Criminal case against online bookseller: SC seeks state's reply

The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from Karnataka government on a plea by Delhi’s leading exporter of books and journals against criminal proceedings initiated against it for offering to sell online a book written by a retired Army officer from Bengaluru without permission.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal, however, refused to stay at this stage the proceedings started against D K Agencies Pvt Ltd by the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate I at Bengaluru and an FIR registered on September 5, 2013 at the Halasuru police station under Section 65 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and under Section 63 of the Copyright Act 1957.

In his brief submission, senior advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for the petitioner company contended that there was no case made out for violation of the Information Technology or the Copyright Act as the petitioner did not sell a single copy of the book. “We are not staying the proceedings. Let notice to be served to all the respondents,” the bench told the counsel.

The court put the matter for further hearing on February 27 and agreed to seek reply from Lt Col (Retd) D K Havanoor, who lodged complaint against D K Agencies, contending it obtained one copy of the book 'March of a Foot Soldier' written by him and put it for sale online without seeking required permission from him.

Havanoor claimed that he was also the publisher of his book and the company was selling the book not only online within the country, but also in other countries for a price of
$41.20, which is a phenomenal amount for a book costing Rs 500 in India.

D K Agencies approached the Karnataka High Court for quashing of the proceedings. The high court disposed of his plea with a direction that there should not be arrest of the petitioner and the order declaring him as absconder be recalled on filing of an application before the trial court. In its special leave petition, D K Agencies challenged the high court judgement of November 23, 2016.

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