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Shanti Prasad Gupta Vs. State of U.P. and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 2409 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1973All28
ActsUttar Pradesh Land Revenue Act; Uttar Pradesh Sales Tax Act; Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act
AppellantShanti Prasad Gupta
RespondentState of U.P. and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA.B. Saran, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....filed suit against the state for recovery - held, state not explicitly liable as collection of sales tax is a sovereign function. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised by any such board comparable to the divisional board or the state board. the school tribunal constituted under section 8 of the maharashtra act cannot entertain appeals filed under section 9 by the employees working in schools..........had the authority to issue warrant of arrest for collection of the sales tax dues as an arrear of land revenue and that mohd. irfan was authorised to execute such a warrant and arrest the person concerned. it cannot also be disputed that collection of land revenue or any other dues recoverable as land revenue is the sovereign power of the state. a machinery is prescribed by statute for collection of land revenue or any other government dues which are under a statutory provision recoverable as an arrear of land revenue. the u. p. sales tax act provides for recovery of arrears of sales tax as an arrears of land revenue. certain public servants under the provisions of the u. p. land revenue act or the u. p. zamindari abolition and land reforms act are empowered to take action for the.....
Judgment:

T.S. Misra, J.

1. This is plaintiff's appeal. He had filed a suit for the recovery of Rs. 500/- as damages against the State of U. P. and two others. The defendant No. 2 was the Naib Tahsildar, Tahsil Sadar Rampur and the defendant No. 3 was the then Sales Tax Officer, Rampur. The trial Court decreed the suit for Rs. 100/- against the State of U. P. and dismissed it against the defendants Nos. 2 and 3 on the ground that the claim against them was barred by time. The State of U. P. preferred an appeal from the said decree. The appellate Court below allowed the appeal and set aside the decree passed against the State. Thus the entire suit stood dismissed. Aggrieved, the plaintiff has come to this Court in the second appeal.

2. The only point of law urged before me was that the State was vicariously liable for the tort committed by its employees in due course of their employment and the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Kasturi Lal Ralia Ram Jain v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1965 SC 1039 were not applicable to the instant case. This submission has no merits.

3. In the suit giving rise to this appeal the plaintiffs had alleged that on 26-12-1959 he was wrongly arrested by a Sales Tax Amin on the strength of a warrant issued by the Tahsildar, the defendant No. 2, in connection with the recovery of arrears of sales tax for the year 1957-58. He protested against the arrest contending that he had already paid up the entire sales tax dues for the year 1957-58 and nothing was outstanding against him towards the same. He was, however, kept in the lock-up till 4 P.M. and subjected to greatest humiliation and inconvenience. He, therefore, claimed damages to the tune of Rs. 500/- in the suit. The suit was resisted by all the defendants who filed their separate written statements. The defendants Nos. 2 and 3, inter alia, pleaded that the claim against them was barred by time. This plea found favour with the trial Court and the suit against the defendants Nos. 2 and 3 was dismissed. It, however, appeared from the evidence that the plaintiff had to pay a sum of Rs. 1445/36 towards sales tax for the year 1957-58 Exs. 2 and 4. The plaintiff had paid up this amount in instalments on different dates between 28-7-1958 and 30-3-1959. However, on a report of the Sales Tax Amin dated 19-12-1959, Ex. 5 for issue of a warrant for arrest for the realisation of the sales tax dues for (sic) the issue of a warrant. Consequently a warrant of arrest Ex. 1 was issued showing the arrears of Rs. 875/- for the said period. Ultimately the plaintiff was arrested on 26-12-1959. The trial Court decreed the suit against the State on the ground that it was vicariously liable for the tort committed by its employees but it dismissed the suit against the defendants Nos. 2 and 3 as the claim against them was barred by time. The appellate Court below relying upon the case of Kasturi Lal Ralia Ram (supra) dismissed the suit against the State also.

4. In Kasturi Lal's case (supra) the Supreme Court laid down that:

'There is a material distinction between acts committed by the servants employed bythe State where such acts are referable to the exercise of sovereign powers delegated to public servants, and acts committed by public servants which are not referable to the delegation of any sovereign powers. If a tortious act is committed by a public servant and it gives rise to a claim for damages, the question to ask is: was the tortious act committed by the public servant in discharge of statutory functions which are referable to, and ultimately based on, the delegation of the sovereign powers of the State to such public servant? If the answer is in the affirmative, the action for damages for loss caused by such tortious act will not lie. On the other hand, if the tortious act has been committed by a public servant in discharge of duties assigned to him not by virtue of the delegation of any sovereign power, an action for damages would lie.'

5. In the instant case the tortious act was committed by certain employees of the State in connection with the recovery of the alleged sales tax dues. It was not disputed that the defendant No. 2 in his capacity as Tahsildar had the authority to issue warrant of arrest for collection of the sales tax dues as an arrear of land revenue and that Mohd. Irfan was authorised to execute such a warrant and arrest the person concerned. It cannot also be disputed that collection of land revenue or any other dues recoverable as land revenue is the sovereign power of the State. A machinery is prescribed by statute for collection of land revenue or any other Government dues which are under a statutory provision recoverable as an arrear of land revenue. The U. P. Sales Tax Act provides for recovery of arrears of sales tax as an arrears of land revenue. Certain public servants under the provisions of the U. P. Land Revenue Act or the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act are empowered to take action for the recovery of land revenue or such other dues which are recoverable as an arrear of land revenue in the prescribed manner. It is their statutory function which is referable to and ultimately based on the delegation of the sovereign power of the State. The State can plead an immunity in regard to the tortious act of the subordinate officers on the ground that the function involved is a sovereign function. When a tortious act is committed by a public servant in discharge of statutory functions which are referable to or based on the delegation of the sovereign powers of the State to him, no action for damages will lie against the State.

6. Applying these principles to the present case I find that the State of U. P. could not be held liable for the tortious acts of the defendants Nos. 2 and 3 and the claim for damages against the State was not sustainable,

7. It is rather unfortunate that the plaintiff could not succeed against the defendant No. 2 on the ground that the claim against him was barred by time. His actionWas totally unjustified. The plaintiff was arrested for no fault of his. The sales tax for the year 1957-58 had been paid up by him long before the issuance of the warrant and there was no justification for taking coercive action against him and keeping him in lock-up.

8. In the result, this appeal fails and is accordingly dismissed. In the circumstances of the case the parties shall bear their own costs throughout.


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