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India
28 Jan 2017

'Republic' in breach of Indian laws

Is Arnab Goswami's 'Republic' headed towards legal trouble?

Arnab Goswami, former editor-in-chief of Times Now, has recently announced the launch of his news start-up 'Republic'.

The channel had been granted a license by Information and Broadcasting Ministry' (I&B).

However, recently BJP leader, Subramanian Swamy, wrote to I&B ministry alleging that use of 'Republic' was prohibited under extant laws and license must be revoked.

Let's take a closer look at this legal wrangle.

In context

Is Arnab Goswami's 'Republic' headed towards legal trouble?
What laws could 'Republic' breach?

Law

What laws could 'Republic' breach?

It has been alleged that use of 'Republic' is in direct contravention of 'Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. (The Act)

The Act prohibits use of certain emblems or names for professional and commercial purposes.

The term 'emblem' include emblem, official seal, flag, insignia or a pictorial representation as specially listed out in The Act's schedule.

Examples of names, emblems banned

Use of name, emblem and seal of UN and its sister organizations, WHO, World Meterological Organization, use of word 'Interpol', name and pictorial representation of Rashtrapati, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Raj Bhavan and several such organizations, is prohibited.

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Express mention

Is use of the term 'Republic' prohibited?

There is a schedule to The Act which lists out which names, official seals of organizations that are expressly prohibited from being used.

Item 6 of prohibits use of "Name, emblem or official seal of the President, Governor, Sadar-i-Riyasat or Republic or Union of India."

Use of these names are barred except under conditions prescribed by the Central Government.

Penalty and punishment

Any person who contravenes the provisions of The Act is punishable with a fine up to Rs.500 rupees. He can however not be prosecuted for such a violation unless previous permission has been availed from the Central Government.

What follows next?

Legal action

What follows next?

Currently an under-secretary level officer is investigating this matter.

Reportedly, Swamy had cautioned one of 'Republic' channel's investors to refrain from naming media venture 'Republic' as its use was banned, but his advice was ignored.

Swamy reiterated that if the ministry or Central government didn't take action against this blatant violation, the matter would be taken to court.

31 Jan 2017

After Swamy's intervention, Arnab changes channel name to 'Republic TV'

BJP Parliamentarian, Subramanian Swamy had raised his opinion against the name of Arnab Goswami's proposed news channel, 'Republic.'

Following this, Arnab wrote to an undersecretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, informing that the name of the news channel is being changed from 'Republic' to 'Republic TV.'

Goswami is the current managing director and editor-in-chief of newly launched ARG Outlier Media.

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