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Union of India (Uoi) Vs. Bhagat Ram - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 446 of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1972All288
ActsRailways Act, 1890 - Sections 77 and 80; Railways (Amendment) Act, 1961; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Sections 21
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi)
RespondentBhagat Ram
Appellant AdvocateV. Swaroop, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.C. Agarwal, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....of all regions responsible suit decreed. - - through the general manager, northern railway was scored out it appears that after the amendment the plaintiff intended to sue the union of india as the owner of the western as well as the northern railways. under the amended section the destination railway administration as well as the one on which the loss took place were liable. the suit could not fail unless failure of justice was proved. for this reason the suit was bound to fail against the western and the central railways. the suit against this railway administration was liable to fail......the goods were delivered to the plaintiff at muzaffarnagar on 24th january, 1961. but the railway administration gave delivery of only 2 bales. one bale was not delivered at all. it was alleged that this bale contained 160 dhoti-jodas worth rupees 1123.17 n. p. the plaintiff served a notice under section 77 of the indian railways act and section 80. civil p. c. on the general manager. northern rail-way. new delhi; and not evoking anyresponse, filed the present suit on 14th august. 1961. the plaint designated the defendant as indian union through the general manager. northern railway. headquarter officer. new delhi. by an amendment the phrase: through the general manager, northern railway was scored out it appears that after the amendment the plaintiff intended to sue the union.....
Judgment:

Satish Chandra, J.

1. This is a defendant's second appeal. It arises out of a suit for recovery of Rs. 1200/- on ground of non-delivery of one bale out of a consignment consisting of three bales of cloth. This consignment was booked at Ahmedabad Railway Station belonging to the Western Railway on 12th January. 1961. for delivery at Muzaffarnagar. The goods were delivered to the plaintiff at Muzaffarnagar on 24th January, 1961. but the Railway Administration gave delivery of only 2 bales. One bale was not delivered at all. It was alleged that this bale contained 160 Dhoti-Jodas worth Rupees 1123.17 N. P. The plaintiff served a notice under Section 77 of the Indian Railways Act and Section 80. Civil P. C. on the General Manager. Northern Rail-way. New Delhi; and not evoking anyresponse, filed the present suit on 14th August. 1961. The plaint designated the defendant as Indian Union through the General Manager. Northern Railway. Headquarter Officer. New Delhi. By an amendment the phrase: through the General Manager, Northern Railway was scored out It appears that after the amendment the plaintiff intended to sue the Union of India as the owner of the Western as well as the Northern Railways.

2. The Union of India contested the suit on a variety of grounds which included that the notices were invalid, that there has been a violation of Section 60 of the Railways Act and pleaded that the suit was liable to be dismissed. It was alleged that the Western or the Northern Railways were not responsible because no loss took place while the goods were being carried by these Railway Administrations. The trial court dismissed the suit principally on the ground that the loss having occurred on the Central Railway, the destination Railway was not responsible to compensate the plaintiff. It held that the amendments introduced to Section 80. Civil P. C. by the Central Amending Act No. 39 of 1961 were not applicable because in the instant case the loss took place prior to the coming into force of the amendment. The notice was also served before that date and the suit was also instituted before the coming into force of the Amendments on 1st January. 1962.

3. The plaintiff went up in appeal and succeeded. The lower appellate court held that the court was entitled to take into consideration the changes in law during the course of the pendency of the suit. Consequently, the amended Section 80 would be applicable. Under the amended section the destination Railway Administration as well as the one on which the loss took place were liable. The Union of India being the owner of all the Railway Administrations involved in the carriage of goods in the present case, the suit was liable to be decreed against the union of India. In the suit the plaintiff was liable to implead only the Union of India and as such the frame of the suit was not defective for not impleading the Central Railway as such. It held that the plaintiff has proved that it suffered loss to the extent of Rs. 1123.17 N. P. and on these findings the appeal was allowed and the suit was decreed for that amount.

4. When the second appeal came up for hearing before a learned single Judge it was urged on behalf of the plaintiff-respondent that the provisions of Section 80 of the Railways Act relate to territorial jurisdiction. i. e. the place of suing and. therefore, by virtue of Section 21, Civil P. C. the suit could not fail unless failure of justice was proved. Reliance was placed upon Chandra Mohan v. Union of India. AIR 1953 Assam 193 (FB). The learned Judge agreed with this submission; but on behalf of the appellant reliance was placed upon the case of Prahlad Rai & Sons v. Union of India, AIR 1967 All 530 in which another learned single Judge of this Court expressed the opinion that the Railway administration other than the administration from where the goods were sent was liable only if it is proved that the loss occurred while the goods were in transit on that particular administration. The learned single Judge felt that tine decision in P. Rai's ease required reconsideration and on that view he referred the case to a larger Bench.

5. The principal question relates to the construction of Section 80 of the Railways Act. However, before we consider this question we may observe that the suit was not maintainable against the Western and Central Railways for lack of notice under Section 77 of the Railways Act. Section 77 of the Railways Act provided that a persons shall not be entitled to a refund or compensation for, inter alia, non-delivery or short delivery, of goods unless he prefers a claim in writing within six months from the date of the delivery of goods. Interpreting Section 77 as it stood prior to the Amending Act. 1961. the Supreme Court in Jetmull Bhojraj v. D. H. Railway, AIR 1962 SC 1879 in paragraph 22, observed:

'Upon the language of Section 77 it would appear that a notice thereunder must be given to every railway administration against whom a suit is eventually filed. No such notice was given by the appellant to the G. I. P. Railway administrator or the E. I. Railway administration or the B. A. Railway administration within six months of booking the consignment and therefore in so far as they are concerned the suit must be held to have been rightly dismissed'.

