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Lakshmiji Sugar Mills Co. Ltd., Maholi Vs. Banwari Lal Tandon - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 73 of 1954
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All546
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 6, Rule 17 - Order 7, Rule 2 - Order 20, Rule 16; Contract Act, 1872 - Sections 213; Limitation Act, 1908 - Schedule - Articles 61 and 89
AppellantLakshmiji Sugar Mills Co. Ltd., Maholi
RespondentBanwari Lal Tandon
Appellant AdvocateD.P. Khare, Standing Counsel, ;B.K. Dhaon and ;A.P. Agarwal, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateNiamatullah Inayatullah and ;Bijai Shankar, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
(i) civil - suit for recovery and accounts - order 7 rule 2 and order 20 rule 16 of code of civil procedure, 1908 - distinction between suit for account and suit for money - suit for money state the precise amount and suit for account is for unsettled sum - held, plaint as suit for accounts. (ii) amendment of plaint - order 6 rule 17 of code of civil procedure, 1908 - amendment of plaint seeking fundamental change - held, not allowed. - - but above all his contention was that the learned trial judge had no jurisdiction to allow amendment of the plaint as the nature of the suit was being altered and even if the trial court had jurisdiction it was wholly inappropriate in the circumstances of the case to allow the amendment as there were no exceptional circumstances to justify depriving.....b.n. nigam, j. 1. banwari lal tandon filed regular suit no. 51 of 1951 against messrs. the lakshmiji sugar mills co. limited, maholi, district sitapur, claiming the following reliefs : (a) a decree for full and true account of commission due to the plaintiff. (b) decree for rs. 5,250 : 00 np. or such other further amount as may be found due to the plaintiff on rendition of details on which additional court-fee will be paid. (c) interest at six per cent. per annum until payment. (d) costs of the suit. 2. the plaintiff alleged that about the middle of january 1948 the defendant company's managing director, kishori lal, had a talk with the plaintiff at plaintiff's residence to induce him to work as defendant's representative to secure government contracts for the supply of sugar to.....
Judgment:

B.N. Nigam, J.

1. Banwari Lal Tandon filed regular suit No. 51 of 1951 against Messrs. The Lakshmiji Sugar Mills Co. Limited, Maholi, district Sitapur, claiming the following reliefs :

(a) A decree for full and true account of commission due to the plaintiff.

(b) Decree for Rs. 5,250 : 00 nP. or such other further amount as may be found due to the plaintiff on rendition of details on which additional court-fee will be paid.

(c) Interest at six per cent. per annum until payment.

(d) Costs of the suit.

2. The plaintiff alleged that about the middle of January 1948 the defendant company's Managing Director, Kishori Lal, had a talk with the plaintiff at plaintiff's residence to induce him to work as defendant's representative to secure Government contracts for the supply of Sugar to various Government departments, and the plaintiff acted as the defendant company's agent and broker from the middle of January 1948 up to end of January 1949. The plaintiff was promised a commission of rupee one per bag on all contracts secured with Government departments or railway authorities. This commission was to include all expenses incurred by the plaintiff in running about and securing the contracts.

The plaintiff worked for the defendant and secured the four contracts mentioned in paragraph 3 of the plaint. The plaintiff further alleged that he was not in possession of details of the contracts which are all in possession of the defendant. The defendant, despite requests, has neither rendered accounts nor paid money due in spite of promises. The plaintiff tentatively fixed the relief at Rs. 5,250: 00 nP. The cause of action arose between February 1948 and January 1949 when the various contracts were secured by the plaintiff. The suit was instituted on 16-4-1951. Some of the contractswere beyond the period of three years' limitation, and the plaintiff claimed that these were within limitation due to acknowledgments dated 24-3-1949 and 23-4-1949. Payments made have been appropriated in priority of time.

3. The first written statement was filed on 24-5-1951. The defendant admitted that plaintiff had been' appointed agent but asserted that the1 agreement had been arrived at Maholi and the plaintiff had acted as agent only from February 1948 to December 1948. The rate of commission was only -/8/- per cent. In paragraph 4 it was asserted that the defendant was not bound to render accounts. It was claimed that A sum of Rs. 7703/15/- was due to defendant from the plaintiff.

