S.N. Katju, J.
1. This is a plaintiff's appealarising out of a suit for recovery of Rs. 950/- on account of nondelivery of one bale out of a consignment of two bales of cloth which had been booked on 27-8-1952 at Ahmedabad on the Western Railway for delivery to the plaintiff at Farrukhabad on the North Eastern Railway. Only one bale was delivered to the plaintiff and hence it claimed damages for the loss of the other bale.
2. The suit was contested inter alia on the ground that the plaintiff was not entitled to sue.
3. The trial Court dismissed the suit, and its decision was affirmed on appeal by the lower appellate Court.
4. The only question for consideration is whether the plaintiff was tattled to any relict as against the defendant-respondent.
5. The suit was instituted against 'the Union of India, New Delhi, (SIC) through General Manager, North Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur.' It was fully established that notices under Section 77 of the Indian Railways Act and Section 80 of the C. P C had been duly served both on the General Managers of the Western Railway as also or the North Eastern Railway, The plaintiff based its claim on theground that out of the consignment of two bales of cloth, delivery was made of only one bale, and thus it had suffered a loss of Rs. 950/- on account of he non-delivery of the aforesaid one bale of cloth. The plaintiff did not say that the aforesaid bale was lost in transit at any particular place during the course of its carriage from Ahmedabad to Pamikhahad. It was contended on behalf of the respondent that since the Union of India had been impleaded through the North Eastern Railway and the consignment had been booked at Ahmedabad on the Western Railway, the claim could only be decreed if it was established that the loss had occurred within the jurisdiction of the North Eastern Railway. The Court below observed as follows:
'In the case before me the Union of India New Delhi has been impleaded and the service upon the defendant has been made through the General Manager N. E Railway Gorakhpur, Thus it is clear that the plaint on the very face of it shows that the state is sought to be made liable as owner of the destination Railway and not as owner of the booking Railway.'
The Court below found that it had not been proved that the loss occurred while the consignment moved on the N. E. Railway, and as such, the suit against the N. E. Railway could not be decreed.
6. If the consignment was booked at a place within the jurisdiction of one railway administration to a place within the jurisdiction of another railway administration and the plaintiff sued the latter railway administration, then in that case the burden was on the plaintiff to show that the loss occurred within the jurisdiction of the railway administration within whose jurisdiction the place of the delivery was situate. But it the plaintiff sued the railway administration of the place where the consignment had been booked, then it was not necessary for the plaintiff to show that the loss occurred at any particular point of its transit from the place of consignment to the place of its delivery. The question for consideration, therefore, in the present case is whether it could be held that the plaintiff had sued not only the N E. Railway administration but also the Western Railway administration. Both the railway administrations being under the Central Government, the Union of India could represent either or both of them. If only the Union of India was impleaded as the defendant in the present case, it could not be said that the absence of any mention of any particular railway administration in the array of parties could be fatal to e suit The definition of 'railway administration' in Section 3(6) of the Indian Railways Act includes the Government, and. therefore, in the case of railways which are Government-owned, they could sufficiently be represented by the Union of India. In Dominion of India v. Madan Engineering Tool Products (F A. No. 161 of 1950. D/ 21-12-1962 (All)) a Division Bench of this Court held as under
'It is not necessary for a claimant to givenotice of his claim under Section 77 of the RailwaysAct to every administrative zonal unit of the Slate-owned railway in case of through booking and itone (SIC) is given to the railway administrationwhich includes all the zonal units concerned overwhich the goods travelled, Section 77 of the RailwaysAct will have been duly complied with'.
7. In the present case, as has been mentioned, notices under Section 77 of the Indian Railways Act and Section 80 of C. P. C. had been duly served. In Natwarlal Gowaidnandas v. Union of India, AIR 1957 Madh Pra 157 it was observed as follows:
'It is true that in the plaint the Union of India was not described as representing any particular railway administration. The plaint, however, was specific as to the administrations against which the claim was laid. The Union of India was thus aware that it had to defend the actions on behalf of both the railway administrations.
The inference, therefore, is that a suit against the Union of India without impleading the railway administrations, is permissible under law.
All that may be urged is that the plaint should disclose clearly the cause of action against each railway administration. In the present case, the plaint clearly discloses that the plaintiff laid its claim against any one of the two railway administrations which was at fault The contention that the Union of India cannot be made liable for the actions of the B.B.C.I. Railway is not, therefore, tenable.'
8. A contrary view was taken by a Division Bench of Madhya Pradesh in Central India Chemicals Private Ltd. v. Union of India, AIR 1962 Madh Pra 301 where it was held that the failure of the plaintiff 'to implead either of the railways is fatal to his suit.' It appears that the earlier decision in Natwarlal Gowardhandas, AIR 1957 Madh Pra 157 (supra) was not brought to the notice of the Division Bench which decided the latter case.
9. In Ramco Textiles v. Union of India, AIR 1960 Ker 257 a consignment was booked from Cannanore on the Southern Railway to Harinagar on the North Eastern Railway. The goods were lost by the railway administration after they had reached Harinagar. The plaintiff sued for damages on the small cause side of the Court of the Munsif of Cannanore. His suit was laid against 'The Union of India as the owner of the North Eastern Railway represented lay the General Manager, North Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur.' It was held that a suit relating to a railway owned and administered by the Central Government lay against that Government irrespective of the identity of the railway administration whose default gave rise to the cause of action.
10. Thus the mere fact that the plaintiff had mentioned the name of North Eastern Railway through whom service was effected on the Union of India, could not by itself imply that it had given up its claim against the Western Railway administration which bad been duly served under Section 77 of the Indian Railways Act and also under Section 80 of the C. P. C. There is nothing in the body of the plaint to indicate that the plaintiff was fastening liability only on the North Eastern Railway and had given up its claim as against the Western Railway. Its entire claim was based on the loss which had been caused on account of the non-delivery of one out of the two bales which had been consigned at Ahmedabad. The plaintiff never attempted to fix any particular place falling within the course of the transit of the consignment as the place where the loss occurred. It was not its intention to confine the claim only as against the North Eastern railway. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the mere mention of North EasternRailway in the array of parties could not imply that the claim had not been directed as against the Western Railway as well which was properly represented by the Union of India. Thus if the Union of India was also representing the Western Railway, it could not be said that the burden was on the plaintiff to prove the place where the loss occurred. The courts below have found in favour of the plaintiff on the other issues in the case. In this view of the matter, the plaintiff's suit must be decreed.
11. The decree of the Court below is setaside, and the appeal is allowed with costs throughout.