6. It is thus clear that a notice under Section 77 has to be served upon each Railway administration which is sought to be made liable to pay compensation. In the present case the notice under Section 77 was served on the Northern Railway alone. No such notice was served either on the Western Railway or the Central Railway. For this reason the suit was bound to fail against the Western and the Central Railways. It appears that in the statement under Order 10, Rule 2. Civil P. C. the plaintiff's counsel stated that the plaintiff gives up his claim, as against the Western Railway. The finding of fact recorded by both the courts below is that the loss in the present case occurred while the goods were in transit on the Central Railway administration not the destination namely the Northern Railway.

7. Section 80 of the Railways Act was in the following terms before its amendment in 1961:--

'80. Suit for compensation for injury to through booked traffic. -- Not-withstanding anything in any agreement purporting to limit the liability of a railway administration with respect to traffic while on the railway of another administration, a suit for compensation for loss of the life of, or personal injury to. a passenger, or for loss, destruction or deterioration of animals or goods where the passenger was or the animals or goods were booked through over the railways of two or more railway administrations, may be brought either against the railway administration from which the passenger obtained his pass or purchased his ticket or to which the animals or goods were delivered by the consignor thereof, as the case may be, or against the railway administration on whose railway the loss, injury destruction or deterioration occurred'.

8. The section was repealed and reenacted by the Amending Act of 1961 as follows:--

'80. Suits for compensation-- A suit for compensation for loss of the life of, or personal injury to, a passenger or for loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of animals or goods may be Instituted,--

(a) if the passenger was, or the animals or goods were, booked from one station to another on the railway of the same railway administration, against that railway administration;

(b) if the passenger was or the animals or goods were, booked through over the railway of two or more railway administrations, against the railway administration from which the passenger obtained his pass or purchased his ticket or to which the animals or goods were delivered for carriage, as the case may be, or against the railway administration on whose railway the destination station lies, or the loss, injury, destruction, damage or deterioration occurred;

and in either case, the suit may be Instituted in a Court having jurisdiction over the place at which the passenger obtained his pass or purchased his ticket or the animals or goods were delivered for carriage, as the case may be, or over, the place in which the destination station lies, or the loss, injury, destruction, damage or deterioration occurred'.

9. Section 80 specifies as to which Railway Administration is liable to pay compensation to a person for injury, loss etc., viz. where goods are carried by more than one Railway administration. Under the old section the railway administration upon which the goods were booked or the railway administration where the loss, injury or destruction occurred alone were liable to pay compensation and a suit for compensation could be brought against them only.

10. The destination Railway was not liable merely as such. After the amendment of Section 80, the destination Railway administration was also made liable. This provision dealing with the liability of the railway administration is, in our opinion, a provision relating to substantive law. It is not a provision dealing with procedure of Courts. It has nothing to do with the manner or method of the institution of the suit. After its amendment by the amending Act, 1961 a further provision? in the shape of the last paragraph of Section 80 was added. Under it, provision was made in regard to courts where the suit may be instituted. This new provision may be held to be dealing with the territorial jurisdiction of courts to which Section 21, Civil P. C. may apply; but there was no such provision in the un-amend-ed Section 80. Section 21, Civil P. C. or the principle underlying, hence, could not be made applicable to suits which were governed by the unamended Section 80.

11. We have seen that the old Section 80 was a substantive provision. Its amendment would normally be not retrospective. The Amending Act 39 of 1961 provides that the amendment introduced by that Act would come into force from 1st January, 1962. That would also show that the amendments made by that Act were not retrospective. There is nothing else in the Amending Act from which it could be inferred that the amendments introduced in Section 80 were to operate retrospectively.

12. In the present case the nondelivery took place on 24th January, 1961. The notices were served on the railway administration on 1st May, 1961, and the suit was instituted on 14th August, 1961. The amendments introduced in Section 80 whereunder the Destination Railway became liable came into force on 1st January, 1962. This amendment being prospective would not govern the liability of the railway administration to pay compensation to the plaintiff.

13. The decision of the Full Bench in AIR 1953 Assam 193 only says that in the case of a railway administered by the Government of a State, the suit could be brought against the Government of the State concerned. The manager of the railway administration need not be impleaded as a party. It was observed that the plaint must, on the face of it, state the cause of action as to how and in what capacity the State is sought to be made liable whether as owner of the railway to which the goods were consigned, or as owner of the railway on which the loss occurred or both. Thiscase does not hold that a claimant can get a decree by merely impleading the Union of India. The suit cannot succeed against the Union of India without the mentioned clarification, merely on the ground that the Union of India is the owner of every railway administration involved in the loss or injury. The learned Single Judge in AIR 1967 All 530 (supra) observed that the liability of the railway administration other than the railway administration which received the goods, but through which the goods were to pass arises only when it is proved that the loss occurred on that particular administration. In our opinion, this decision lays down correct law.

14. The loss not having occurred on the Northern Railway and the relevant amendment of Section 80 not being retrospective, that railway administration could not be held liable merely because it was the destination railway. The suit against this railway administration was liable to fail.

15. In the result the appeal succeeds and is allowed. The decree is set aside and the suit is dismissed but in the circumstances of the case the parties may bear their own costs throughout.


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