the catalogue prepared in 1862, imperfect as it was, showed a list of some one thousand and five hundred books of more or less interest and importance, all published within the last ten or fifteen years, and it is notorious that, in the province of Lower Bengal at least, there has been of late years very great activity in the literary world, and every year shows no inconsiderable increase in the number of works, original or re-printed, published, and in the number of printing presses established.

The literature of a country is no doubt an index of the opinion and condition of the people, and such an index it is essential to good government that the rulers of a country should posses.
In the interest, too, of history and of the scholars of Europe, it is undoubtedly wise to provide that a complete collection of the publications of the press of this country should be made as well in this country as in England.

It cannot, too, but be of benefit to authors and publishers that catalogues of their works, and to a very limited extent copies of the works themselves, should be accessible to the public at certain well-known places.

Systems of voluntary registration of publications have been found to fail, and it is therefore proposed by this Bill to establish a system of compulsory sale to Government of three copies of each book or similar work printed in India.

One copy of the work will be sent to England, and the two others, after the book has been registered, will be kept in this country, to be deposited in places the proposed new Museum for instance where they will be carefully preserved.

A list of works registered will be published each quarter in the Official Gazette.
It is not quite clear that the provisions of the proposed Bill are as yet required in any province other than that of Lower Bengal, but in as much as the said provisions are reasonable and simple, and in as much as it is certain that with the spread of education there will arise in the other provinces of the Empire, as there has arisen in Bengal, a corresponding activity in literature, it is provided that the Bill may be extended by notification to any part of the Empire.
ACT 25 OF 1867

The Bill was passed by the Legislature and it came on the statute book as the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (25 of 1867). The nomenclature of the Act has been given by the Indian Short Titles Act, 1897 (14 of 1897).

LIST OF AMENDING ACTS AND ADAPTATION ORDERS
1. The Repealing Act, 1870 (14 of 1870).
2. The Press and Registration of Books Act (1867) Amendment Act, 1890 (10 of 1890).
3. The Amending Act, 1891 (12 of 1891)
4. The Indian Short Titles Act, 1897 (14 of 1897).
5. The Indian Copyright Act, 1914 (3 of 1914).
6. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1914 (10 of 1914)
7. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1915 (11 of 1915)
8. The Devolution Act, 1920 (38 of 1920)
9. The Press Law Repeal and Amendment Act, 1922 (14 of 1922)
10. The Repealing and amending Act, 1923 (11 of 1923)
11. The Government of India (Adaptation of Indian Laws )Order, 1937.
12. The Indian Independence (Adaptation of Central Acts and Ordinances) Order, 1948.
13. The Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950.
14. The Repealing and Amending Act, 1950 (35 of 1950)
15. The Part B States (Laws )Act, 1951 (3 of 1951)
16. The Press (Objectionable Matter) Act, 1951 (56 of 1951)
17. The Press and Registration of books (Amendment) Act, 1955 (55 of 1955)
18. The Press and Registration of books (Amendment) Act, 1960 (26 of 1960)
19. The Press and Registration of books (Amendment) Act, 1965 (16 of 1965)
20. The Press and Registration of books (Amendment) Act, 1968 (30 of 1968).
21. The Press Council Act, 1978 (37 of 1978).
22. The Delegated Legislation Provisions (Amendment) Act, 1983 (20 of 1983).
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