What We Were

What We Were – A Brief History

The origin of this organization is inextricably linked to the rise of print media in India. The nationalist press played an unprecedented role in shaping public opinion and channelizing the energy of people in India’s struggle for independence. Moreover, the indispensable role of the print media in strengthening the pillars of democracy and nation-building was clearly felt in the immediate aftermath of independence. Therefore, the Government of free India set up the First Press Commission under the Chairmanship of Justice G.S. Rajadhyaksha in 1952 for the development and growth of press in the country. 

The Commissions had several prominent personalities and journalists as its members: Dr. C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar, Acharya Narendra Dev, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao, P.H. Patwardhan, T.N. Singh, Jaipal Singh, J. Natarajan, A.R. Bhat and Chalapati Rau. The commission was mandated to examine the state of the Press in India and to make recommendations for its all round development in long term perspective. The Commission recommended the appointment of a Registrar of Newspapers. Accepting the recommendation of the First Press Commission, the government amended the Press & Registration of Books Act, 1867 and the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) came into existence under Section 19(A) of the amended Act w.e.f.01.07.1956. 

Until 1956, there was no central authority for registration of periodicals in India. The Registration record was maintained by the respective District Magistrates at their offices. Since the establishment of the organization in 1956, the registration records of Newspapers and other periodicals printed in India are maintained by the Office of Registrar of Newspapers for India. 

An attached office of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, with headquarters at New Delhi, this office functioned at various places in Delhi before moving to its current location at Soochna Bhawan, Lodhi Road in 2018. Till 1977, there was also a Regional Office at Shimla, looking after certain functions related to registration of newspapers. In the 1990s, RNI established regional offices in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai under the VIIIth Five Year Plan. Two more offices were established in Bhopal and Guwahati under the IXth Five Year Plan. However, in 2016, as part of a consolidation exercise, all five regional offices of RNI were closed down and some of their functions have been transferred to the regional offices of Press Information Bureau in respective stations under the overall supervision and control of the Press Registrar.

However, with the enactment of the Press & Registration of Periodicals Act, 2023, and the consequent repealing of the Press and Registration of Books Act, with effect from 1st March, 2024, the office of RNI stands re-founded as the Office of Press Registrar General of India (PRGI).