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T.V. Lakshmojirao Vs. Somavarapu Venkatappaiah - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 483 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1966AP292
AppellantT.V. Lakshmojirao
RespondentSomavarapu Venkatappaiah
Appellant AdvocateG.S. Murthy, Adv. for ;2nd Govt. Pleader
Respondent AdvocateT. Dasaratharamaiah, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....village munsif in his written statement has denied that he was instigated by the karnam to make a false report and stated that the attachment was perfectly valid. if therefore, a complainant does not go beyond giving what he believes to be correct information to the police and the police without further interference on his part (except giving such honest assistance as they may require) think fit to prosecute, it would be improper to make him responsible in damages for the failure of the prosecution. badri sah 51 mad lj 42 :(air 1926 pc 46). 10. a reading of these decisions would go to show that now it can be taken as well established that if a person docs nothing beyond giving information to the police which he considers to be true an action for damages for malicious prosecution would..........village munsif in his written statement has denied that he was instigated by the karnam to make a false report and stated that the attachment was perfectly valid. he denied that he initiated the proceeding and that there was any cause of action against him.4. the third defendant also pleaded that the attachment was valid and denied that the report was false. he also denied that the karnam gave the report at the instigation of the first defendant. a legal plea was also taken that the suit was barred by res judicata on account of the decision in o. s. no. 172 of 1983 on the file of the district munsif's court, nuzvid.5. the first defendant adopted the written statement of the third defendant.6. on these averments in the pleadings, the trial court framed nine issues and on the evidence.....
Judgment:

Manoher Pershad, J.

1. In this second appeal (revision) by the first defendant the short point falls for consideration is whether he is responsible for the damages claimed by the plaintiff, the respondent herein for malicious prosecution. The trial Court held that the plaintiff respondent has failed to prove that the report given by the first defendant was without any reasonable and probable cause or out of malice. Accordingly it dismissed the suit. The appellate Court held that the first defendant launched the prosecution falsely and maliciously without any reasonable and probable cause and decreed the suit. In order to determine the point in question I have to refer to the facts of the case.

2. The respondent is a ryot owning both inam and sen lands at Narrukullapadu in Tiruvuru Taluk. There were disputes between him and the village karnam. He filed a suit against the Zamindar and the Slate and obtained a decree for grant of patta. The first defendant who is the Revenue Inspector and the second defendant who is the village Munsif made demands for payment of the land revenue, and threatened to proceed against him personally by attaching his movable property. Subsequently the second defendant prevailed upon the first defendant to make a report with false allegations to the Deputy Tahsildar of Vissannapet and to the station House Officer of that place. Accordingly a complaint was made that he obstructed a public servant in the discharge of his duties under Section 183 I. P. C. As a result of the complaint, a prosecution was launched against him before the sub-magistrate who remanded him to custody for eight days and thereafter he was released on bail. The prosecution ended in an acquittal. He suffered a great mental pain owing to the arrest and imprisonment and had to spend large sums of money to defend himself. He therefore, claims Rs. 500 by way of damages. In this action he has impleaded the Revenue Inspector, the village Munsif and the Collector as defendants 1 to 3 respectively.

3. The village munsif in his written statement has denied that he was instigated by the karnam to make a false report and stated that the attachment was perfectly valid. He denied that he initiated the proceeding and that there was any cause of action against him.

4. The third defendant also pleaded that the attachment was valid and denied that the report was false. He also denied that the karnam gave the report at the instigation of the first defendant. A legal plea was also taken that the suit was barred by res judicata on account of the decision in O. S. No. 172 of 1983 on the file of the District Munsif's Court, Nuzvid.

5. The first defendant adopted the written statement of the third defendant.

6. On these averments in the pleadings, the trial Court framed nine issues and on the evidence produced dismissed the suit holding that the report made by the first defendant was not without any reasonable and probable cause and out of malice. Aggrieved by the judgment and decree of District Munsif, the plaintiff went in appeal. The appellate Court disagreed with the finding of the trial Court and allowing the appeal decreed the suit as against the first defendant and dismissed as against the defendants 2 and 3. The first defendant has now come up in revision.

