The Karnataka High Court said that Law publishers who print and publish statutes and statutory instruments should be extra cautious.

The Court was deciding a writ appeal filed under Section 4 of the Karnataka High Court Act against the order of the Single Judge by which a writ petition was disposed.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Anjaria and Justice Krishna S Dixit observed, “It goes without saying that if for the ‘mistake of law’, none should suffer, none should suffer for the ‘mistake of Law Publisher’ too. It is high time to state that those who print & publish statutes and statutory instruments should be extra cautious, or else, they run the risk of being hauled up for the contempt of court, perjury & the like offences, in addition to being black-listed from public tenders for the supply of books of their publication.”

Advocate Keshava Bhat A. represented the appellant while AGA Niloufer Akbar represented the respondents.

In this case, the counsel for the appellant argued that the prayer in the petition was for a writ of mandamus to the respondents to grant the subject land by issuing a Grant Certificate/Saguvali Chit. Such a prayer was made in view of the order of the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal by which it had directed determination of the amount payable, not setting aside the lease granted. Therefore, he found fault with the impugned judgment and sought a substantive direction.

The Additional Government Advocate for the respondents opposed the appeal contending that for relief of the kind, the Single Judge rightly relegated the appellant to the office of Assistant Commissioner and he can work out his remedy there itself. Incidentally, the attention of the court was also drawn to the 2023 amendment to the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969, to contend that the appellant had to make certain payment at the rates now revised, if at all relief was to be granted to him. So, contending, she sought dismissal of the appeal.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “… we are inclined to grant indulgence in the matter broadly agreeing with the submission made by the counsel for the appellant. There is already the Grant Order and that the same is affirmed in appellant’s appeal decided by the Appellate Tribunal. What has been left over for consideration at the hands of the authorities was only the question of the payment for the subject grant. When there is statutory Tribunal’s order, relegating the appellant to the Assistant Commissioner for seeking a fresh grant is not justified.”

It held that the appellant is liable to pay the charges under the pre-amendment Rules of 2023.

Accordingly, the High Court allowed the appeal and issued a writ of mandamus to formalize the grant in favour of the appellant in terms of extant rules.

Cause Title- Fr. Valerian Fernandes v. State of Karnataka & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:KHC:12572-DB)

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