Karnataka High Court Warns Publishers on Printing Statutes

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The Karnataka High Court issued a stern warning to publishers responsible for printing and disseminating statutes and statutory instruments. 

The court emphasized the importance of accuracy in their publications, cautioning that any mistakes could lead to severe consequences, including contempt of court, perjury charges, and potential blacklisting from public tenders for book supplies.

The division bench, comprising Chief Justice N V Anjaria and Justice Krishna S Dixit, issued this observation during the hearing of an appeal filed by Fr. Valerian Fernandes. The appeal challenged the dismissal of Fernandes’ petition seeking a mandamus to grant him a land certificate.

During the proceedings, the government advocate referenced the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969, as published by KLJ Publications in 2019. However, upon review, the court noted discrepancies in the publication’s interpretation of an amendment related to land grants.

Highlighting the potential repercussions of such inaccuracies, the court stressed that citizens should not suffer due to mistakes made by publishers. It underscored the need for publishers to exercise diligence and accuracy in their publications to avoid misleading interpretations of statutory provisions.

The court upon reading the provision said “It goes without saying that if for the ‘mistake of law’, none should suffer, none should suffer for the ‘mistake of Law Publisher’ too.

Ultimately, the court granted Fernandes’ petition, emphasizing that existing grant orders should be upheld and that seeking a fresh grant from the Assistant Commissioner was unjustified. 

The court directed the second respondent to formalize the grant in accordance with prevailing rules, holding Fernandes liable to pay charges under the pre-amendment rules of 2023.

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