Who Passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878? Why was it Passed?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

In 1878, Lord Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act to prevent newspapers from printing ‘seditious material’. The Act gave the government power to confiscate any newspapers that printed what was considered “seditious material”. The same year, Lord Lytton also passed the famous Arms Act of 1878, which prohibited Indian citizens from carrying arms or weapons without a license. The act was only applicable to Indians and not Englishmen.

Vernacular Press Act 1878

Lord Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878 to restrict vernacular newspapers from publishing any seditious material. The Act aimed to control the writings of Indians against the British policies and could excite dissatisfaction in the Indians against the British government.

According to the Vernacular Press Act, any magistrate or police commissioner had the power to order any printer or publisher of a newspaper to sign a bond promising not to publish a specific type of material and to seize any printed materials it deemed offensive.

  • The Act required that all proof sheets of a paper’s contents be submitted to the police before publication.
  • Thus, the Act allowed the British government to keep track of the vernacular newspapers writing against the Britishers and opposing their policies.
  • When a newspaper’s writing was considered “seditious”, the newspaper was first warned and had to face serious consequences the next time.


Who Passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878? Why was it Passed?

Lord Edward Robert Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, or Lord Lytton, who was the Viceroy of India from 1876 to 1880, passed the Vernacular Press Act of 1878. The Act gave the British government the authority to take action against vernacular newspapers that printed anything considered “seditious” by the British government.

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