4. On 19-7-1951 the following issues were framed :

1. Was the contract made at Lucknow?

2. Was it agreed that the payment was to be made at Lucknow?

3. What were the terms of the contracts and brokerage or commission as the case may be?

4. In which of the transactions alleged is the plaintiff entitled to accounting?

5. To what relief is the plaintiff entitled? The learned Civil Judge further directed 'in the first instance the case will proceed to the stage of a decree for preliminary accounts and the terms for it. Final decree shall be prepared later.'

5. On 30-11-1951 an application seeking to amend the written statement was filed. It was pointed out that the plaintiff, alleging himself to be an agent, had brought a suit for accounts, that such a suit was not maintainable and that inadvertently the plea of non-maintainability of the suit was not taken in the written-statement. The defendant, therefore, sought to add a new paragraph 10A urging 'that an agent is not entitled in law to sue his principal for account; hence the present suit is not maintainable.' The amendment was allowed and a further issue No. 6 was framed which is to the following effect :

'6. Is an agent not entitled to sue his principal for account? If so, its effect?

This remained the position between the parties and evidence was led. The defence evidence was closed on 31-7-1952 and 2-8-1952 was fixed for arguments. On that date the arguments could not be taken up due to a sessions trial and the hearing, was adjourned to 8-8-1952. Arguments were heard in part and 11-8-1952 was fixed for further arguments. On the date an implication for amendment was moved. The plaintiff submitted that under the circumstances he wag entitled to sue for accounts and alternately relief (b) in paragraph 7 of the plaint was for a specific amount.

He alleged that as the defendant had filed statements of transactions (which had been filed on 19-7-1951) and after the documents from the Government of India had been filed (these had been filed on 28-9-1951), the plaintiff was in a position to state the exact amount which comes to Rs. 54,808/-and expressed his willingness to pay additional court-fee. He also prayed that in order to set the controversy on issue No. 6 at rest and in the interest of justice it was necessary that the plaint be allowed to be amended so as to claim a specific amount. The plaintiff, however, undertook that he would not lead any further evidence.

6. The application was opposed. Arguments were heard and 21-8-1952 was fixed for orders on this application. On 21-8-52, 25-8-1952 was fixed for orders, and on 25-8-1952 the learned Civil Judge found it necessary to hear further arguments. How-ever, the order allowing the amendment applicationwas not passed till 15-9-1952. The learned Civil Judge after narrating the plaint allegations stated that the defendant had challenged in the suit not only the rate of the commission but also the number of the contracts secured by the plaintiff and the quantity supplied thereunder. He concluded :

1. It was impossible for the plaintiff to secure full and exact information of the supplies made by defendant under the various contracts secured by the plaintiff for the defendant.

2. Therefore, the plaintiff filed suit for accounts.

3. In the course of the trial the plaintiff has' managed to obtain material for claiming a definite amount.

4. Circumstances justify permission being accorded to amend the plaint. He further held :

1. That the nature of the suit would not be changed as the suit, as originally framed, was not only for account but on accounts.

2. That the circumstances justified disregardingthe bar of limitation.

He, however, put the plaintiff on terms and allowed amendment on payment of Rs. 300/-. as costs as the plaintiff's suit, as framed, would afford the defendant an opportunity to get the suit probably dismissed on the technical ground covered by issue No. 6.

7. The issues were amended and the issues as finally framed were :

1. Was the contract made at Lucknow?

2. Was it agreed that the payment was to be made at Lucknow?

3. What are the terms of the contract and brokerage or commission as the case may be?

4. Is the claim or any part of it barred by time?

5. To what amount, if any, is the plaintiff entitled from defendant?

6. Is the suit beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the court?

8. The learned Civil Judge held that the contract between the parties was made at Maholi and not at Lucknow, that there was no agreement as to the place of payment, but the plaintiff desired payment at Lucknow and further because the debtor must find the creditor, he had jurisdiction to hear and decide the suit. He also held that the remuneration to the plaintiff accrued on his securing the order and that the plaintiff was also entitled to remuneration on the contract mentioned in paragraph 3(d) of the plaint which was the only contract in dispute.

