T.N.R. Tirumalpad, J.C.
1. In this revision petition, the petitioner who is the proprietor and keeper of a Printing Press, called the Azad Printing Works in Paona Bazar, Imphal, is challenging his conviction under Section 188, I.P.C. and under Section 12 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. He was sentenced by the S.D.M., I.W. to one month's S.I. under Section 188, I.P.C. and two months' S.I. and a fine of Rs. 100/- under Section 12 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. But the appellatel Court while maintaining the conviction reduced the sentences of imprisonment to the period already undergone and maintained the sentence of fine.
2. On 28.4.1960, a pamphlet Ext. A/1 was published in Imphal in the name of the Assembly Demand Co-ordination Committee, It showed that the name of the printer was mentioned by the initials 'A.P.W.' which stood for Azad Printing Works, Ext. A/1 contained the offending words 'Maneater Raina go back'. At that time the agitation demanding a Legislative Assembly was in full swing in Manipur, end the District Magistrate had issued the order Ext. A/13 under Section 144, Cri.P.C. on 25.4.1960 prohibiting any person from publishing, printing, selling or distributing any unauthorised or unsigned news, pamphlet or hand-bill. A search warrant was issued on 30.4.1960 and the original manuscript Ext. A/2 and some printed copies of the pamphlet Ext. A/1 were seized from the Azad Printing Works. It will be seen from the original manuscript that it was signed by one Th. Bira Singh for the Assembly Demand Co-Ordination Committee, but in the printed pamphlet, the name was omitted and merely 'Assembly Demand Co-Ordination Committee' was mentioned.
3. The petitioner was then charged as the keeper of the Printing Works under Section 188, I.P.C. for violation of the order under Section 144, Cri.P.C. and under Sections 12 and 13 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, for violation of the rules under Sections 3 and 4 of the said Act on the complaint of the District Magistrate. He was examined in the Magistrate's Court on 5.8.1960 before the regular trial started, He stated then that Ext. A/1 was printed in his Azad Printing Works on receipt of the manuscript with, a forwarding letter from the Secretary, Co-ordination Committee of the Agitation and that the name of the press was printed but not the location of the Press. This forwarding letter was not produced by him at the trial. In the subsequent statement dated 16.8.1960 after the prosecution evidence was let in, he further added, that most of the private Presses in Manipur do not follow the rules required under the Press and Regulation of Books Act strictly and published material without giving the particulars.
4. To prove this he also produced some defence exhibits which I find were not given any marking as exhibits by the Magistrate. It is enough, to say that out of such defence exhibits, two were pamphlets issued by Gopendra Sarma, Publicity Officer, Manipur Administration, mid lour were Press notes issued in the name of the Publicity Branch of the Manipur Administration, in none of which the name of the printer and the place of printing were mentioned. Only the initials 'G.P.M.' were given, below, just like the initials 'A.P.W.' in Ext. A/1. The name of the publisher was not mentioned in any, one of them. These were produced by the defence to show that even the Manipur Administration did not observe the provisions of Section 3 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867 by giving the names of the printer and publisher and the place of printing' in the pamphlets and press notes issued by the Publicity Department and so the omission on the part of the petitioner cannot be seriously regarded as an offence. Certain other printed matter published by private people in Manipur were also-produced for the defence which also did not contain the name of the printer and publisher and the place of printing.
5. We are not now concerned with the offence under Section 13 of the P. and R. of Books Act, as he was acquitted under that section by the Magistrate. We are however concerned with the conviction under Section 12 for violation of Section 3 of the Act. Section 3 of the Act is as follows:
Every book or paper printed within British 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.
What was argued for the petitioner was that the Act does not contain a definition of 'printer', but only of 'printing', that Section 3 of the Act directs the name of the printer and the place of printing: to be printed and Section 12 of the Act makes the printing otherwise than in conformity with the rule contained in Section 3 an offence, that in the absence of any definition of the word 'printer', the proprietor or keeper of a printing works where the printing took place cannot be held guilty of violation of Section 3. It was argued that at best only the actual workman in the press who set the type and printed the pamphlet will be liable in the absence of a definition of the word 'printer'. My attention was also drawn to the definition of 'printing' in Section 1 of the Act as including cyclostyling and printing by lithography and from this it was argued that the person who set the type alone can be made liable under Section 12 of the Act.
