Decided on May 12,1970

Biman Chandra Pachani Appellant
STATE OF ASSAM Respondents


P.K.GOSWAMI, 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. 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.
(3.) THE Act was first made in the year 1867 and it repealed an earlier Act XI of 1835.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.;

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