Press Council of India
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Press Council of India – Indian Polity Notes

The Press Council of India is a statutory quasi-judicial autonomous authority re-established in the year 1979.  Under an Act of Parliament, Press Council Act, 1978 with the two fold objects of preserving the freedom of the press by maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and the news agencies in India. 

It was first set up in 1966 under the Indian Press Council Act, 1965, on the recommendations of the first Press Commission with the identical twin objects. The 1965 Act was, repealed in 1975 and the Press Council was abolished during emergency. Thereafter, a new Act was enacted on the similar lines as the Act of 1965 and the Press Council was re-established under it in the year 1979.


The Council consists of the Chairman and 28 members. 

The Chairman, by convention, is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India who is nominated by a Committee consisting of:

  • Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • Person elected amongst themselves by the 28 members of the Council. 

Other Members: Out of 28 members:

  • 2 Rajya Sabha Members
  • 3 Lok Sabha Members
  • 7 Working Journalists (other than editors of newspapers)
  • 6 Editors of Newspapers
  • 3 people with specialized knowledge on public life
  • 1 person who manages news agencies
  • 6 persons in the business of managing newspapers.

Term of Office:

Under section 6 of Act, Chairman and members of the council continues to hold office for tenure of 3 years.

Members including chairperson are eligible for reappointment.

Salaries of members including chairperson and conditions of office are determined by the Parliament.


Power to Censure under section 14 of Press Council of India Act 1978, this section pertains to, upon receipt of complaint, the council would provide the newspaper, news agency, editor, journalists an opportunity of being heard and hold inquiry as provided under this act. Decisions of council are final and shall not be questioned before court of law.

Under section 15 of Press Council of India Act 1978, 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 of India is responsible for enquiring into complaints received.
  • The council can summon witnesses and take evidence under oath, demand copies of public records to be submitted, even issue warnings and admonish the newspaper, news agency, editor or journalist.
  • Decisions of the PCI are final and cannot be appealed before a court of law.


As per section 13 of Press Council of India Act 1978, the functions of the council are:

  • Ensuring the newspapers can operate independently.
  • Maintaining the news quality.
  • Setting high professional standards by creating a journalistic code of conduct.
  • Giving training to new journalists
  • Encouraging growth of sense of responsibility and public service among all those engaged in profession of journalism.
  • Reviewing any development which is likely to restrict supply and dissemination of public interest and importance.
  • Press Council of India also works to boost the technical and other research areas related to the news.
  • Maintaining high professional standards in news agencies by building a code of conduct.
  • Reviewing such cases where assistance has been received by any newspaper or news agency in India from foreign sources.
  • Promoting such common service for supply and dissemination of news.
  • Providing proper functional relationship among all classes of persons engaged in production and publications of newspapers.
  • Doing such other acts as may be incidental or conducive to discharge above mentioned functions.

Complaint Procedure:

This is guided under Section 14 and 15 of PCI Act 1978.

  1. Report against any journalist, editor, newspaper can be filed by any individual in case there is breach of ethical standards of journalism.
  2. Upon receipt of such complaint, PCI provides opportunity to editor to deal with matter. If complainant is satisfied, matter ends here.
  3. If complainant is not satisfied is not satisfied, complaint in filed with all necessary details.
  4. The complaint needs to be filed in stipulated time.


Section 20 of Press Council Act 1978, require the Council to submit its report annually to the Central Government who shall table the report in both houses of the Parliament.


  1. The Council has limited power to enforce standard envisaged by it on print media. The electronic media like Television, Social Media(News) and Radio are outside purview of the council.  Council has been restricted to oversee out the print media.
  2. The council doesn’t have penalising powers in case any print media agency disobeys it’s directives/guidelines.

Way Forward:

The Press Council of India Act needs to be amended to provide more teeth of the council. Despite of having members form wide array of domains the councils have not been given adequate powers, the appropriate powers to make council future proof.

The electronic media which has percolated to all corners of the country shall be brought under effective control of the council instead of leaving them to the self regulation. 

For effective working of the Council it shall be given adequate penalising powers to take action against erring press houses or agencies.

To complete UPSC Polity Notes, Click Here

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