Press Council of India

The Press Council of India (PCI) 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. Currently, it derives its mandate from Press Council Act, 1978.

Functions

It’s a statutory, quasi-judicial body acting as 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.

Composition

The 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 organizations/news agencies recognized and notified by the Council as all India bodies of categories such as editors, working joumalists and owners and managers of newspaper and news agencies, five members are nominated from the two Houses of Parliament and three represent cultural, literary and legal fields as nominees of the Sahitya Academy, University Grants Commission and the Bar Council of India.

The Council discharges its functions primarily through adjudications on complaint cases received by it, either against the Press for violation of journalistic ethics or by the Press for interference with its freedom. Where the Council is satisfied, after inquiry, that a newspaper or a news agency has offended against the standards of journalistic ethics or public taste or that an editor or working journalist has committed any professional misconduct, the Council may warn, admonish or censure them or disapprove of their conduct.

The Council is also empowered to make such observations as it may deem fit in respect of the conduct of any authority, including Government, for interfering with the freedom of the press. The decisions of the Council are final and cannot be questioned in any court of law.

The Council has been entrusted by the Parliament with the additional responsibility of functioning as Appellate Authority under the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 and the Appellate Board comprises of the Chairman of the Council and a member of the Council. The Board meets regularly and decides the Appeals placed before it.

The Council rendered its opinion on the references received from Law Commission regarding astrology advertisement. Election Commission of India also approached the Council for providing some concrete parameters to adjudge Paid News.

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