7. In this second appeal (revision) it is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner (appellant) relying on the case of Chandrareddi v. Ramireddi, 1954-2 Mad LI (Andh) 189; ((S) AIR 1955 Andh 218) that the appellate Court has erred in coming to the conclusion that the appellant (revision petitioner) is liable to pay damages to the plaintiff when the evidence on record does not go to show that the first defendant had taken any active part or that he was the main prosecutor. On behalf of the other side, Sri Dasarathamayya relying on the case of Gaya Parshad v. Dhagat Singh, (1908) 18 Mad LJ 394 (PC) followed in Venkatappayya v. Ramakrishnamma, 62 Mad LJ 107: (AIR 1932 Mad 53), contended that when the first defendant knew that the report given by him was false and he not only gave a false report but gave evidence in the case in support of his report that would be sufficient to hold him responsible for damages in law.

8. In order to appreciate the respective contentions the first thing that I have to see is whether the appellant (revision petitioner) is the person who has taken part in the prosecution of the case i.e., he is the real prosecutor. Identical question had come up before the Privy Council in (1908) 18 Mad LJ 394 (PC) and it has been observed thus:

'The principle here laid down is sound enough if properly understood and its application to a particular case was, no doubt, justified, but in the opinion of their Lordships it is not of universal application. In India, the police has special powers in regard to the investigation of criminal charges and it depends very much on the result of their investigation whether or not further proceedings are taken against the person accused. If therefore, a complainant does not go beyond giving what he believes to be correct information to the police and the police without further interference on his part (except giving such honest assistance as they may require) think fit to prosecute, it would be improper to make him responsible in damages for the failure of the prosecution. But if the charge is false to the Knowledge of the complainant, if he misleads the police by bringing suborned witnesses to support it, if he influences the police to assist him in sending an innocent man for trial before the Magistrate it would be equally improper to allow him to escape liability because the prosecution has not technically been conducted by him. The question in all cases of this kind must be who was the prosecutor, and the answer must depend upon the whole circumstances of the case, the mere setting of the law in motion is not the criterion; the conduct of the complaint before and after making the charge must also be taken into consideration. Nor is it enough to say the prosecution was instituted and conducted by the police'.

9. Following the principles laid down by their Lordships of the Privy Council, my learned brother Chandrareddi, J. ax he then was in the case of (1954) 2 Mad LJ (Andh) 189 : ((S) AIR 1955 Andh 218) held that if a person does nothing beyond giving information to the police which he considers to be, true an action for damages for malicious prosecution is not maintainable against him, that if on the other hand besides setting the law in motion he takes an active part in the conduct of the prosecution he will be regarded as the real prosecutor although the actual prosecution is by the police and render himself liable for damages and that the person who gave information to the complainant concocting a case against the plaintiff of murder (of which he was acquitted) cannot be mulcted with damages as they could not be regarded as prosecutors in any sense of the term. The case of (1908) 18 Mad LJ 394 (PC) was accepted by the Privy Council in another case viz., Balabhaddar Singh v. Badri Sah 51 Mad LJ 42 : (AIR 1926 PC 46).

10. A reading of these decisions would go to show that now it can be taken as well established that if a person docs nothing beyond giving information to the police which he considers to be true an action for damages for malicious prosecution would not be maintainable against him. If on the other hand besides setting the law in motion he takes an active part in the conduct of the prosecution he will be regarded as the real prosecutor although the actual prosecution is by the police and render himself liable for damages. The learned counsel for the respondent laid great stress on the following observation of their Lordships in the case, of (1908) 18 Mad LJ 394 (PC).

