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State of Mysore v. Yamanappa Siddappa Arabhavi

State of Mysore
Yamanappa Siddappa Arabhavi

(High Court Of Karnataka)

Criminal Referred Case No. 9 Of 1973 | 02-11-1973

(1) IN this case the First Addl. Sessions Judge, Belgaum, has made a reference under S. 438 Crlpc to set aside the order passed by the Judicial magistrate, First class, Gokak, dt. 22-11-971 in CC. No. 1954|71, by which the Magistrate on the complaint of one Yamanappa Siddappa Arabhavi, president, Gokak Girani Rashtriya Mazadoor Sangh, against the accused who was the General Manager of the Gokak Mills Ltd. Gokak, took cognizance of the offence under Ss. 3 and 4, punishable under Ss. 12 and 13 of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867, (Act XXV of 1867) hereinafter referred to as the Act' and issued process against the accused.

(2) THE case of the complainant was that the Gokak Mills owned a printing press. The accused being the General Manager of the Mills was in charge and control of the press. Pamphlets were printed and distributed without bearing the name of the printer and publisher, place of printing and publication. The accused had not made any declaration before the district Magistrate as required under S. 4 of the Act.

(3) THE only question raised by this revision is whether the complainant as a common informer is entitled to complain against the accused for taking action under Sections 12 and 13 of the Act.

(4) IT was argued by Mr, B. V. Desihpande, the learned Counsel for the accused that no man can complain for that in which he has no interest; and a common man can. have no interest in an action of this nature unless it is expressly or by some sufficient implication given to him by the statute. The State and the State alone ia charged generally with the execution and enforcement of penal laws enacted by public statutes for the public good and is interested in all penalties imposed by such statutes and therefore may complain for them in due course of law where no provision is made to the contrary. According to him, the complaint, if at all, should have been made by the District Magistrate. In support of this contention, he relied on the decision in Charles Bradlaugh v. Henry Lewis clarke (1882-83) 8 AC. 354. . In that case the question for decision was whether a common informer could sue for the penalties imposed by statute 29 and 30 Vict. c. 19 upon a member of 'the House of Commons sitting and voting in that house without having taken the oath prescribed by that Act. The words of the material clause (Sect. 5) were these : if any member of the House of Peers votes, by himself or his proxy, in the House of Peers, or sits as a Peer during any debate in the said House, without having made and subscribed the oath hereby appointed, he shall for every such offence be subject to a penalty of 500 to be recovered by action in one of Her Majesty's superior courts at Westminster; and if any member of the House of Commons votes as such in the said House, or sits during any debate after the speaker has been chosen without having made and subscribed the oath hereby appointed, he shall be subject to a like penalty for every such offeree and, in addition to such penalty, his seat shall be vacated in the same manner as if he were dead". Dealing with this question their Lordships of the Privy Council said : where a penalty is created by statute and nothing is said as to who may recover it and it is not created for the benefit of a party grieved, and the offence is not against an individual it belongs to the crown, and the Crown alone can maintain a suit for it. To enable a common informer to maintain an action for a penalty created by statute, an interest in the penalty must be given to him by express words or by sufficient implication. On the principle that no man can sue for that in which he has no interest and a common informer can have no interest in a penalty of the nature mentioned in the section stated above, their Lordships of the Privy Council held that the common informer could not sue to recover the penalty imposed by the said section. The principle laid down in this case hap no application as the facts of the instant case are totally different and are governed by the provisions of the Act.

(5) ALL statutes are to be construed by the Courts so as to give effect to the intention which is expressed by the words used in the statute. But that is not to be discovered by considering those words in the abstract, but by inquiring what is the intention expressed by those words used in a statute with reference to the subject matter and for the object with which that statute was made; it being a question to be determined by the Court, and a very important one, what was the object for which it appears that the statute was made. S. 3 of the Act provides that 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. S. 4 of the Act provides that no person shall, within India, keep in his possession any press for the printing of books or paperg, who shall not have made and subscribed the prescribed declaration before the District, Presidency or Sub-Divisional magistrate within whose local jurisdiction such press may be.

