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Public Prosecutor, Andhra Pradesh Vs. T. Amrath Rao and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication;Criminal
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 441 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1960AP176; 1960CriLJ452
ActsPress and Registration of Books Act, 1867 - Sections 1, 3 and 21; Press and Registration of Books (Amendment) Act, 1955; General Clauses Act, 1897 - Sections 3(18)
AppellantPublic Prosecutor, Andhra Pradesh
RespondentT. Amrath Rao and ors.
Appellant AdvocateG. Krishna Reddy, Adv. for ;R.V. Rama Rao, Public Prosecutor
Respondent AdvocateV.V. Siva Rao, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....as statements and discussions in the legislature at the time of the introduction of a measure are concerned, they do not control the meaning of the words in a statute. it is also his duty to see that the book or paper complies with section 3 and to refrain from publishing it if the requirements are not satisfied......should be adopted which would harmonise with the object of the statute. a publisher of a book or paper printed within british india arranges with the printer to produce it at the printing press. in regulating the printing presses, it is certainly natural for the legislature to say that a publisher must see that the book or paper produced by the printer complies with certain requirements as to printing. therefore thecontention that the duty of the publisher is merelyto give his name and place of publication for being, printed cannot prevail. it is also his duty to see that the book or paper complies with section 3 and to refrain from publishing it if the requirements are not satisfied.10. in the result, the appeal is allowed as regards the 1st respondent and dismissed as regards.....
Judgment:

Krishna Rao, J.

1. This is an appeal by the Public

Prosecutor against the acquittal of the three respondents upon a charge under Section 12 of the Press and Registration of Books Act XXV of 1867 (hereinafter called 'the Act'). The prosecution case is that the respondents published at Hyderabad printed Telugu leaflets, one of which has been marked as Ex. P-l, without the names of the printer and of the publisher and the place of printing and of publication being printed on them. The leaflets were printed at the Pearl Press, Secunderabad. The evidence of P. W. 1, the proprietor of the press is that on or about 27-12-1957, the 1st respondent gave him the order to print them and that on 31-12-1957, the 1st respondent took delivery of 500 out of 1000 copies that were printed. The matter printed in the leaflets may be shortly described as an appeal to police men to support the Andhra Pradesh. Police Employees' Association. Below this matter, the names and other particulars of the respondents are found printed thus:

T. Amrutrao, President.Camp: Hyderabad ) K, Jacob, Chief SecretaryD/- 30-12-1957. Bandreddi Veerayya, KattaTatayya, Members.

The respondents are Amrutrao, Jacob and Veerayya respectively. The 1st respondent admitted in his statement that he got the 'pamphlets' published, but pleaded that he had nothing to do with the printer's address being shown on them and that the addresses of the respondents were given on them. Respondents 2 and 3 pleaded that they were not responsible for the absence of the publisher's name on the pamphlets.

2. The City Magistrate of Hyderabad who tried the case, observed in his judgment that the prosecution ought to have been launched in the Secunderabad Court. But it is conceded that no point of Jurisdiction arises. There is also no dispute that the name of the printer and the place of printing have been altogether omitted to be minted on the leaflets. The Magistrate's grounds for acquitting the respondents are (1) that the names of the respondents who are the publishers and the place of publication by them are actually printed on the pamphlets and there is sufficient compliance with the latter part of Section 3 and (2) that as regards the first part of Section 3, the obligation to print thename of the printer and the place of printing is On the printer done and not on the publisher and therefore none of the respondents is liable for this omission. Both these grounds are assailed in the appeal, as being founded on an erroneous construction of Sections. 3 and 12 of the Act.

3. Sections 3 and 12 of the Act are in the following terms:

'3. Every book or paper minted 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.

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 Rs. 2000/- or by simple imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or by both.'

4. Sri V. V. Siva Rao, the learned counsel for the 1st respondent, contends that Ex. P-l, which id a single sheet with four pages in octavo size, is neither a pamphlet coming within the definition of 'book' in Section 1 of the Act, nor a 'paper' coming within the intendment of the Act. But by the Amendment Act 55 of 1955, a definition of the word 'paper' has been newly inserted in Section 1. The definition is

' 'paper' means any document including a news-paper, other than a book.'