'But if the charge is false to the knowledge of the complainant, if he misleads the police by bringing suborned witnesses to support it, if he influences the police to assist him in sending an innocent man for trial before the Magistrate..' and contended that it would be highly improper, in such circumstances, to allow the person concerned to escape his liability merely because the prosecution has not technically been conducted by him.

I agree with the learned counsel for the respondent that if it appears from the record that the complaint made by the first defendant was to his knowledge false and if he misled the police by bringing suborned witnesses to support it or if he influenced the police to assist him in sending an innocent man for trial before the Magistrate, it would be highly improper to allow him to escape liability merely because he has not conducted the prosecution. The question therefore that arises is whether there is sufficient material on record in the instant case to hold that the complainant knew that his complaint was false, that he misled the police by bringing suborned witnesses or that he influenced the police to assist him in sending an innocent man for trial. The learned counsel Sri Dasaratharamayya contends that all these things are not necessary and only if it is shown that the complainant knew that the complaint made by him was false, that would be sufficient to fix the liability on him.

I am not prepared to agree with the contention of the learned counsel that merely if it is shown that the complainant had made a false complaint he would be made liable for damages. In order to make him liable apart from that fact, the further facts namely, that he assisted the police in sending an innocent man for trial and that he misled the police by bringing suborned witnesses have to be proved. Even if I were to accept the contention of the learned counsel that if the complainant knew that the complaint was false that would be sufficient to make him liable, the other question that arises is whether in the instant case it has been so proved. Sri Dasaratharamayya the learned counsel for the respondent drawing my attention to a passage in the judgment of the appellate court contended that would go to show that the court did give a finding that the complainant knew that the complaint made by him was a false one. I do not agree with the contention of the learned counsel. The passage relied upon by the learned counsel does not lead to that conclusion.

11. It is next contended by the learned counsel that when the appellant (revision petitioner) has admitted that in the criminal court he made a statement that the plaintiff respondent was not a defaulter and knowing this fact and also when his attention was drawn to a judgment of a civil court still he makes a report describing him as a defaulter that would not only go to show that his report was false, but would also prove his malice. This argument is equally devoid of force.

12. It is no doubt true that in his evidence the first defendant has admitted that in the criminal court he stated that the plaintiff was not a registered pattedar but there is nothing on record to show that at the time when he made the report, he knew that he was not a registered pattedar. On the other hand from his deposition it appears that at the time when he made the report, he was confident that the plaintiff respondent was a registered pattedar.

13. It was further contended that the first defendant was not directed to attach the property of the plaintiff respondent and when he knew that the plaintiff respondent was not a defaulter he could not have attached the properties and make a report against the plaintiff-respondent. When it is conceded by the learned counsel that there is a general notification calling upon the village officers to recover the arrears of revenue, the first defendant who was a revenue inspector was justified in attaching the properties for recovery of the revenue, as ha had to carry out the orders of the higher authorities and it may be that in doing so he may have committed an honest error, I am therefore clear that the plaintiff-respondent has failed to prove that the (revision petitioner-appellant) is the person who prosecuted him and thus liable for damages.

14. Yet another argument was advanced by the learned counsel for the respondent that under the rules of the Madras Rent Recovery Act proceedings could not be taken against a defaulter and when the plaintiff respondent was not a registered pattedar and a defaulter, the revenue officer or the Tahsildar could not have taken any proceedings or attached the property describing him as a defaulter. This argument also has no substance. It is true that under the Madras Rent Recovery Act and the rules, proceedings could only be taken against a defaulter but as discussed above the first defendant has stated in his evidence that the plaintiff respondent is a registered pattedar in some lands and knowing so he attached the properties. In view of this it cannot be said that his action was not justified.

15. In the view I am taking, I cannot agree with the view of the lower court. Second appeal (revision) is therefore allowed, the judgment and decree of the Subordinate Judge, Vijayawada are set aside and the judgment and decree of the trial court are restored. Having regard to the facts of the case there will he no order as to costs in this court.


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