Sanjeeva Row Nayudu, J.
1. This revision petition is directed against the judgment and decree of the District Munsif's Court, Eluru, dated 25th June 1958 in S. C. S. 122/58 on the file of the said Court.
2. The suit out of which this revision has arisen, was filed in the Court below by the respondent in this revision, claiming to recover a sum of Rs. 189.49 nP. dup to him by way of a handlom given by him to the petitioner on 6-5-1957. the handlom itself being in respect of a sum of Rs. 181/- and the rest of the amount claimed, represents interest thereon.
3. The facts of the case may be briefly noticed:-
The respondent was a teacher in the Board High School, Kowali, while the present petitioner is the Headmaster of that High School. It is claimed in the plaint that the petitioner was in the habit of taking handloans from him (respondent) almost every month, repaying the same as and when he received his salary. The respondent could not disregard the request of the petitioner, the former being a subordinate of the latter.
On 9-5-1957, the day on which the salary for the month of April Was due to be disbursed, the petitioner requested the respondent to lend him Rs. 181/- which the plaintiff did by way of allowing the petitioner to retain a sum of Rs. 104/-, due to one Prakasarao, a teacher, as his salary, and in respect whereof a pay order was executed by the said Prakasarao in favour of the respondent, and the remaining amount represented the salary of the respondent himself, for the month of April, which the respondent did not draw, but allowed the Headmaster, the petitioner, to keep with him instead of disbursing it.
Out of the sum of Rs. 184/- which the Petitioner was said to have so retained in his hands, Rs. 3A alone were paid to the respondent, the balance of Rs. 181/- having been kept by the petitioner for his own use. The plaint further averred that on 9-5-1957 the plaintiff made an entry in his account book about the handloan. Subsequently, it is claimed, that as the Payment was not made and the respondent was angious to have some thing in writing as evidence of the handloan, he wanted the petitioner to execute a promissory note, and, in fact, a Promissory note was prepared by one Bhaskara Rao, another co-teacher examined as P. W. 2, for a sum of Rs 200/-, so that, the amount may represent a round figure, the balance of Rs. 19/-having been intended to be paid in cash to the plaintiff as a further loan.
The petitioner, however, put off signing and refused to sign the promissory note. The plaint further alleged that the respondent had raised a dispute about the amount due to him before at least three respectable mediators, whose names were mentioned in the plaint, besides the complaint he made to the District Educational Officer. It is further alleged in the plaint that there are differences between the petitioner and the respondent on account of the respondent's daughter having been detained by the petitioner for want of requisite marks.
4. The petitioner in his written statement, while denying the handloan, averred that there were differences between the petitioner and the respondent, which necessitated the transfer of the respondent from the School. The Petitioner also denied having intentionally or purposely and without justification, detained the daughter of the respondent, instead, he pointed out that the detention was due to the student not making the standard.
5. The learned District Muosit, who tried the suit and examined the evidence, came to the conclusion that the respondent had lent the suit amount by way of a handloan to the Petitioner, and accordingly decreed the suit.
6. The question, for consideration in this revision is whether the judgment of the learned District Munsif can be supported in law and on the evidence available in the case.
7. It may be stated at the outset that there is no direct evidence on the part of the respondent to prove the lending of the money by way of handloan to the petitioner, with the result that while the petitioner swore that he received no handloan the respondent equally vehemently asserted in his evidence that he did give the handloan to the Petitioner. In these circumstances, the decision of the case should rest on the rule of burden of proof under law and also the admitted or proved circumstances in the case.
It is unfortunate that the learned District Munsif did not address himself to the question of burden of proof at all in the course of his lengthy judgment. Firstly, the burden is always on the plaintiff, except in exceptional cases where the law dictates otherwise, to prove his case, and to satisfy the Court that circumstances exist, which entitle him to the decree he seeks. Section 103 of the Evidence Act is clear on the point. In the instant case, as the suit is based on an alleged handloan, the burden is and will be on the plaintiff to make out that the handloan is true, that he did in fact advance, the money representing the loan to the petitioner, on condition of repayment, and that, consequently, he is entitled to recover the money from him. It has, therefore, to be examined whether the respondent had brought forward sufficient evidence on his side to discharge this burden.
As already mentioned, no direct evidence has been adduced by him, as evidence of the handloan having been made. The evidence in support, is more or less circumstantial. But, before consider the circumstantial evidence, it is necessary to notice that the respondent had not put forward a consistent case: for example, in his plaint, he pleaded, that the handloan of Rs. 181/- comprised of the sum of Rs. 104/- payable to one Prakasarao, one of the teachers, as the salary for the month of April, and Rs. 80/- payable to the plaintiff as his salary, and that the money was ready for disbursement on. 9-5-1957, but that the Petitioner prevailed on the respondent to let him have that money, saying that he would repay it the next month whereas in the earlier registered notice issued by the respondent demanding payment, he made no mention of all this at all. The registered notice merely referred to simple handloan having been taken by the petitioner from the respondent. It is, surprising that there should not have been any reference at all to the various details now put forward for the first time in the plaint
8. Now, coming to the evidence of the plaintiff, the case is that the petitioner had already used up the money representing the salaries of the two teachers in question, and that he offered to repay it later on, as may be seen from the sentence quoted:-
'Even before actually taking my salary, the defendant told me that he has used my salary amount and promised to pay in a month.'