He further held that the rate settled was Re. 1/- per bag and that only Rs. 4000/- were paid to the plaintiff. He did not give any finding if a further sum of Rs. 10,000/- had been paid to the plaintiff as the plea regarding that amount was not urged in the second written statement consequent on the amendment being allowed. The learned Civil Judge accordingly decreed the plaintiff's suit for Rs. 54,808/- with pendente lite and future interest at three per cent per annum and the costs of the suit. Against that judgment and decree the defendants, Messrs. The Lakshmiji Sugar Mills Co. Limited, Maholi district Sitapur, has filed this appeal challenging the whole of the decree.

9. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties.

10. The learned counsel for the defendant has urged that it was the common case of the parties that the plaintiff was the agent of the defendant company and had secured contracts for the supply of sugar to the Government departments. There is, however, dispute as to the terms. The defendant'scontention was that no amount became due to the plaintiff on his merely securing, the contracts but the amount became due only when contract had been executed. There was also a dispute as to whether the plaintiff was entitled to commission at Re l/-per bag or eight annas per cent of the price which would work out approximately to seven anna's per bag. There is dispute as to the duration of the contract. The defendant's contention is that the period of agency was only from February 1948 to the last day of the year 1948 thus excluding January 1948 and the whole of January 1949. The learned counsel also stated that he would challenge the trial court's findings as to whether the fourth contract (paragraph 3 (d) of the plaint) had been obtained through the plaintiff's agency.

But above all his contention was that the learned trial Judge had no jurisdiction to allow amendment of the plaint as the nature of the suit was being altered and even if the trial court had jurisdiction it was wholly inappropriate in the circumstances of the case to allow the amendment as there were no exceptional circumstances to justify depriving the defendant of the plea of limitation. The circumstances and the stage at which the amendment was allowed have already been stated earlier. We have heard learned counsel only as regards amendment.

11. The points urged by the learned counsel for the appellant in brief are :

1. That the plaintiff being an agent was not in law entitled to maintain the suit as it was for accounts.

2. That all the essential facts enabling the plaintiff to sue for a specific sum were within the knowledge of the plaintiff.

3. That the Court had no jurisdiction to allow the amendment as it changed the nature of the suit and that the finding of the learned Civil Judge on this point is incorrect.

4. That even if the court had jurisdiction to allow the amendment the exrcise of the court's discretion was inappropriate in the circumstances of the case and there was no special circumstances justifying the court's depriving the defendant from pleading the bar of limitation.

12. The contentions of the learned counsel for the plaintiff, in brief, are :

1. That the suit as originally framed was not one for accounts but a suit for a decree of specific sum found due on accounts being taken and hence the suit was maintainable.

2. That in the alternative, if it be held that the suit as originally framed was for accounts, the plaintiff was in the circumstances of the case entitled to maintain the suit.

3. That the court had full power and jurisdiction to allow the amendment particularly a3 it was necessarv to determine the real dispute between the parties.

4. That the amendment being within the discretion of the court, the appellate court should not in the particular circumstances; interfere with the exercise of that discretion.

13. We will now proceed to examine the contentions of the parties. The learned counsel for the plaintiff has urged that the plaintiff did actually pray for a decree for a specific amount. The last sentence in paragraph four of the original plaint reads :

'The plaintiff tentatively fixes the amount due to him from the defendant at Rs. 52.50/'

The plaintiff also claimed a decree for Rs. 5,250/-or such other sum as may be found due to the plaintiff on rendition of details. The argument of thelearned counsel for the plaintiff is that the plaintiff had claimed a decree for a specific amount. On the other hand, it has been urged before us by the learned counsel for the appellant that this was not so. What the plaintiff had actually done was that he had estimated the amount that would be due to him on accounting for he had to give a tentative valuation of the suit. Order VII, Rule 2 reads as follows :

'Where the plaintiff seeks the recovery of money, the plaint shall state the precise amount claimed :

But where the plaintiff sues for mesne profits, or for an amount which will be found due to him on taking unsettled accounts between him and the defendant, the plaint shall state approximately amount used for.'

It is clear that in a suit for recovery of money the plaintiff has to state the precise amount and in the case of a suit for money to be found due on talcing unsettled accounts the plaintiff has to state the approximate amount. As stated above, the plaintiff fixed the amount at Rs. 5,250/- only tentatively. He did not in the plaint state that this was the precise amount due to him. He should, if he was suing for the precise amount, have mentioned that amount precisely and not tentatively in the plaint though he may have subsequently submitted an application for amendment of that particular statement in the plaint. The proceedings on the date of the issues also make this clear. The issues were struck on 19-7-1951 and then the learned Civil Judge clearly stated :

'In the first instance the case will proceed to the stage of a decree for preliminary accounts and the terms for it. Final decree shall be prepared later.'

