1. This is a revision petition by the defendant preferred under Section 18 of the Karnataka Small Causes Courts Act, 1964.
2. The suit out of which the revision petition arises, has got many ugly features, and it seems to me that there is something more than that meets the eyes.
3. The plaint unfolds the following facts: The plaintiff was the Secretary, Udipi Co-operative Stores and also the proprietor of a textile shop called 'Vijaya Textiles'. The defendant was a District Inspector of Co-operative Societies, who was charged with the duty to supervise the Co-operative Societies. The plaintiff has a daughter who, in 1970, appeared for B. Com. degree examination of the Mysore University. The plaintiff wanted her to secure a second class, if not first class. In the beginning of November, 1970, the defendant was in his usual inspection tour to Udipi. When he was inspecting the said Co-operative Stores, the plaintiff expressed his anxiety about his daughter's result. Then, it is said that the defendant told him not to worry and assured him that he would get the matter done, with the assistance of his friends at Mysore. He particularly referred to one Dr. P. Rangaramu at Mysore and induced the plaintiff to part with Rs. 800/-. The plaintiff readily accepted the offer and paid Rs. 800/- and also accompanied the defendant upto Mysore and back spending in all Rs. 350/- to meet the expenses. It was also stated that on 6th November, 1970, the defendant borrowed from the plaintiff Rs. 700/- as hand-loan on the representation that he had not then received his pay. In the suit, the plaintiff has claimed the alleged hand-loan of Rs. 700/- and also Rs. 350/- said to have been spent towards travelling expenses. He has generously stated that the defendant has returned the said sum of Rs. 800/-.
4. The defendant denied the plaint allegations. He said that the attempt of the plaintiff was to malign him since he had made certain caustic remarks against the plaintiff in his inspection report relating to the working of the Co-operative Society of which the plaintiff was Secretary.
The only undisputed fact in this shrouded mystery is that the plaintiff's daughter did not get a class, much less a pass in the B. Com., degree examination.
5. The plaintiff, besides his oral evidence to prove the payment of hand-loan of Rs. 700/- to the defendant, has also produced Ext. p-1, the Day Book of the Vijaya Textile and Ext. p-2, the General Ledger of the same establishment. In Ext. p-1, at the bottom of page 68, there is an entry made to this effect:
Suspense Account Amt. paid toSiddalingappa 700.00'.
That entry has been marked as Ext. p-1(a). In the General Ledger, at the top of page 50, the following entries are found:
'...6-11-70 Siddalingappa 700-0030-11-70 Siddalingappa 800-00.'
The above entries have been marked as Exhibits p-2(a) and p-2(b).
6. The learned Civil Judge, Udipi. who tried the case, decreed the plaintiff's suit for Rs. 700/- while disallowing the claim of the plaintiff for Rs. 350/- on the ground that it was spent for illegal purposes.
7. Before I go into the merits of the contentions urged for the parties, it is necessary to see the scope of the revision petition. Section 18 of the Karnataka Small Causes Courts Act, 1964 confers revisional power to the High Court to examine whether the decision of the lower court is according to law or not. It reads.
'18. Revision of decrees and orders of Courts of Small Causes. -- The High Court, for the purpose of satisfying itself, that a decree or order made in any case decided by a Court of Small Causes was according to law, may call for the case and pass such orders with respect thereto, as it thinks fit.'
The scope of the similar expression found in Section 75(1) of the Provincial Insolvency Act, 1920, came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Malini Ayyappa Naicker v. Seth Manghrai Udnavdas Firm, : 3SCR698 in which it was observed that the expression 'according to law' is wider in ambit than the expression 'contrary to law' found in Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It was also observed therein that the Court ought not to interfere merely because it thinks that possibly the Judge who heard the case may have arrived at a conclusion which the High Court would not have arrived at. In Hari Shankar v. Rao Girdhari Lal Chowdhary, AIR 1963 SC 698 the Supreme Court while considering the expression 'according to law' found in Section 35 of the Delhi and Ajmer Rent (Control) Act, observed that it should not be equated to errors or law or on fact simpliciter; it refers to the over all decision, which must be according to law which it would not be, if there is a miscarriage of justice, due to a mistake of law. It was also observed that in exercise of such powers, the High Court cannot interfere with a plain finding of fact arrived at by the court below. While dealing with the scope of the jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act, 1887, the Madras High Court in re Firm Beharilal Baldeo-prasad, : AIR1955Mad271 case observed that where the evidence makes it clear that a question of fact was gone into by the Judge and his decision is apparently in accordance with the evidence, the High Court will not usually interfere in revision merely because it is possible to take a different view of the evidence to that of the court below. It was further observed that the decision of the Small Cause Court should not be interfered with in revision, though it may even be erroneous, unless the conclusion is one which no Judge acting judicially could reasonably reach.
