P.K. Goswami, C.J.
1. This matter has come up before this Full Bench on a reference by me while sitting singly in disposing of the revision application.
2. The accused was convicted under Section 12 read with Section 3 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 (Act XXV of 1867) hereinafter called 'the Act' and fined Rs. 500/-, in default three months' simple imprisonment.
3. The prosecution case is that the accused-petitioner was distributing some pamphlets, which are marked Exts. III and V in this case, and which are printed in some press without the name of the Printer and Publisher and the place of Printing and Publication, as required under the provisions of Section 3 of the Act. When the matter came up in appeal, the learned Sessions Judge found on the evidence produced by the prosecution that the accused was distributing this printed pamphlet and this is not denied by the accused. In his statement under Section 342, Criminal Procedure Code, when his attention was drawn to the printed books (Exts. III and V) ho stated that he wrote a book bearing the name and title appearing on the cover page of the exhibited book, but he has not read these and cannot say whether the exhibited pamphlets were the ones which he had earlier written under the same name and title. In an identical case with reference to another printed document, the accused was convicted under Section 12 read with Section 3 of the Act, by a Division Bench of this Court after setting aside the acquittal order passed by the Magistrate, in Govt. Criminal Appeal No. 6 of 1964 disposed of on 8-6-66. In that revision, however, the Court was not called upon to decide the question of applicability of Section 12 read with Section 3 of the Act on the facts of that case. It is because of this reason that I referred this matter to be decided by a larger Bench by framing the question in this form:
Whether the accused, who is admittedly neither a printer nor a publisher connected with any press, is liable for conviction under Section 12 read with Section 3 of the Act on the facts of the case?
This is how this matter has come up before this Full Bench.
4. The Act was first made in the year 1867 and it repealed an earlier Act XI of 1835. This Act at the earliest stage was promulgated with the sole object of informing the ruling race, namely the Britishers who ruled us for quite a number of years, about the various writings and thoughts revealed in those writings in the various literatures of the country. Later on, however, this Act has undergone series of amendments and Section 3, as it reads now, is in the following terms:
3. Every book or paper printed within India shall have printed legibly on it the name of the printer and the place of printing and if the book or paper be published, the name of the publisher and the place of publication.
Section 12, which is the other material section, runs thus:
12. Whoever shall print or publish any book or paper otherwise than in conformity with the rule contained in Section 3 of this Act shall, on conviction before a Magistrate, be punished by fine not exceeding two thousand rupees or by simple imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or by both.
It is also interesting that although initially the sentence was Rs. 5,000/- and sentence of two years' imprisonment in default, the Legislature has thought it fit to reduce the sentence as noted above. The object of the Act is to prevent publication of anonymous literature and to take note of all the books and papers published in a legitimate way.
5. The short question that comes up before this Court for consideration is whether on the evidence adduced by the prosecution, namely, to the effect that the accused, who is admittedly the author of these writings and was in possession of the printed pamphlet with his name on the title page of the book and was found himself distributing the same in the market place at the town where the accused is said to have his address, within two months of the printing, the date whereof is 15-8-66 can be said to be publishing the pamphlet within the meaning of the word in Section 12 read with Section 3 of the Act. Section 3 requires that whenever a certain thing is printed the name of the printer and the place of printing shall be legibly mentioned. Secondly, if there is a publisher the name of the publisher and its place of publication must also be similarly legibly printed. If a printed book of the nature of these exhibits proved in this case, does not bear the printer's name and place of printing and the publisher's name and the place of publication, the book becomes an offender under Section 3. When the book becomes an offender, the next question to be considered is whether such a book when it is published by another person, that person is liable under Section 12 or not. Section 12 in terms does not refer to merely the press owner or the printer. It uses the words 'whoever shall print or publish'. Any person who prints or publishes a book in violation of the requirement mentioned in Section 3, is liable under Section 12.
G. Mr. Saikia, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, submits that there is no evidence in this case that the accused went to a printing press, got the thing printed or that he had anything to do with the printing as such. According to him, therefore, the accused cannot be convicted under Section 12 in absence of evidence of those particulars. We have examined the question very carefully and we are of the view that a mere distributor or a hawker of a printed literature not containing the name of the printer or the name of the publisher may not be liable under Section 12, but the author of a printed book who is a literate person and who admits that he has written the subject-matter which is dealt with in such printed pamphlet and whose name is mentioned in the title page of the book and further which he having obtained it passed it on to others, must be held to be publishing the particular printed literature of which he is the author, within the mischief of Section 12 of the Act. In the view we have taken on the evidence against the accused, he cannot be equated with a hawker or a mere distributor. On the evidence produced he must be held to have arranged the printing of these books of which he is undoubtedly the author and having himself circulated it to the public openly must be held to have published the books within the meaning of the expression 'publish' in Section 12 of the Act.
7. Mr. Saikia has also drawn our attention to a decision of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Abdul Hakim v. State, reported in : AIR1960All450 , where the learned Single Judge observed;
Section 12 of our Act (meaning this Act) does not punish the publication of a book not printed in conformity with the provision of Section 3.
With great respect, we cannot accept this wide proposition in absolute terms laid down in this decision. On the other hand, we are in respectful agreement with the observation of Ramaswami, J. in the case of G. Alavandar, reported in : AIR1957Mad427 :
But a man who causes a book to be printed and offers it to the public for sale is a publisher within the meaning of Section 3 and Section 12 of the Act.
While dealing with the Publishers and Printers, we find in Article 267 of Halsbury's Laws of England, Second Edition, Vol. 26:
A publisher is a person who puts forth a work to the public. In the case of literary works the publisher is an intermediary between the public and the author.
We are definitely of opinion that in this case the accused has put forth his own book to the public and this book being printed in clear violation of Section 3, he has published this offending book within the meaning of Section 12. When publishing it, it was his duty as well to see that the requirements of Section 3 had been complied with. A publisher also cannot avoid the responsibility cast under Section 3 of the Act with regard to his published book or paper. A publisher cannot escape liability under Section 12 by merely stating that he is not a person connected with the press or having anything to do with the actual printing. We, are, therefore, clearly of opinion that the accused has been rightly convicted under Section 12 of the Act for publishing the books and the above-mentioned Division Bench decision of this Court, on the basis of the finding in that case, is, with all respect, correct.
8. The revision petition is accordingly rejected.
M.C. Pathak, J.
9. I agree.
D.M. Sen, J.
10. I agree.