These inconsistencies, in my opinion, could not be due to mere inadvertence, and it is unfortunate that the learned District Munsif did not care to notice them at all. Another point to notice is that the respondent in his evidence stated that he had an account book in which he had entered the handloan having been made. If this is true, one would expect the respondent to have produced this nu-count book along with the plaint, as the best written evidence available, as, according to the respondent, the entry was made almost immediately after the handloan was given.
This account book was not produced until during the evidence of the respondent, and the lower Court was quite justified in refusing to receive it at that late stage. As regards the story about the preparation of the promissory note for the petitioner to execute, we have the evidence only of P. W. 3, for P. W. 2's evidence does not go any further-than stating that he was asked to prepare a promissory note at the instance of the respondent and that he did it. In my opinion, Ex. A-2 has absolutely no evidentiary value.
It is an incomplete document, which, according to the respondent, was prepared for the purpose of the execution by the Petitioner, a fact which is totally denied by the petitioner, in his evidence. The other evidence in the case is merely hearsay and does not take us anywhere. The question, therefore, for determination on this evidence is whether the learned District Munsif was justified in coming to the conclusion he did on that evidence.
9. There is no doubt that much love was not lost between the petitioner and the respondent. The respondent suspected that the petitioner was responsible for his transfer to some other school, and he, in turn, had not made any attempt to conceal his antagonistic attitude towards the Petitioner, which is abundantly evidenced by the petitions sent up against the petitioner by the respondent. It is in this peculiar set up that the evidence and the contentions of the parties have to be regarded.
The learned District Munsif had not made a correct approach to the evidence of the witnesses. While accepting the evidence for the petitioner that it was on the petitioner's complaint that the papers valued by P. W. 3 were sent for revaluation to another authority, the learned Dist. Munsif felt that it was not a circumstance sufficient to induce P. W. 3 to give false testimony in the absence of any other circumstance. The learned District Munsif did not judicially appraise and appreciate the evidence of P. W. 3 on its merits.
The correct method of appreciating and assessing the evidence of a witness is by scrutinising the evidence on its merits, and it is only when a doubt arises whether the witness is in fact deposing to the truth or not, that the necessity would arise to investigate into the possible reason for this conduct and what could have motivated the same, such as intimate interest in the person on whose behalf he had come to Court to give evidence, or Strong enmity or ill-will prevailing between the witness and the person against whom he had come to give evidence.
Courts should not start with the investigation of these reasons without first making an impartial and judicious appreciation of the evidence of the witness on its own merits. The evidence of P. W. 3, as already pointed out, is in the nature of hearsay. He deposed to the petitioner giving Rs. 3/- to the plaintiff and that at that time he heard the petitioner telling the respondent that he had used Rs. 181/- of his for certain urgent purposes and that he would give him later.
When this evidence was tested by cross-examination, the witness had to admit that he did not know what amounts were paid by the petitioner to the respondent as regards the Pay-order amounts, and that there were some pay orders. In the nature of things, the evidence of this witness is incredible. Assuming that the petitioner had used up the respondent's money, 'it would be most unnatural to expect the petitioner to make an open admission of it to be heard by various other teachers, particularly by P. W. 3, who on his own showing, had a grudge against him. I have no hesitation in totally discrediting the evidence of this witness, which, even at best, is most inconclusive and does not in any way advance the case of the respondent.
The other evidence in the case is hardly worth noticing as the evidence is not relevant to the matters in issue in these proceedings, P. W. 4 merely deposed that he saw the unexecuted promissory note Ex. A-2 with the respondent. The evidence of P. W. 6 is to the effect that the Petitioner denied that he owed anything to the respondent. Considering the entire evidence adduced for and on behalf of the respondent, I am not satisfied that the respondent had made out that he in fact made a handloan, of the amount now claimed, to the petitioner and that he had not discharged the burden which was on him to establish the truth of the handloan and his entitlement to get a decree for the amount covered by it.
10. Mr. Bala Surya, Rao, the learned counsel for the respondent, contended that the jurisdiction of this Court in dealing with a revision under Section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, hereinafter referred to as the Act, is considerably restricted, that a revision under Section 25 of the Act is not to be disposed of in the same manner as a first appeal preferred to the High Court under the Civil Procedure Code, and that a re-appreciation of the evidence is not contemplated under law in regard to the disposal of a revision under Section 25 of the Act. In support of this contention, he Placed reliance on two decisions, one reported in Re; Ganapathi Pillai, 1912 Mad WN 181 and the other reported in Duraiswami Nadar v. Sivanupandia Nadar, AIR 1944 Wad 181. In the former case, which is a judgment of a single Judge, which is barely half a column in extent, the following observation is relied on:-
'It is stated that this Conclusion is entirely opposed to the evidence but I have no power to interfere even if that be so.'