The word document has been defined in Section 3(18) of the General Clauses Act X of 1897 thus:

'document shall include any matter written, expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means which is intended to be used, or which may be used, for the purpose of recording that matter.'

It is unnecessary to refer to the definition of 'writing' in Section 3(58). 'To record means to set down in some permanent form. Any decipherable information which is set down in a lasting form would be a 'document' and if it is printed within British India, it is hit by Section 3 of the Act. Hence there can be no question that Ex. P-l is a 'paper'' which has to conform to the rule in Section 3 of the Act. It is no longer open to say that the word 'paper' in Section 3 is synonymous with 'newspaper', as was held in Rameshwar v. Emperor, AIR 1931 Pat 351 (2), followed in Dattatraya Malhar v. Emperor, AIR 1937 Bom 28 and Manohar Lal v. Emperor, AIR 1943 Lah 1; or must contain matter which is of literary or historical or cultural value as was held in State v. Udit Narain, (S) : AIR1955All524 . It is true that as pointed out by Beaumont, C. J., in AIR 1937 Bom 28, every printed invitation to a dinner or to a party of any sort and even every printed visiting card would now be a 'paper' which if printed in this country has to conform to Section 3 of the Act. The resulting general inconvenience is a matter calling for remedial action under Section 21. which empowers the State Government to exclude any class of books and papers from the operation of the Act.

5. The question whether the names of the respondents printed at the end of Ex. P-l, taken along with the heading at the beginning 'Andhra Pradesh Police Employees' Association' which is followed by the address of the Association at Guntur, would comply with the requirements of Section 3, is covered by a decision of the Madras High Court in Queen Empress v. Hari Shenoy, ILR 16 Mad 443 at PP. 445. 447 given as long ago as in 1893. There the question was whether a newspaper bearing the words 'printed and published at Cochin for the Malabar Economic Company at the companysGoshree Vilasam Press' satisfied the rule containedin Section 3 of the Act. It was held that the requirements of the section were not satisfied, CollinsC. J. said:

'It appears to me that Section 3 is intended to inform the public who are the responsible printers and publishers of newspapers, and if the plain words of the section are to be departed from, the printers and publishers of newspapers might, under an assumed name or by using the name of an unregistered company, effectually prevent their identity from being established, and that was the evil the section is intended to prevent.'

Muthuswamy Ayyar, J.. observed:

'It is urged that the object was to provide to the public facilities towards the discovery of the responsible printer and that any person might easily discover who the printer was on reference to the Economic Society. The intention was not simply to provide some facility or other, but to provide a spcific facility on the face of the paper. It is possible that a person may not be able without considerable inconvenience to discover who the members of the Economic Society are, and that some member may refuse to give or evade giving information regarding the responsible printer.'

The same view was taken by the Punjab Chief Court in Emperor v. Bhawani Das, 2 Ind Cas 978, where Reid, Chief Judge interpreting the rule in Section 3 said:

'The object of the rule obviously is that the paper should clearly intimate who is liable as printer and who is liable as publisher.'

The paper must ex facie communicate the information to the public as to who is responsible as the printer and the publisher. Ex. P-l merely discloses the names of the four persons that issued the appeal to the police men on behalf of the Association and their 'camp' from which they issued the appeal. They may be the publishers or merely the authors of the appeal. It follows that the requirements of Section 3 are not complied with even as regards the name of the publisher and the place of publication.

6. The meaning of the word 'Publisher' is also covered by authority. In Queen Empress v. Bauka Patni, ILR 23 Cal 414, it was held by a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court that the word 'publisher' has been used in the Act in a restricted sense and does not include book-sellers who merely sell a book or paper in the exercise of their profession. In AIR 1937 Bom 28 and Beaumont, C. J. observed:

'It is quite clear that the publisher of the paper referred to in Section 3 and Section 5 is the man who publishes it in the ordinary sense of the term, that is to say, arranges with the proprietor for its distribution, and mere seller or distributor of the paper is not a publisher under either of those sections.'

The publisher is a person who both arranges with I the printer for a book or paper to be produced and causes it to be offered to the public.