From this it is clear that the Court understood the suit to be one for accounts, for in a suit for a precise amount of money no question of a preliminary decree or its terms arises. It is clear that not only the learned Civil Judge but also the parties understood the suit to be one for accounts. There was no objection to the direction that only preliminary decree would be prepared. The plaintiff clearly knew what shape the proceedings were taking and there was no protest by him. That was so only because the plaintiff was suing not for a precise amount but for accounts. No other conclusion is possible. It is, therefore, not possible to urge that the plaintiff sued for a precise amount.

14. The next contention of the learned counsel for the plaintiff is that it was not a suit for account but a suit for a specific sum, the specific sum to be ascertained on accounts being taken between the parties,. The learned counsel has correctly pointed out that Order XX Rule 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides for a preliminary decree not only in suits for account but also 'in any other suit ..... where it is necessary, in order to ascertain the amount of money due to or from any party, that an account should be taken.'

The argument is that the mere fact that the learned Civil Judge directed on 19-7-1951 the suit to proceed to the stage of a preliminary decree and the plaintiff assented to the course is no indication of the fact that the plaintiff conceded that the suit was for accounts & not for a sum to be ascertained after accounting. The learned counsel urges that the two suits are entirely different as in the former the defendant is saddled with the responsibility of rendering and explaining the accounts, while in the latter there is no such liability and the court or the commissioner merely goes through the accounts produced before it (or him) by either, party and ascertains the amount due to either party.

15. He has relied on the phraseology used in Mulomal Khemchand v. Tarachand Dassumal, AIR 1936 Sind 9,

'The first appellate court dismissed the suit on two grounds:

(1) that the suit should have been filed on an account; and not for an account; and

(2) that the suit was barred by limitation. Now, there can be no doubt that the first appellate Court was right in its finding on issue 1.'

16. Firm Bhawani Sahai Salig Ram v. Chhajju Mal : AIR1937All276 does not further the argument of the learned counsel inasmuch as that was a suit by a principal and the decision only lays down that in a principal's suit for accounts a decree may be passed in favour of the agent if money is in fact found due to him.

17. Ramchandra Madhavadoss Co. v. Moidun-kutti Birankutti and Bros. AIR 1938 Mad 707 however, fully bears out the contention of the learned counsel. It was therein held:

'It does not mean that whenever accounts have to be looked into in order to ascertain the amount due by one party to the other that the suit should be technically called a suit for accounts. .'

18. The learned counsel is, therefore, right in urging that from the fact that a preliminary decree was to be framed, no positive conclusion as to the nature of the suit can be drawn. That however does not further the contention of the learned counsel. We have to look at the allegations in the plaint. In paragraph 4 the plaintiff clearly stated that the defendant had in spite of repeated requests by the plaintiff neither rendered the account nor paid money in spite of promises. The plaintiff also wanted a decree for full and true account of commission due to the plaintiff. He did not purport to claim a specific sum and reserve to himself the right to seek an amendment praying for a decree for a larger sum should the accounts when taken disclose that the plaintiff was entitled to a larger amount. In AIR 1936 Sind 9 (supra) it was pointed out:

'The plaintiff knew or could have known what was the state of accounts between Lahnibhai and the defendant, and that even if he did not know how much was due to Lahnibhai, it was open to him to have sued on an account valuing his relief at Rs. 3000/- or even more if he so wished.'

On 30-11-1951 an additional issue was framed:

'Is an agent not entitled to sue his principal for account? If so, its effect?The plaintiff did not then object that there was no occasion for framing that issue as his suit was not one for account but merely a suit for a specific sum which was at that time not known to the plaintiff but had to be ascertained on taking accounts. It is clear that his stand then was that the suit was for accounts and that he was entitled to a decree for accounts,

19. Even in paragraph 3 of his application for amendment the plaintiff stated. 'The plaintiff submits that the plaintiff under the circumstances is entitled to sue for accounts and alternately....'