No reasons whatsoever have been given by the learned Judge, nor is there any discussion found in the case. Even the facts of the decision are not fully stated. Apparently, the matter was disposed of in the stage of admission. Such ipse dixits in casual orders of Courts passed in a summary disposal, of matters, such as, at the stage of admission, are hardly of any assistance to judges in deciding cases on their merits. It is not understood why this decision had been reported at all.
The latter case is that of a Division Bench of the Madras High Court, and all that that case lays down is that the High Court under Section 25 of the Act cannot constitute itself a Court of appeal, and that the section did not allow the Court to review evidence as if it were a Court of appeal. I have no quarrel with the above proposition, for, in small cause matters, there is no right of appeal and so there can be no question of any Proceedings of a higher Court being equated to proceedings in appeal.
The Proceedings before the Division Bench were directed against the order of Horwill, J., in revision under Section 25 of the Act, and, as an the finding of that learned Judge a receipt produced in the case had been forged, an application was made to order prosecution under Sec, 476, Criminal Procedure Code, which application was granted, and it is against the order granting the application to prosecute under Section 476 Cr, P. C. that the appeal before the Division Bench came up for hearing. Obviously, the only point that their Lordships had to consider in that case was whether the order of Horwill, J., in directing the lodging of a complaint was justifiable or not.
Their Lordships held that although no letters patent appeal lay in regard to the decision under Section 25 of the Act, they felt that an appeal lay against the order directing prosecution as, according to the learned Judges, Horwill, J., constituted a subordinate Court within the meaning of Section 195(3) Criminal procedure Code. This case, therefore, is not directly in Point, for the question of the scope of discussion of Section 25 of the Act came up for consideration ns a side issue.
In any view of the matter, all that the decision laid law', as already pointed out, is that there is a difference between the scope of the proceedings under Section 25 of the Act and of a regular first appeal, and that both cannot be equated. As already pointed out, I have no reason to quarrel with this proposition. For, at is too much to contend that when the act 'gives no right of appeal, but only an application for a 'revision', to the High. Court, that revision could be equated to a first appeal to the High Court. In the nature of things, it cannot.
But this decision does not lay down the scope of the investigation by the High Court under Section 25 of the Act. While stating that the High Court had no right to reverse on questions of fact, unless the trial Court had given a perverse judgment or had overlooked essential evidence in the case, which presupposes that the evidence has to be gone into, examined and assessed, in order to determine whether essential evidence has been left out of consideration, this decision Proceeds on the assumption that a review of the evidence is contemplated under Section 25 of the Act, and this conclusion, is inevitable if the observation of the learned Judges should be viewed with any seriousness.
11. Section 25 of the Act is in the following terms:-
'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 order with respect thereto as it thinks fit.'
What the section contemplates is that when the High Court takes action under Section 25 or in cases where the jurisdiction of the High Court is invoked under that section, the purpose is that the High Court should satisfy itself that a decree or order made in the case decided by the Court of Small Causes was according to law. The question that falls to be determined is: when can a decree or order be said to be in accordance with law? It is not difficult to enumerate the cases covered by the section. Clear cases may be catalogued : These are:-
(1) Where the decision of the Small Causes Court is not based on any evidence;
(2) Where the decision is based on an erroneous and improper appreciation of the evidence on record, amounting to a gross misappreciation of the evidence;
(3) Where the decision is based on evidence which no reasonable man, would, on consideration of the same, come to the conclusion reached by the learned Small Causes Court Judge;
(4) Where the decision is based on an erroneous view of the law;
(5) Where the decision is based, ignoring the rules as to burden of proof; and without drawing I the presumptions required to be drawn by law.
12. This list is by no means exhaustive. There may be other cases, where interference may be justified on similar or equally strong grounds. The only observation that could be made in this connection as regards (Re restraint on the powers of the High Court, exercising jurisdiction under this section, is that it may not be open to the High Court to interfere with the finding of fact reached by the Court of Small Causes, merely because it, on an appreciation of the evidence, takes a different view. Such a right is, of course open to the High Court in a first appeal, but not in a revision under section 25 of the Act.
13. Bearing these above principles in mind. I have no hesitation whatsoever in holding that the judgment and decree given by the learned District Munsif are clearly unsustainable in law, and that the finding of fact reached by him is undoubtedly, on a careful consideration of the evidence, perverse and calls for interference. In the result, this revision petition is allowed. The judgment and decree of the Court below are set aside and the suit directed to be dismissed with costs throughout.