7. In the present case, the evidence is that the 1st respondent alone gave the order for printing and that respondents 2 and 3 merely took part in distributing the printed copies of Ex. P-l. It follows that only the 1st respondent and not respondents 2 and 3 can be held to have published copies of Ex. P.I and to be liable under Section 12 of the Act.

8. Sri V. V, Siva Rao maintains that the language of Section 3 divides the obligations thereunder into two parts, that the printer alone is responsible for seeing that the name of the printer and place of printing are shown in a book or paper and that the publisher is responsible only for showingthe name of the publisher and the place of publication therein. He relied on the position in the section of the clause 'and if the book or paper is published.' But I am unable to see how it assists the learned counsel's construction. On the other hand, it may in certain circumstances avail the printer, but not the publisher. If the printer is under a mistaken impression that the book or paper would not be published and therefore prints only his own name and the place of printing, the defence would be open to him that on account of his mistake of fact, he did not print the name of the publisher and the place of publication. But the publisher is ordinarily the person who knows that the hook or paper will be published. So far as he is concerned, the section lays upon him the duty to see that not only the name of the printer and the place of printing but also the name of the publisher and the place of publication are printed on the paper.

9. Sri V. V. Siva Rao contends that the main object of the Act is the regulation of the printing presses and that the provisions of the Act ought to be construed in the light of that object. He relies for this purpose on the long title of the Act which, as amended by Act 55 of 1955, reads:

'An Act for the regulation of printing presses and newspapers, for the preservation of copies of books and newspapers printed in British India and for the registration of such books and newspapers.' He also relies on the preamble which reads; 'Whereas it is expedient for the regulation of printing presses and periodicals containing news, for the preservation of copies of every book and newspapers printed in India and for the regulation of such books and newspapers.'

But Section 12 in clear terms makes the publisher liable for the penalties thereunder. The question is whether the word 'publisher' has to he understood in a special sense, because the main purpose of the Act is to regulate printing presses. It is well settled that so far as statements and discussions in the Legislature at the time of the introduction of a measure are concerned, they do not control the meaning of the words in a statute. In Krishna Ayyangar v. Nallanerumal Pillai, ILR 49 Mad 550 at p. 565 AIR 1920 PC 56 at p. 59 Viscount Finlay observed

'No statement made on the introduction of the measure or its discussion can be looked at as affording any guidance as to the meaning of the words'. In Aswini Kurnar v. Arahinda Bosc. ATR 1952 SC 369, Mukherjee, J. (as he then was) said: 'It is one of the settled rules of construction that to ascertain the legislative intent all the constituent parts of a statute are to be taken together and each word, phrase or sentence is to be considered in the light of the general purpose and object of the Act itself.'

Das T. (as he then was) observed:

'It is now settled law that the title of a statute is an important part of the Act and may be referred to for the purpose of ascertaining its general scope and of throwing light on its construction although it cannot override the clear meaning of the enactment.'

If a word used in a statute is of a doubtful or ambiguous meaning that meaning should be adopted which would harmonise with the object of the statute. A publisher of a book or paper printed within British India arranges with the printer to produce it at the printing press. In regulating the printing presses, it is certainly natural for the legislature to say that a publisher must see that the book or paper produced by the printer complies with certain requirements as to printing. Therefore thecontention that the duty of the publisher is merelyto give his name and place of publication for being, printed cannot prevail. It is also his duty to see that the book or paper complies with Section 3 and to refrain from publishing it if the requirements are not satisfied.

10. In the result, the appeal is allowed as regards the 1st respondent and dismissed as regards respondents 2 and 3. The 1st respondent is found guilty and convicted under Section 12 of the Act. With regard to punishment, it is conceded that the offence is a technical one. It is not as if the 1st respondent wanted to make a secret of his connection with Ex. P-l and of his responsibility for publishing it. Sri V. V. Siva Rao states, without contradiction, that the 1st respondent is a political worker with no means. In the circumstances, I sentence him to pay a fine of Rs. 10/- (Rupees ten only) and in default to undergo simple imprisonment for two weeks. Three weeks' time is granted for payment of the fine.


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