20. There is thus no force in this plea that the suit was not for accounts but for a specific sum to be ascertained.

21. The third contention on behalf of the plaintiff is that in the circumstances of the case the plaintiff was entitled to a decree for accounts. The contention is that it is not that in no circumstances will an agent be entitled to sue for accounts and that the circumstances justifying such a suit existed.

22. It is not, therefore, necessary for us to refer to the argument of the learned counsel for the appellant that, as there is no provision for a suit for accounts by the agent either in the Contract Act or in the Limitation Act, no such suit will lie. On the arguments addressed to us it is conceded that normally such a suit will not lie but the existence of special circumstances will justify such a suit for accounts. In Mirza Najm Effindi v. Firm Kohinoor Footwear Co. : AIR1946All489 , it was ruled by a learned single judge of this Court that it is open to the agent to serve interrogatories on the principal or to apply for discovery and inspection of his account. It appears to have been suggested that in no circumstances could an agent sue for accounts but must always sue for a specific sum.

In view of the rulings relied upon by the learned counsel for the respondent we agree that a very narrow view was taken by the learned single Judge and that in special circumstances a suit for accounts by the agent will lie against his principal. The learned counsel has relied on Sushil Chandar Das v. Gauri Shankar, ILR 39 All 81 : (AIR 1917 All 466), Narmada Chandra v. Maharaj Bahadur Singh : AIR1937Cal359 , Basant Kumar Mishra v. Roshanlal Shrivastava AIR 1954 Nag 300, AIR 1938 Mad 707 (supra), Sivasubramania Pillai v. Panruti Industrial Co. Ltd. : AIR1957Mad21 , and Firm Ram Dev Jai Dev v. Seth Kaku AIR 1950 EP 92 (FB). It is not necessary for us to refer to these railings in detail. It would be sufficient for our purposes to refer to AIR 1938 Mad 707 (supra) which, in our opinion, if we may respectfully say so, lays down the law correctly :

'It is only in exceptional cases where his remuneration depends on the extent of dealings which are not known to him or where he cannot be aware of the extent of the amount due to him unless the accounts of his principal are gone into that a suit by an agent for accounts against his principal might be competent. But where the exact sum of money which the agent claims from his principal is known to him, the only form in which a suit can be filed is the one adopted by the plaintiff here.' It is, therefore, clear that the exceptional circumstance of the agent not being able to claim a specific sum without the principal's accounts being gone into must exist, If this circumstance does not exist a suit for accounts by the agent would be clearly non-maintainable.

23. The facts of the case before us clearly indicate that this special circumstance did not exist. Paragraph 2 clearly alleges that the plaintiff's remuneration was to depend on 'all the contracts secured'. Paragraph 3 precisely listed all the contracts secured by the plaintiff. There is and never was any disagreement between the parties as regards the 'contract secured' in the items mentioned in Clauses (a), (b) and (c) of paragraph 3 of the plaint. As regards Clause (d), it is clear from the second and third paragraphs of the plaintiff's application, dated 3-10-1951 that the tender originally was for 4199 tons and that the telegrams dated 26-1-1949 and 27-1-1949 from the Ministry of Food, Government of India clarified that it was accepted for 4000 Tons.

The plaintiff had sued on contracts secured. The details of all contracts were within his information. It has not been explained to us what facts were not within the knowledge of the plaintiff and that knowledge of those facts was essential to enable the plaintiff to claim a specific sum and that an investigation of the defendants accounts was necessary for ascertaining the amount due to the plaintiff.

24. The learned counsel for the plaintiff realised the impossibility of his position and in thecourse of his arguments changed his case by stating that the remuneration depended not on securing of the contracts but on actual supplies made under the contracts. The learned counsel clearly realised that he could not plausibly urge that the plaintiff did not know the details of the contracts secured by him as the plaintiff's assertion was that it was he who had not only submitted the tenders but has actually secured the contracts mentioned in the plaint.

He, therefore, wanted to base his suit on the actual supplies as he could always assert that the extent of the supplies actually made under the contracts secured by the plaintiff was within the special knowledge of the defendant. We, however, did not record the statement of the learned counsel as that would have changed the very basis of the suit and there was no application for amendment of the plaint.

25. On the facts before us it is, therefore, clear that the plaintiff has utterly failed to establish the existence of any circumstances enabling him to file a suit for accounts against his principal. It is conceded that in the absence of such circumstances the plaintiff was not entitled to maintain the suit as framed.

