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

By Esha Dhawan|Updated : June 29th, 2022

In 1878, Lord Lytton, who was the viceroy of India from 1876 to 1880 passed the Vernacular Press Act. The Act gave the government power to confiscate any newspapers that printed what was considered “seditious material”. In the same year, Lord Lytton also passed the famous Arms Act of 1878 which prohibited the Indian citizens from carrying arms or weapons of any kind without a license. The act was only applicable to Indians and not Englishmen.


Lord Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878 to restrict vernacular newspapers from publishing any “seditious material”. 

Now the question is what was considered “seditious” under the Vernacular Press Act? The answer is simple! The Act aimed to control writings of Indians that were against the British policies and could excite feelings of dissatisfaction in the Indians against the British government.

Thus, the Act allowed the British government to keep track of the vernacular newspapers that were writing against the Britishers and opposing their policies. And 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?

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 that was considered “seditious” by the British government. 

This act was passed to curb the freedom of the press of Indian newspapers and was widely criticised by most Indian citizens. It gave the British government power to confiscate newspapers that openly criticised their policies and incited feelings of dissatisfaction against the British. 

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