Law book publishers who print statutes should be extra cautious, any mistakes may invite contempt or perjury proceedings: Karnataka High Court

It is high time those who print and publish statutes and statutory instruments are extra cautious, or else, they run the risk of being hauled up for contempt of court, perjury, and such offenses for printing books with wrong provisions of the laws, the High Court of Karnataka has cautioned the publishers.

In addition, the Court said that the publishers would also run the risk of being blacklisted from public tenders for the supply of books of their publication for publishing the law books with errors.

“It goes without saying that if for the ‘mistake of law’, nobody should suffer, nobody should suffer for the ‘mistake of law publisher’ too,” observed a Division Bench consisting of Chief Justice NV Anjaria and Justice Krishna S. Dixit.

The Bench has made these observations in its order on a writ appeal, filed by Fr. Valerian Fernandes of Naravi in ​​Belthangadi taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, on an issue related to land grant after the Bench noticed an error in a law book, titled Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969, KLJ Publications, 2019, 5th Edition, published by KLJ Publications , Bengaluru.

A government advocate, citing the said book, quoted a provision of the rule stating that a provision of the rule has been ‘substituted’ by way of amendment of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules. The government advocate, citing the amended rule printed in the book, had also contended that as per the amended rule, there is a requirement of payment of certain percentage of ‘market value’ by the litigant-claimant of the land in relation to a granted land as the rule was given effect retrospectively.

However, the advocate for the litigant pointed out that what had been printed in the law book, which was quoted by the government advocate, was erroneous when compared to the notification issued by the government amending the rule in 2023.

On going through the notification, the Bench said that it did not indicate that the amendment was by way of ‘substitution’, as rightly pointed out by the advocate for the litigant; and the appellant-litigant is liable to pay the charges as per the provisions existing prior to 2023 amendment.

“But for the intervention of advocate for the litigant, we would have been swayed away by the mistaken version of the KLJ Publications, Bengaluru, to the enormous detriment of citizens,” the Bench observed while cautioning the law book publishers against printing of the law books with such errors.