1. This is an appeal by the accused who has been convicted by the Addl. Dist. Mag., Krishna, for an offence under Section 124-A, I. P. C. & sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
2. The applt. was the editor, printer & publisher of a Telugu daily newspaper called 'Prajasakthi' printed at the Prajasakthi Press, Vijayawada. Under Section 4 of Act XXV  of 1867, the accused made the declaration before the Dist. Mag. as the manager of the press knownas Prajasakthi Press, Vijayawada. Exhibit P.-2 dated 29-3-1943 is the declaration. He continued to be the printer & publisher till he was arrested on 31-1-1948. He has since been in jail & even now is in jail. The article in question is said to have been published in the issue of the paper dated 9-4-1948 under the caption 'Capitalist Congress Government started country-wide military raids on people forces'. There is no doubt that what is contained in the article will fail within the scope of Section 124-A.
3. But the question is whether the accused who was in jail at the time of the publication o the article can still be convicted of the offence under Section 124-A merely because he did not write to the Dist. Mag. that he ceased to be the publisher & printer of the paper after his arrest on 31-1-1948. It has been held in Ramaswami v. Lokamada, 9 Mad. 387 that though a declaration was prima facie proof of publication by the editor, presumption raised can be rebutted. It was held that it would be a safe answer to the charge if the accused showed that he entrusted in good faith the temporary management of his paper to a competent person in his absence & the libel was published without his knowledge. In Harisarvothama Rao v. Emperor, 32 Mad. 338 : 2 I. C. 193, it was held that a person making a statutory declaration under Act XXV  of 1867 that he is the printer & publisher of the newspaper is presumably liable as such printer & publisher but he may rebut such a presumption. At p. 344 the learned Judges say :
'It would be open to the proprietor to rebut it & prove that the publication was, in fact, not authorised by him. Act XXV  of 1867 has nothing to do with the liability of the proprietor of the newspaper. It establishes the prima facie liability as publisher of the person who is declared the printer & publisher. In his case the prosecution need not give any evidence that he is, in fact, the publisher. It is enough to produce the declaration.....The proprietor's liability for the publication of the matter must be established to the satisfaction of the Ct. by direct proof or as a matter of reasonable inference from all the facts of the case.'
It is clear, therefore, from the observations in the decisions cited above that though the declaration may be prima facie evidence that he was the printer & publisher of the article, it is open to the accused to prove that he is not in fact the publisher & at the time it was published he could have had no hand in it. It is conceded by the Public Prosecutor that the accused was arrested on 31-1-1948 & on the day of the publication of the article, i.e., 9-4-1948, he had no control over the press. There is no evidence suggesting that he had any such control. He cannot, therefore, be held liable for the publication of the article on 9-4-1948 whenhe was inside jail. The conviction & sentence are, therefore, set aside & the applt. is acquitted of the offence.