1. This Appeal is filed against the decree passed in Special Suit No. 19 of 1963 on the file of the Civil Judge. Hubli. The plaintiff instituted the above suit for recovery of the value of a motor vehicle bearing No. MYF 4555 and for damages for wrongful detention of the same. The suit was instituted against two defendants by name L.D. Narvekar and D.K. Narvekar, D.K. Narvekar is the nephew of L.D. Narvekar. The case of the plaintiff as disclosed in the plaint was that he has entered into an agreement with the defendants to transport logs of wood belonging to the defendants, from an area called Mundgod forest area to Mundgod forest depot and sleepers from Mundgod depot to Hubli Railway Station. In that connection, a written agreement was entered into on 9-4-1960 (Ex. 143). After the agreement was entered into, the plaintiff found that the representation of the defendants with regard to the place where the logs had been stacked and the condition of the roads which he had to use were not correct.
He stated that it had been mentioned by the defendants that the condition of the road from Mundgod forest area to Mundgod forest depot was good and that he could transport the wood from the forest area to the forest depot without much inconvenience. On going to the forest area it was found by the servants of the plaintiff that the said representation was not true, that the logs of wood were hot in one place and that they were hi the interior of the forest and it was also noticed that the condition of the road was very bad. In spite of the foregoing, it is stated that a few trips were carried out by the drivers of the plain-tiff. On 22-4-1960. one Sheriff, the driver of the plaintiff was sent for by the defendants to take the truck to the depot of the first defendant and when he went there, the defendants detained the truck by force and sent away the driver without the truck.
It is also stated that under the agreement, the defendants had undertaken to pay a sum of Rs. 5,000/- and pursuant to the said agreement, a sum of Rs. 1,916-was paid by the defendants by way of tax in respect of the plaintiff's vehicle payable to the transport Department and even after taking into account some money which, the defendants had spent towards oil, petrol, etc., the defendants were still due to pay some balance. In order to collect the said balance, the plaintiff had sent the driver with a receipt for a sum of Rs. 5,000/-. The defendants after taking the receipt from the driver of the plaintiff, refused to pay the balance. So the case of the plaintiff Is that the sum payable as advance, had not been Paid by the defendants in full. He has. in the course of the plaint, referred to the correspondence between the parties and stated that the defendants had no right to detain the vehicle on and after 22-4-1960. The suit was therefore instituted for the recovery of the value of the truck MYF 4555 and for the damages payable on account of illegal detention of the said truck.
2. The first defendant in his written statement stated that he had nothing to do with the contract on which the plaintiff relied. He stated that the business in respect of which the contract had been entered into by the plaintiff On 9-4-1960, was the exclusive business of the second defendant and even though the first defendant was financing the second defendant, the forest contract that had been entered into by the second defendant with the Government was for his own benefit. Admittedly the vehicle had been left in his depot but he disclaimed all responsibility in respect of the same. The second defendant's case was that he had advanced the entire sum of Rs. 5,000/- which he had undertaken to pay at the commencement to the plaintiff and that since the plaintiff had committed default in transporting the timber from the forest area to the forest depot, he was entitled in law to detain the vehicle on 22-4-1960 by way of security for the amount that he had advanced.
He also pleaded that the plaintiff had lost all title to it in view of the right of seizure exercised by one Bothra with whom the plaintiff had a hire-purchase agreement in respect of the vehicle in question. He denied that he had made use of the vehicle for his own purpose and he claimed that the vehicle was there by way of security. He further stated that at any rate on 7-8-1960. he had written to the plaintiff to take away the vehicle without any condition. Under those circumstances, according to the second defendant, he was not liable for damages on and after 7-8-1960. It may be mentioned that the letter dated 7-8--1960 reached the plaintiff on 9-8-1960. On the basis of the aforesaid pleadings, the trial Court framed several issues and after recording the evidence and hearing the parties, it came to the conclusion that the plaintiff had not made out any case against the defendants and accordingly dismissed the suit. Aggrieved by the said decree, the plaintiff has filed this appeal. We are informed that the 2nd defendant has obtained a decree against the plaintiff in respect of the sum advanced by him to the plaintiff. Hencewe are concerned in this appeal only with the claim by the plaintiff for damages for illegal detention of the motor vehicle No. MYF. 4555.