26. We have held above that the plaintiff's suit was for accounts and that there was no circumstance enabling the plaintiff to maintain such a suit. The suggestion of the learned counsel that an amendment was necessary only to avoid the framing of a preliminary decree does not therefore appeal to us. The learned counsel's suggestion is that the amendment was sought because it was only during the progress of the suit that the plaintiff was in a position to specify the amount for which he could claim a decree and this rendered the framing of a preliminary decree and an investigation of the accounts unnecessary.

We have already held that the suit as framed was not maintainable and that, therefore, the plaintiff had to amend the plaint if he wanted to avoid its dismissal. It was in those circumstances, when arguments had been heard in part, that the plaintiff realised that his suit would most probably be dismissed that he moved the application for amendment.

27. The contention of the learned counsel is that all amendments are within the power of the court. The argument is that the power of the Court was limited under the old Code of Civil Procedure but since the enactment of the 1908 Code of Civil Procedure all amendments are within the power of the Court and that the only question that a Court has to determine is whether the amendment should or should not be allowed.

28. The learned counsel has referred us to a large number of rulings. We will consider therm in detail, but we may in advance express our view that these rulings do not further the case of the learned counsel as in one of them was the question of the power of the Court to allow the amendment considered. The first case relied upon is Mohum-mud Zahoor Ali Khan v. Mt. Thakooranee Rutta Koer, 11 Moo Ind App 468. Discussing the question of, amendment their Lordships of the Privy Council stated at page 485 :

'They have already intimated that the appeal must be dismissed against all the respondents except Rutta Koer; and they have felt some doubt whether, inasmuch as the suit was wholly misconceived, the proper course was not to dismiss this appeal altogether, without prejudice to the right of the appellant to bring a new suit against RuttaKoer upon this Bond, treating it as a mere money Bond. Considering, however, that such a suit would probably be met By a plea of the Act of Limitations; that in the circumstances of this case such a defence would be inequitable; and that, the respondent not having appeared, their Lordships are not in a condition to put her on terms as to ner defence to a fresh suit; they have come to the conclusion that the fairer course is to do what the Judge of the Court of First Instance might, under the Code of Procedure, have done at an earlier stage of the course, namely, allow the appellant to amend his plaint so as to make it a plaint against Rutta Koer alone for the recovery of money due on a bond.'

This was a ruling under the old Code of Civil Procedure. It was held that the amendment was within the power of the court. The cause of action was the same and so was also the nature of the suit. There was thus no doubt as to the court's jurisdiction to allow the amendment in this case.

29. The next case relied upon is Charan Das v. Amir Khan AIR 1921 PC 50. In this case the plaintiffs, through some clumsy blundering, attempted to assert rights that they undoubtedly possessed under the statute ,in a form which the statute did not permit. It was held that they should be at liberty to express their intention in a plainer and less ambiguous manner, and to amend the plaint so as to express the rights which it had been really their intention all along to establish, although the amendment of the plaint was sought to be made at a time when the suit itself, if instituted, then would be time-barred. It was also held that the considerations of limitation were outweighed by the special circumstances of the case. In this case the right to pre-empt was admitted and there was justification for not claiming possession as the defendants themselves were not in possession. At page 51 column 2 it was stated :

'....... .for the power exercised is undoubtedly one within the discretion of the Judge and all that can be urged is that his discretion was exercised upon a wrong principal and that it ought therefore, to be reversed.'

It is thus obvious that there was no dispute as to the jurisdiction of the court to allow the amendment and that question was not gone into.

30. Ardeshir H. Mama v. Flora Sasoon AIR 1928 PC 208, was a suit for specific performance or damages in the alternative and it was held that such suit could be amended so as to convert it into one for damages only. It was further held that the court had power of granting such an amendment in proper cases. At page 218 in column 2 it was clearly held :

' 'Upon this, their Lordships are of opinion that he had the power. Whether it was one to be exercised in the circumstances is another matter.' There was so held as the dismissal of a suit for specific performance of a contract was a bar to a right to sue for compensation for breach. Their Lordships, however, held that the intended amendment whether rightly allowed or not was allowed without any proper appreciation of its serious effect upon the position of the parties to the suit.

