The information and broadcasting ministry has taken the view that the printing of the International Herald Tribune in India violates the existing norms regarding the print media. It also thinks that the government has a strong case to ask the printers to stop publication of the newspaper.
"This is a complete violation of the norms. Besides, the government was taken by surprise. The paper has kept us in the dark about this development. We are looking into it," said a senior representative of the information and broadcasting ministry.
The government is all set to serve a notice on the publishers of the International Herald Tribune as well as the Indian printers of the paper.
The notice, according to the government representative, will point out the illegality of the manner in which the paper is being brought out.
An executive of Midram Publications, which is bringing out the edition of the International Herald Tribune from Hyderabad, told Business Standard that they had not violated any norm.
"If we are taken to court, we will defend ourselves and take the stand that people have the right to information," he said.
According to the notice being prepared by the information and broadcasting ministry, the publishing of the International Herald Tribune in India is in violation of the 1956 Cabinet resolution that prohibits the printing and publishing of an Indian edition of an international newspaper in India.
"We are of the view that the paper printed in India is a copy of the international paper and it is in violation of the norms existing in the country," the information and broadcasting ministry representative said.
Besides, the government is expected to point out that the International Herald Tribune, too, is violating content syndication norms. "The norms regarding syndication limit syndicated content to 7.5 per cent of the total content. In this case, this is also violated," said the representative.
The government representative also pointed out that the Indian version had copied the masthead of the international editions of the International Herald Tribune and was sourcing content from the international paper without any restriction.
When asked about the content, the Midram executive said an editorial team was being put together to bring out the edition. The paper at present has articles and reports from the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times and news agencies.
Unlike other editions of the International Herald Tribune, the masthead of the Hyderabad paper does not indicate the city where it is edited.
Government sources said the information and broadcasting ministry was likely to institute an inquiry into the role of the Registrar of Newspapers of India in this instance.
"An internal inquiry will be done to ascertain the position of the RNI. The government was kept in the dark on this issue," said the representative.