6. I am not prepared to accept this argument. It would have been better, no doubt, if 'printer' had been defined under the Act. But even, without that definition what is provided in Section 3 is that every printed book or paper shall have printed legibly on it the name of the printer and the place of printing. Thus, it is the primary duty of the keeper or proprietor of a Press where such book or paper is printed to see that the name of the printer and the place of printing are printed on it. The liability for not printing the same cannot be that of the workman who does the actual printing by setting the type. It is a statutory duty. Where the statute enforces a duty in such words as to make the duty absolute, the master is liable for the criminal act of omission or commission by the servant even if the act was done without the master's knowledge. Section 12 of the Act does not require even proof of mens rea as pointed in the decision of Kadar Sultan v. Emperor AIR 1933 Rang 4(1). It was held in that decision that the mere fact of printing the book or paper otherwise than in accordance with Section 3 of the Act was an offence, and undoubtedly this offence could be committed by a man when the act itself was done not by him personally but by his servant and that No. intention was necessary under Section 12. The decisions Emperor versus Shankar Shrikrishna Dev ILR 35 Bom 55, and G. Harisarvothama Rao v. Emperor ILR 32 Mad 338, which were relied upon by the petitioner dealt with cases under Section 124A I.P.C. where intention has got to be proved and hence they will not he applicable to the case before us.
7. It was not the defence of the petitioner that he was not aware of the printing of the pamphlet Ext. A/1, He admitted that the manuscript Ext. A/2 was sent with a covering letter for the purpose of printing and that it was printed in his press. Thus, the printing was done with his full knowledge and therefore it was his duty to see that it was, in conformity with the provisions in Section 3. Thus if Section 3 has been violated in printing Ext. A/1, the petitioner is dearly liable.
8. What we have got to see therefore is whether there has been violation of Section 3. The petitioner himself admitted that the place of printing wag not printed in the pamphlet. He would say that the name of the printer has been printed as Azad Printing Works. What I find from Ext. A/1 is that the initials namely, A.P.W. of the Azad Printing Works have been printed. Printing the initials is not sufficient when the section directs the printing of the name. The intention is that the printed matter must show who printed it and at what place. They are absent in Ext. A/1. So, there has been violation of Section 3.
9. In extenuation, it was pointed out that even the Manipur Administration has not given the name of the printer and the place of printing in the Press Notes and pamphlets issued by them and that it was never the practice of any person in Manipur to give all the details required under Section 3. Perhaps, the Administration would not have proceeded against the petitioner, but for the fact that this particular pamphlet - Ext. A/1 was printed during the agitation. Since, this appears to be the first case of its kind and since the rules under Section 3 had not been strictly enforced in Manipur till this prosecution and since the initials of the Printing Works were given in the pamphlet as is the practice in Manipur even of the Administration and the omission is only in respect of the place of printing, there cannot be any harsh sentence on the petitioner. As the petitioner has already undergone a period of sentence in prison, it must be considered sufficient and it is not necessary to give any fine in addition. The sentence under Section 12 of the Act is, therefore, modified and the sentence of fine is set aside.
10. Coming to the conviction under Section 188, I.P.C. it was not seriously argued before me that the pamphlet containing the words 'maneater Raina go back' did not cause or tend to cause annoyance to persons lawfully employed. Mr. Raina is the Chief Commissioner of Manipur. To characterise him as a maneater will certainly cause annoyance not only to him, but also to the employees of the Administration working under him and to other law abiding citizens. What was argued was that Ext. A/13, the order under Section 144 prohibited printing of unauthorised or unsigned news, pamphlet or hand-bill and that this particular pamphlet Ext. A/1 was signed by the Assembly Demand Co-ordination Committee and that it was not unauthorised and so it will not amount to a violation of the order under Section 144. It was also argued that the petitioner as the keeper of the Press cannot be charged for the printing. I have already dealt with the latter argument in dealing with Section 3 of the P. and R. of Books Act. As for the other argument, it is enough to say that the signature Assembly Demand Co-ordination Committee under the pamphlet will not make it a signed pamphlet. I have already pointed out earlier that the name Th. Bira Singh, which is seen in the original manuscript Ext. A/2 was deliberately omitted in printing the pamphlet in order to make it an unsigned pamphlet. It is unnecessary therefore to consider whether it was also an unauthorised pamphlet except to say that the very omission, of the signature would make it unauthorised, I see therefore no reason to interfere, with the conviction and sentence under Section 188, I.P.C.
11. In the result therefore the revision petition is dismissed except to the extent that the sentence of fine imposed under Section 12, of the P. and R. of Books Act is set aside.