31. Reliance has next been placed on the two rulings of the Supreme Court L.J. Leach and Co. Ltd. v. Jardine Skinner and Co; 0043/1957 : 1957CriLJ1346 and Pirgonda Hongoncla Patil v. Kalgonda Shidgonda Patil, : [1957]1SCR595 . Reference was made to Kisandas Rupchand v. Rachappa Vithoba, ILR 33 Bom 644 as the dictum of Batchelor J. was approved by the Supreme Court. In ILR 33 Bom 644 (supra) the learned Judge of thelower court had allowed the amendment on 7-10-1907, on the following grounds :

'The proposed amendment does not necessitate a change in the nature of the suit, or addition of anything to facts stated in the plaint as constituting the cause of action, but the mere addition of an alternative relief only. This relief, there seems no doubt, could very well have been claimed in the plaint as originally framed.'

It is, therefore, clear that the only question before the Court was whether the defendants should be deprived of their defence of limitation in the particular circumstances of the case. Referring to the second portion of Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure the learned Judge stated :

'From the imperative character of the last sentence of the rule it seems to me clear that, at any stage of the proceedings, all amendments ought to be allowed which satisfy the two conditions (a) of not working injustice to the other side, and (b) of being necessary for the purpose of determining the real questions in controversy between the parties. Upon the record before us there can be no doubt that this second condition is satisfied here, nor was this point challenged for the appellants. It remains to consider whether, the allowance of the amendment worked injustice to the defendants.'

Thus it is clear that in that case there was no question of a change of cause of action and no dispute about the amendment being necessary for the determination of the real questions in controversy between the parties, the only question was whether plea of limitation should be overruled or not. In, : [1957]1SCR438 (Supra) reference was made to ILR 33 Bom 644 (supra). Their Lordships expressed the opinion that justice required that the amendment should be granted. No question of the court not being empowered arose in the case. At page 362 (paragraph 15) their Lordships stated :

'The suit being founded on Ex. A., a claim based on Clause 14 thereof cannot be said to be foreign to the scope of the suit. Schedule E to the plaint mentions the several indents in respect of which the defendants had committed default by refusing to deliver the goods, and the damages claimed are also stated therein. The plaintiffs seek by their amendment only to claim damages in respect of those consignments. The player in the plaint is itself general and merely claims damages. Thus, all the allegations which are necessary for sustaining a claim for damages for breach of contract are already in the plaint. What is lacking is only the allegation that the plaintiffs are, in the alternative, entitled to claim damages for breach of contract by the defendants in not delivering the goods.'

It was thus clearly held that there was no attempt to introduce a new cause of action and the only question before their Lordships was whether the plea of limitation should be overruled.

32. In the other case (S) AIR 1957 SC 3631 (supra) after discussing the matters in detail and approving the remarks of Batchelor J, in ILR 33 Bom 644 (supra) it was stated (paragraph 11) :

'The same principles, we hold, should apply in the present case. The amendments do not really introduce a new case, and the application filed by the appellant himself showed that he was not taken by surprise; nor did he have to meet a new claim set up for the first time after the expiry of the period of limitation.'

At the end of paragraph 9 it was pointed out that the High Court rightly held that the proposed amendment did not alter the nature of the reliefs sought. It was, therefore, specifically found in this case that no new cause of action had been pleaded.

33. Muhammad Sadiq v. Abdul Majid, ILR 33 All 616 was merely a case of amendment of the share involved in a pre-emption suit and the amendment was looked upon as a correction of the description of the property. It was held :

'Looked upon in this light it was an amendment which the court below was entitled to make; and if it was an amendment which the court was entitled to make, we think that limitation must be reckoned as from the date of the presentation of the plaint, as explained by Section 3.'

At page 618 it was, however, pointed out :

'We think, however, that no court would have power to allow a new cause of action to be introduced into a plaint after that cause of action had become barred by limitation.'

It was thus clearly held that all amendments were not within the power and jurisdiction of the court to allow.

34. It is not necessary to go into the case of Hafiz Allah Baksh v. Hamid Khan : AIR1931All160 in any detail as there is no detailed discussion on this point. It was held that the amendment which, if allowed, would prejudice the defendant by debarring him from raising the plea of limitation should not bo granted at the stage of second appeal.

