Media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, it is the eyes and ears
of this society and ideally perform the function of a moral watchdog of the
public interests. Correspondingly, proving to be the interpreter between the
public and different organs of our government.
For the proper functioning of
this organ, it has to be independent and should be able to withstand the outside
pressure and influence i.e., political parties and various other powerful
organizations. Here comes into play the press council of India with the object
of preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the
standards of press in India.
It is the autonomous, statutory quasi-judicial body
which was first constituted on 4th July, 1966 and started functioning from
November 16 of the same year (resulting in celebration of National Press Day on
this date) by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press
Commission under the chairmanship of Justice J.R Mudholkar (then a Judge of
Composition of the Press Council of India
The 1965 Act provided for 25 members in the council which was changed to 28
members as per the act of 1978. The term of the Chairman and the members of the
Council is 3 years.
Accordingly, it is a 28 member committee with the Chairman.
Functions of the press council of India
The main functions of the Press Council of India as per the objectives of the
Press Council Act, 1965, are as follows:
- Helping newspapers in maintaining their independence;
- Building up a code of conduct for journalists and newspapers according
to the high professional standards;
- Ensuring that the newspapers and journalists maintain high standards of
public taste and foster a due sense of both the rights and responsibilities
- Encouraging the growth of a sense of responsibility and public service
among all those engaged in the profession of journalism
- Reviewing any development which is likely to restrict the supply and
dissemination of news of public interest and importance;
- Reviewing such cases where assistance has been received by any newspaper
or news agency in India from foreign sources, as are referred to it by the
- Promoting the establishment of such common service for the supply and
dissemination of news to newspapers as may, from time to time, appear to it
to be desirable;
- Providing facilities for the proper education and training of persons in
the profession of journalism;
- Promoting the proper functional relationship among all classes of
persons engaged in the production or publication of newspapers;
- Studying developments that may lead towards monopoly or concentration of
ownership of newspapers, including a study of the ownership or financial
structure of newspapers, and if necessary, to suggest remedies.
- Promoting technical or other research.
- Doing such other acts as may be incidental or conducive to the discharge
of the above functions.
Hence, the main function of the Press Council of India is to check the media
practice and to keep an eye on freedom of the press.
Powers of the Press Council of India
Powers of the Press Council is given in section 14 and 15 of the Press Council
Act, 1965. Powers to censure are given in section 14 and some general powers are
described in section15.
Power to censure : Section 14
This section provides that if a complaint is made to the council, the council
would give the newspaper, news agency, editor or journalist concerned an
opportunity of being heard and hold an inquiry as provided under the regulations
of this act. The council would not entertain a complaint if in the opinion of
Chairman there is no sufficient ground for holding an inquiry. But this section
does not empower the council to hold an inquiry into any matter in respect of
which any proceeding is pending in the court of law. The decision of the council
shall be final and shall not be questioned in any court of law.
General powers of the Council: Section 15
This section provides that for performing its function or for the purpose of
inquiry, the council shall have the same powers throughout India as are vested
in a Civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
But, this cannot compel any newspaper, news agency, editor or journalist to
reveal the source of any news or information published. Furthermore, every
inquiry held by the council shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding under
sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code.
Press Council of India Complaint Procedure
- U/S 14 of PCI: Complaint against newspaper, editor or journalist:
- A complaint with the Press Council can be filed by any person, if there
is a breach of the recognized ethical standards of journalism by the
publication or non-publication of a news-statement or article, cartoon,
advertisement, etc which is published in a newspaper.
- The complainant firstly has to write to the editor of the newspaper
drawing his attention towards what the complainant finds objectionable. This
gives the editor the opportunity to deal with the matter and take the
necessary steps as in many cases the facts are usually misinterpreted by the
complainant, or there is an error which the editor is ready to admit and
- If the Complainant is satisfied the matter ends here, but if he is not
satisfied then he can take further steps which is to refer to the Press
- The complaint should contain the name and address of the editor,
journalist or newspaper against whom the complaint has been drawn along with
this he has to state in what manner the particular news-article, statement,
cartoon, advertisement, etc is objectionable within the meaning of Press
Council Act,1978 and has to provide all the relevant particulars (copies of correspondence with
the editor and a declaration that no proceedings are pending in any court of
- As per the Press Council (Procedure for Inquiry) Regulations, 1979, the
complaint has to be filed within two months in the case of dailies, news
agencies, and weeklies. In all the other cases it has to be filed within