3. Sri V. Tarakaram, learned counsel for the plaintiff contended that the second defendant had no right to detain the vehicle on and after 22-4-1960. It was argued by him that there was no stipulation in the agreement (Ex. 14_3) which authorised defendant 2 to detain the motor vehicle used by the plaintiff for purposes of transporting the wood under the said agreement when there was a default on the part of the plaintiff in the performance of the contract It was argued that neither under statute law nor under Common Law it was permissible for a person in the position of the second defendant to detain the vehicle in question and so it was contended that from 22-4-1960. the detention of the vehicle by the second defendant was wrongful and he was liable to pay damages.
4. Sri V. H. Ron. learned counsel for the defendants contended that the second defendant had every justification in law to detain the vehicle because a large sum was due to the second defendant from the plaintiff. He submitted that the plaintiff made incorrect representations regarding his title to the vehicle and that one Bothra who was the financier of the plaintiff had asked him to hold the vehicle on his behalf from 10-6-1960. He therefore contended that the detention was legal. We find it difficult to agree with the submission made on behalf of the defendants on the above question. In order to justify the detention of a chattel belonging to another, the person detaining the same must show that he has a right to do so either under the contract or under law. Secondly, a person who has wrongfully detained a chattel in the possession of another would not be in law entitled to set up a title in a third party when a suit is instituted by the person from whose possession it is taken for recovery of its possession unless he is dispossessed of the same by a third party claiming under title paramount. No authority has been cited before us in which a contrary view has been taken. In the suit contract Ex. 143, as already stated, we do not find any clause which authorised the second defendant to detain the vehicle. It was not permissible for the second defendant under those circumstances to detain it even as security for the amount due to him. It must therefore be held that the detention of the vehicle in question by the second defendant on 22-4-1960 was unauthorised and illegal and he is liable to pay damages to the plaintiff as a consequence thereof.
5. The question to be decided next is upto what date such illegal detention continued. Ex. 138 is a letter written on behalf of the second defendant to the plaintiff on 7-8-1960. The said letter reached the plaintiff on 9-8-1960. In the said letter, it was stated that the plaintiff was at liberty to take away the vehicle from the depot of the first defendant where it had been left by the plaintiff's driver on 22-4-1960. From the date onwards the second defendant cannot be held responsible for the detention of the vehicle. The plaintiff, apparently, has not made any effort thereafter to take possession of the vehicle from the depot of the first defendant. Sri Tarakaram, learned counsel for the plaintiff contended that it was not his duty to go to the first defendant's depot to take possession of the vehicle but it was the duty of the second defendant to deliver the vehicle to the plaintiff. We do not find any support for this proposition in law. This is a case where the driver of the plaintiff had left the vehicle at the first defendant's depot where the vehicle was detained by the second defendant. In those circumstances we cannot hold that the second defendant was under any obligation to take the vehicle to the place where the plaintiff was residing and to deliver the same. We therefore hold that the illegal detention of the vehicle came to an end on 9-8-1960.
6. The next question for consideration is one relating to the quantum of damages. Even according to the plaintiff the profit which the plaintiff was making from the vehicle in question was Rs. 25/- per day and it is at that rate damages have been claimed in the notice Ex. 139. The said claim does not appear to be unreasonable. The period of illegal detention in this case is 102 days. The plaintiff would not be entitled, in view of the enunciation made by the Supreme Court in Dhian Singh v. Union of India, : 1SCR781 . to get damages for the entire period. It may be safely assumed that having regard to the condition of the vehicle it was capable of being in commission during one half of the total number of days during which it was illegally detained as held by the Supreme Court in the above decision and on that basis if damages are computed the plaintiff would be entitled to get a sum of Rs. 1,275/- at the rate of Rs. 25/- per day.
Hence the suit is decreed in part. There shall be a decree against defendant No. 2 who alone was the party to the contract and had detained the vehicle, for a sum of Rs. 1,275/- with current interest at 6 per cent per annum from the date of the decree of the lower Court The suit against defendant No. 1 is dismissed. It is however made clear thateven now it is open to the plaintiff to go and take the vehicle which is lying in the first defendant's depot and Sri Ron has no objection to the plaintiff sending any of his agents to collect the same from the depot on any day within two months. The plaintiff is therefore permitted to take the vehicle from the depot of the first defendant in the condition in which it is now within a period of two months from today. The suit claim in other respects is dismissed. Defendant No. 2 will pay the plaintiff proportionate costs in this Court and in the Court below. The first defendant will bear his costs in both the Courts.