Norman Macleod, Kt., C.J.
1. In Suit No 966 of 1923 the defendants raised an issue whether the plaintiff delivered a notice of his claim as required by as. 77 and HO of the Indian Railways Act.
2. On June 15, 1922, the plaintiff wrote to the Deputy Traffic Manager that the bales had not been received and requesting him to settle the claim.
3. On June 23, the letter was acknowledged, and it was intimated that the claim would receive attention.
4. On October 23, the plaintiff was informed that his claim could not be accepted as the goods were burnt accidentally by fire. This information would not have reached the plaintiff within six months from the date the goods were consigned.
5. On November 25, the plaintiff wrote to the Agent of the defendant company giving notice of his claim. The learned Judge held that the first notice given to the Deputy Traffic Manager was a notice to the railway administration on the ground that there was a Department in the Traffic Manager's office which dealt with claims, to which claims addressed to the Agent would be sent for disposal. As the railway administration had constituted a separate department for dealing with claims and that department kept a register of claims to which the Agent had access at any time, a notice to the Traffic Manager was a notice to the railway administration. With due respect that may be equity but it is not logic.
6. Section 140 of the Indian Railways Act defines when notice has to be given under the Act to the railway administration, how that notice has to be given, and the mere fact that the Agent constitutes a department for the registering and investigation of claims, cannot deprive the railway company of the protection given to it by the Act against suits on claims of which due notice as provided by the Act has not been given to it.
7. In my opinion the notice of June 15, 1922, was not a notice to the railway administration. It might be argued that where the Traffic Manager delayed for four months before informing the plaintiff that his claim could not be entertained, the company had by their own action induced the plaintiff' to refrain from sending a notice under Section 77 to the railway company. But when a person claiming against a railway company must be presumed to know that he must do a certain act in a certain way within a fixed time, without which preparatory step a suit will not be competent, he is not prevented from taking that step because he has been told that his claim is receiving attention and no further answer is received before the expiry of the six months. On the contrary the fact that his claim is not being attended to is sufficient to warn him that if he wants to prosecute his claim in Court he must do what the law requires.
8. On a strict interpretation of the law I feel compelled to hold that the point raised by the defendant company was competent, and was fatal to the plaintiff's case.