1. This is a defendant's appeal. The facts which have led up to it are to a certain extent not disputed. The plaintiff Mathura Prasad pawned three ornaments in Kartika Sambat 1885. He pawned them through his agent, the defendant No. 2, to one Manni Ram for Rs. 1,000. The loan carried interest at Rs. 0-14-0 per cent, per mensem. Manni Ram in his own turn Sub-pledged the ornaments to the defendant No. 3. Subsequently, two of the three ornaments so Sub-pledged were redeemed and were again Sub-pledged with the defendant No. 4. The plaintiff paid two items of Rs. 800 and Rs. 500 to the original pawnee, Manni Ram.
As a portion of the debt remained unpaid he did not get back the ornaments. Then the Debt Redemption Act came into force and under it the amount of the loan got reduced because the plaintiff was an agriculturist. The debt got reduced to such an extent that the payment already made by the plaintiff satisfied it. The plaintiff, therefore, sued to recover possession of the three ornaments after redemption and contended that he was entitled to do so without the payment of any amount.
He said that he was not bound by the Sub-pledges made to the defendants Nos. 3 and 4 and as the original debt had been satisfied he was entitled to get the ornament No. 1 mentioned in the plaint from the defendant No. 3 and the other two ornaments from the defendant No. 4. The suit was contested by all the defendants but we are not concerned now with the defences put forward by the original pawnee, the agent through whom the pawn was made and the defendant No. 4.
The main defence raised by the present appellant, who was defendant No. 3, were that he was not a sub-pawnee but was a transferee in good faith, that the claim was barred by time and that the plaintiff was not entitled to get back the ornament that was lying with him because he was not the person who had really pawned it.
2. All these defences and those raised by the other defendants were negatived by the trial Court which accepted the plaintiff's case and decreed the suit. Defendants Nos. 3 and 4 went up in appeal, and the Civil Judge who heard the appeal dismissed it holding that the plaintiff had really made the pawn, that he was entitled to redeem, that the Suit was within time and that the defendants. Nos. 3 and 4 being sub-pawnees were bound to return the ornaments after the original debt had been satisfied. The plaintiff and the other defendants submitted to the decree, but the defendant No. 3 came up in second appeal.
In that appeal he raised only two contentions. One was that the plaintiff's suit should not have been decreed because it was not within time and the other was that the plaintiff could not in any case get back the ornament that was lying with the defendant No. 3 without paying the amount due to him for the Security of which ornament had been pledged to him. Both these contentions were negatived by the learned single Judge who dismissed the appeal but granted leave to appeal under the Letters Patent. This appeal is the result.
3. The plea of limitation has not been pressed before us and the decision of the learned single Judge about that plea must therefore be held to have become final. The only question which the learned counsel for the appellant has argued before us is that the appellant before us could have either of two capacities. Either he was a sub-pledgee of the ornament that was in his possession or he was transferee of the pledgee rights of the original pledgee, Manni Ram. In either case the plaintiff could not get the ornament that was lying with him (appellant) without paying the amount which he had advanced on its security.
4. The appellant's contention that he was a transferee of the rights of Manni Ram or that he was a transferee in good faith has been negatived by all the Courts consistently and they have further held that he was really a sub-pledgee. In view of this finding it is difficult to accept the appellant's contention that his position is not that of a Sub-pledgee and that he is really a transferee of the pawnee rights of Manni Ram in good faith. We must proceed on the footing that he is really a Sub-pledgee.
5. So far as a sub-pledgee is concerned, the law admits of no doubt. Section 179 of the Indian Contract Act makes it clear that if a person with a limited interest in goods pledges them, the pledge is valid to the extent of that interest only. The principle enacted in this section is a well-established principle of common law which has been stated by Judge Story in his book on 'Bailments', Sections 324-327 in these words:
'The pawnee may by the common law deliver over the pawn to a stranger for safe custody without consideration; or he may sell or assign all his interest in the pawn; or he may convey the same interest conditionally, by way of pawn, to another person, without in either case destroying or invalidating his security. But if the pawnee should undertake to pledge the property (not being negotiable securities) for a debt beyond his own, or to make a transfer thereof as if he were the actual owner, it is clear that in such case he would be guilty of a breach of trust, and his creditor would acquire no title beyond that held by the pawnee.
Whatever doubt may be indulged in, in the case of a mere factor, it has been decided in the case of a strict pledge, that if the pledgee transfers the same to his own creditor the latter may hold the pledge until the debt of the original owner is discharged.'
If, therefore, Manni Ram Sub-pledged to the appellant the ornaments which the plaintiff had pledged to him, Manni Ram having only a limited interest in them the pledge was valid only to the extent of the interest which Manni Ram himself possessed in the ornament. In other words, Manni Ram could not give to the appellant rights superior to those of his own. The only right he had in the ornaments was to retain them as Security for the satisfaction of the loan which he had himself advanced.
If this right of his came to an end on the satisfaction of his debt, the appellant could not claim a higher right simply because he had advanced a larger amount to Manni Ram on the security of the ornaments. Once, therefore, the debt of Manni Ram was satisfied the plaintiff who was the original pawner became entitled to get back the ornaments without payment of any further amount. The appellant could not fix upon him the liability for the larger amount which he had himself advanced to Manni Ram.
6. The learned single Judge was, therefore, quite justified in rejecting the appellant's contention that the plaintiff was not entitled to get back the ornament in the appellant's possession without paying to him the amount which he had himself advanced to Manni Ram.
7. The learned counsel also urged that the decree in this case needed clarification because a joint decree had been passed against defendants Nos. 3 and 4. This does not appear to be correct. In the relief of the plaint it had been made clear that ornament No. 1 was being sought to be recovered from defendant No. 3 and the other two ornaments therein described were to be recovered from the defendant No. 4. This is the relief which has been granted to the plaintiff. In the circumstances no joint decree can be said to have been passed against respondents Nos. 3 and 4. No question of any clarification of the decree, therefore, arises.
8. The only point pressed in appeal beingthus without force, the appeal must fail. Itis dismissed with costs.