(6) IT is clear from the language that the intention of S. 3 requiring that the name of the printer and the place of printing and the name of the publisher and the place of publication should be printed legibly on every book or paper is to inform the public who the responsible printer or publisher is and to convey that information on the face of the paper. The object of the section seems to be that members of the public who might be slanderously or defamatorily attacked can always resort to Courts for their remedies against the publication of such slanderous and defamatory matter. This would not be possible if the printers and publishers are able to shroud themselves in a cloak of anonymity and carry on their nefarious cloak and dagger business without any possibility of their being successfully discovered. Printers and publishers cannot be allowed to select for themselves the description to be used in professing to comply with the provisions of the Act but they must use the descriptions prescribed by the act. (In re G. Alavandar AIR. 1957 Mad. 427. S. 4 of the Act says that every keeper of a printing press shall make a statutory declaration before a competent magistrate. S. 4 appears to have double motive. The first is that the executive authorities shall note where the press is situated and the second is that they shall know who is the person in charge. The object of the section is also to give notice to the public that a particular person is keeping the press, so that action may be taken against him for contravening the provisions of the Act not only by the authorities concerned, but also by public when an offence is committed.

(7) MR. Subba Rao, the learned Counsel for the complainant cited the decision in Re Ganesh Narayan Same. (1889) 13 ILR. Bom. 600. In that case a complaint was lodged in the District Magistrate's Court at Poona by one Ganesh sathe against certain subordinate officials who had given evidence in the case of Empress v. Hanmantrao and the complaint was grounded on the evidence given by them. The offence complained was against public interest. In that case it was pointed out that as a general rule, any person having knowledge of the commission of an offence, may set the law in motion, by a complaint, even though he is not personally interested or affected by the offence. The exceptions to this rule, of which Ss. 195 and 198 Crlpc are examples are exceptions created by statute. There is nothing in the code showing an intention to confine prosecutions to the persons directly injured.

(8) IN Rex v. Kennedy (1902) 86 LTR. 753. while considering S. 34 of the Roman catholic Relief Act, 1c29, it was held that there was nothing in that Act to prevent private persons from commencing prosecutions under S. 34. Similar view was expressed in Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edn. , vol. 10 at page 337. It has been pointed out that on an information being laid before a justice of the peace that any person has, or is suspected of having committed an offence, the justice may in certain circumstances issue a summons requiring that person to appear before a Magistrate's court to answer the information, or may issue a warrant to arrest him and bring him before a Magistrate's Court. Generally speaking, any person may lay the information and make the charge before the justice, except where a statutory provision limits the power of making the. charge to certain persons, or makes the consent or order of some person a condition precedent to the institution of proceedings. In Emperor v. Ismail Hirji air. 1930 Bom. 49. their Lordships, while considering S. 6 of the Bombay Prevention of gambling Act, pointed out that S. 6 does not impose any limitation on the power of any person to make a complaint on oath to the Commissioner of Police. As a general rule, any person, having knowledge of the commission of an offence, may set the law in motion by a complaint, even though he is not personally interested or affected by the offence. It is important to observe in the present case that the offence charged is one that is against public policy. Therefore, the complainant was competent to set the law in motion against the accused for alleged contravention of Ss. 3 and 4 of the Act punishable under Sections 12 and 13 of the Act.

(9) I therefore, reject the reference and direct the Magistrate to proceed with the case and dispose of the same in accordance with law.

Advocates List

For the Appearing Parties B.V. Deshpande, K. Subba Rao, S.M. Wali, Advocates.

For Petitioner
  • Shekhar Naphade
  • Mahesh Agrawal
  • Tarun Dua
For Respondent
  • S. Vani
  • B. Sunita Rao
  • Sushil Kumar Pathak

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