8. Bearing in mind these principles, I will now consider whether the decision of the court below is in accordance with law.
9. The suit has been decreed relying on the entry Ext. p-1(a) in the Day Book of the Vijaya Textiles and a corresponding entry in Ext. p-2(a) and Ext. p-2(b) in the General Ledger of the same establishment. In support of these entries, the oral evidence of the plaintiff (P.W.1), and the evidence of one Babu Shetty (P.W. 2) was also relied upon. It may be interesting to note the observations made by the learned Judge while commenting on the said entries and the oral evidence. He has observed that the Day Book and the General Ledger have not been maintained as they were expected to be maintained. He has also observed that there is slight difference in the ink with which the entries in question have been made. But he said that it does not mean that it was a subsequent entry. The learned Judge, out of his own imagination, has further observed that it might have depended upon the pen used for making those entries. On P-W. 2, he has commented that his evidence was not up to the mark. But he said that it should not be ruled out as false one. He went on to observe that even leaving aside the evidence of P.W. 2, the remaining materials on record, coupled with the circumstances in the case, would be sufficient to prove the lending of Rs. 700/- to the defendant. The manner in which the judgment was written shows that the learned Civil Judge had no firm conclusion. He was more often oscillating, sometimes faltering and finally landed himself in favour of the plaintiff, if I may say so, on a slippery ground.
10. The conclusion of the learned Civil Judge was primarily based on the entries in the account book and the ledger book of the Vijaya Textiles, of the plaintiff. It is relevant testate that an entry in an account book is an admission by the maker thereof in his own favour and it is accepted as evidence only if it strictly complies with the requirements of being kept regularly and in the ordinary course of business. If the account books and the entries made therein are of suspicious character, or do not inspire confidence in a court of justice, they should not be relied upon.
11. Now, turning to the Day Book or the Ledger Book, produced by the plaintiff, it strikes to any one that they have not been kept regularly and in the ordinary course of business. The entry under Ext. p-2(a) is undoubtedly of a suspicious character for more than one reason. Firstly, it has been entered in a different ink; secondly, the said entry was written in between the two regular lines in a cramped style although it could have been written neatly one below the other on the lines clearly drawn on the said page. Likewise, Ext. p-1, the Day Book entry also shows that the writing therein is also in a different ink. All the rest of the entries made on that particular day, are in a marked contrast with the entry under Ext. p-1(a), besides it is at the end of that page. These circumstances, in my opinion, detract from the value of the entries and no court of law would be justified in accepting them.
In Kurapati Venkata Mallayya v. Thondepu Ramaswamy and Co. : AIR1964SC818 the Supreme Court, while dealing with the scope of Section 34 of the Evidence Act observed that the cumulative effect of the circumstances like a debit entry at the end of a page in an account book, that the description of the goods so closely written in a cramped style on the same page though it could have been written on the next page and the total amount debited being written in different ink detracted from the value of the entry. It is necessary to point out, even where books of account have been kept in the regular course of business, no person can be charged with the liability merely on the basis of entries in such books and there has to be further evidence to prove the alleged payment. In Chandradhar Goswami v. Gauhati Bank Ltd., : 1SCR898a while dealing with the scope of Section 34 of the Evidence Act, the Supreme Court observed at page 1061 thus:
'Section 34 says that such entry alone shall not be sufficient evidence, and so, some independent evidence had to be given by the bank to show that this sum was advanced. What would be the nature of such independent evidence would certainly depend upon the facts of each case, but there can be no doubt that some independent evidence to show that advance bad been made has to be given.'
12. The oral evidence in the case is of P.W.1 and P.W. 2. The evidence of the plaintiff is only self-serving. The evidence of P.W. 2 has been characterised by the learned Civil Judge as not being up to the mark. Yet, he has relied upon that evidence, P.W. 2 has admitted that he did not know the exact amount paid by the plaintiff to the defendant. He has only stated that he saw the plaintiff paying some amount to the defendant. He was ignorant of the talk that was going on between the plaintiff and the defendant and the source from which the plaintiff took the cash and paid to the defendant. That is all the evidence in the case. On these evidence, in my view, even a lay man cannot form an opinion in favour of the plaintiff, leave alone a Judge acting judicially. The learned Civil Judge, unfortunately, while writing the lengthy judgment, apparently forgot the crux of the matter and erroneously reached the conclusion which nobody could reasonably reach. If such evidence is accepted, nobody would be safe in the society. The plaintiff could go on writing something in his account book and charge his opponent with liability to pay any amount.
13. In the result, the revision petition is a!]owed, the judgment of the lower court is set aside, and the plaintiff's suit in dismissed with costs of the defendant, here and in the court below. Advocate's fee is Rs.100/-.
14. Revision allowed.