1. This is an application in revision against the decree in a Small Cause suit passed by the First Class Subordinate Judge at Broach invested with Small Cause Court powers. The suit was filed by the plaintiff to recover Rs. 462-1-3 said to be due in respect of goods supplied to the defendant. The defendant contended that there was no privity of contract between him and the plaintiff, that the goods had been supplied to him by one Chunibhai J. Patel and not by the plaintiff's firm, that as the said firm of Chunibhai J. Patel had not been registered, the suit was not maintainable, that there had been a settlement of the accounts and he had sent a cheque for Rs. 87-3-6 and that the amount claimed was not due. These pleadings raised several questions of law and fact and a good deal of oral evidence was recorded on several days between 27th October 1941, when the plaintiff was examined, and 8th April 1942, when the defendant closed his case. Arguments were heard on 15th June 1942. The learned Judge then stated the points for decision and his findings thereon and decreed the plaintiff's claim, without giving any reasons for his findings on the ground that he was not bound to do so under Order 20, Rule 4, Sub-rule (1), Civil P.C. 1908, which provides:
Judgments of a Court of Small Causes need not contain more than the points for determination and the decision thereon.
2. This sub-rule should be considered along with the provisions of Section 25, Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887, which empowers the High Court, for the purpose of satisfying itself that any case decided by a Court of Small Causes is according to law, to call for the case and pass such order with respect thereto as it thinks fit. This impliedly requires the Judge deciding a Small Cause suit to make his judgment sufficiently intelligible to enable the High Court to be satisfied that his decision is according to law. Order 20, Rule 4(1), requires him to state the points for determination and the decision thereon and his judgment need not contain anything more. This does not debar him from making the judgment intelligible by giving a few reasons, if he thinks it necessary, especially when complicated questions of law are raised, --any error in deciding such questions being liable to be corrected by the High Court in revision. When the High Court is empowered to satisfy itself as to whether a decision of the Judge of a Small Causes Court is according to law or not, a correlative duty is impliedly cast on that Judge to make his judgment sufficiently intelligible to enable the High Court to perform its duty properly. The Legislature has, however, deliberately omitted in Sub-rule (1) the words 'and the reasons for such decision,' which occur in Sub-rule (2), bearing in mind that Small Cause Suits are usually simple and are expected to be disposed of summarily and speedily. Ordinarily, if the notes of the oral evidence are properly taken down and the points for determination and the decisions thereon are stated with sufficient perspicuity and precision, the judgment becomes self-contained and the reasons for the decision can be easily gathered.
3. In Moideen Koya v. Moideen Kutti A.I.R. 1925 Mad. 1229 although the case involved only questions of facts, the Judge had clubbed together all points foe determination and made a statement merely to the effect that he found all the issues in favour of the plaintiff, and Srinivasa Ayyangar J. held that that could not be regarded as a compliance with the provisions of Order 20, Rule 4 (1). In that case it appeared clear from the evidence that the Judge had not applied his mind to one of the important questions in the suit, as to whether the defendants had committed a breach of the contract. All that is really required is that the points for determination and the decisions thereon should be so worded as to convey some indication that the Judge has applied his mind to every question of law and fact arising in the case and come to a definite conclusion on each of them. But even in Small Cause suits complicated questions of law and fact are likely to arise and a mere monosyllabic answer to such a question would not be enough to enable the revising Court to surmise the reasons behind that answer. In such a case a brief discussion of the question would be not only appropriate, but necessary. Though no hard and fast rule can be laid down, on a reasonable interpretation of Order 20, Rule 4 (1), read with Section 25, Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, it may be stated that in a Small Cause suit, on a question of fact, the Judge need not give more than a clear statement of the points which he has to decide and his decisions thereon, and if he thinks them to be sufficiently intelligible, he is not bound to give his reasons for those decisions. But on a question of law, if a bare finding is not likely to indicate the reasoning by which it is arrived at, the Judge, in order to enable the High Court to see if his decision is according to law, is bound, in the words of Reilly J. in Mariyayee Ammal v. Ponnusami Chettiar A.I.R. 1932 Mad. 336 to set out so much of his reason as will make clear the road by which he reached his conclusion.
4. Applying these principles to the facts of the present case, we have to see whether the learned Judge has correctly stated the points at issue so as to be sufficiently intelligible and recorded his decisions on them. A point of law was raised as to whether the suit could lie when the firm of Chunibhai J. Patel was not registered. But the learned Judge has sidetracked it by formulating a general issue as to whether the suit by C.R. Contractor & Co. against the defendant in respect of the suit dealings is maintainable. The plaintiff's manager Gordhandas has admitted in his cross-examination that he sold to the defendant oil of Burmah Shell Co., as their agent. The agency of that company is in the name of Chunibhai J. Patel. The bills issued to the defendant are all in the name of Chunibhai J. Patel. Moneys were received from the defendant in the khata of Chunibhai J. Patel in his account books. The correspondence with the defendant was all in the name of Chunibhai J. Patel and the cheque of Rs. 87 odd was also in the name of Chunibhai J. Patel. Thus, all the dealings of the defendant were with Chunibhai J. Patel, and the proper point for decision was whether the defendant was liable to the plaintiff for the price of the goods supplied to him by Chunibhai J. Patel. But the point for decision as framed by the learned Judge does not give any indication that he applied his mind to the admissions made by Gordhandas that all the dealings of the defendant were with Chunibhai J. Patel. Even if he had given brief reasons for his finding on that issue, the purpose would have been served. Similarly, the defendant contended all along that there was a settlement, that Rs. 87-3-6 were found due and that he had sent a cheque for that amount. But the learned Judge did not frame any issue, nor has he given any definite decision on that point. He has not also framed an issue as to what amount is found due to the plaintiff on accounts. Perhaps it may be said that the general issue as to what decree should be passed was intended to cover that point. However, when a Judge does not give any reasons for his decisions, he must at least make it clear that he has given his consideration to all the points appearing in the pleadings and the evidence, frame proper issues and record his findings. By reason of the general issues framed by the learned Judge it is difficult to see whether his decisions are according to law.
5. I, therefore, think that in the interests of justice it is necessary to make the rule absolute and send down the case in order that arguments may be heard again and the suit disposed of according to law. I am given to understand that the learned Judge who decided the suit is no longer at Broach. If that is so, it will be open to the Judge who tries the suit to re-examine the parties or the witnesses, if he thinks it necessary to do so. Costs of this application will be costs in the cause. Rule made absolute.