35. In Ruramal Ramnath v. Kapilman Misir : AIR1935All353 one of the learned Judges stated (page 468 (of ILR All) : (at p. 357 of AIR)).

' 'The real question in controversy in the present case is whether the balance of account as shown in the promissory note was or was not due from the defendant and the foundation of the claim was the account books. In my opinion this is a case in which the lower court ought to have allowed the desired amendment.'

36. The cases of Satchidananda Dutt v. Nritya Nath Mitter : AIR1924Cal517 and Rajendra Nath Saha v. Saraswati Press Ltd. : AIR1952Cal78 do not help the learned counsel as in both the cases the only question considered was whether the amendment should be allowed overruling the plea of limitation that has become available to the defendant. In Ahmad Hossein v. Mt. Chambelli : AIR1951Cal262 , Sarkar J. (as he then was) laid down :

'The making of amendments therefore is not really a matter of power of a court but its duty. It is a duty which has been cast upon Courts so that substantial justice may be done for which alone Courts exist.'

The learned Judge was then considering only the second part of Rule 17 of Order VI of the Code of Civil Procedure. That was a suit on dishonoured cheque. The plaintiff had not stated that any notice of dishonour had been given or that any circumstances, existed which rendered it unnecessary to give such notice. The plaintiff then sought to introduce these statements in the plaint by an amendment.

37. We do not understand this ruling to lay down the principle that all amendments can be permitted by the court at all stages. The plaintiff was not amending the cause of his action or the nature of his relief. He was only adding certain statements in support of the claim already preferred by him and the question of jurisdiction does not appear to have been before the learned Judge. In M. B. Sarkar and sons v. Powell and Co. : AIR1956Cal630 ; a Division Bench of which Sarkar J. was a member ruled :

'When the same person, whether an individual or a legal entity, remains the defendant, but only the name is altered, there is a case of amending a misdescription.'

Again no question of a change ofof cause of action arose, and the question raised was whether the amendment was necessary for the purpose of determining the controversy between the real parties. In Raghunath Prasad v. Mt. Prana the amendment was allowed as it was found that the mistake was due to wrong advice and that the amendment of the plaint would not hava changed the cause of action. The same view was expressed in Sampat Shukul v. Sub Karan Tewari AIR 1942 Oudh 161.

In that case the defendant a member of a joint Hindu family had executed a pronote in favour of the plaintiff. This pronote had been renewed by his brother, the karta of the family as the defendant was away from home, The plaintiff sued after the death of the karta against the defendant on the renewed pronote and sought to amend the plaint after limitation by adding that the debt was taken for the benefit of the family and therefore the defendant was liable also as a member of the family. It was held that the amendment did not alter the cause of action hut merely elucidated the reasons upon which the liability was sought and therefore must be allowed .

38. Sheonarayan v. Ramprasad AIR 1923 Nag 241 does go a little further in support of the contention of the learned counsel for the plaintiff. It was held :

'As has been shown the amendment alters the character of the suit entirely, and under Section 53 of the old Code an amendment of that kind was expressly forbidden. But Section 53 and Rule 17 of Order VI of the present Code makes no express restriction on the discretion of the Court, and in this case it un-doubtedly was judicially exercised .... What puts the correctness of the order and the Tightness of the exercise of its discretion by the court beyond all doubt is the fact that the defendant agreed to the order being passed ..... The defendant himself said 'I have no objection to the amendment' . . .'

With all due respect to the learned Additional Judicial Commissioner we are unable to agree with his view. The weight of the authority is clearly against the view expressed by him, In Anwar Khan v. Yakub Khan, AIR 1925 Nag 62 another Additional Judicial Commissioner of that same Court again held that Order VI Rule 17 gives a court great power to permit either party to alter or amend his pleadings at any stage of the proceedings and, therefore, the matter of amendment is within the discretion of the Presiding Judge. However, on the facts of the case no question of jurisdiction to allow the amendment arose. The case of Muthukrishna Ayyar v. Sankarasubramania Ayyar : AIR1934Mad267 does not really support the contention of the learned counsel as in that case it was held that an amendment which was sought only by way of abundant caution due to conflict of opinion should be allowed. No question of substitution of a cause of action arose. It was stated

'The suit remains one for accounts .......The only alteration now asked is an additional relief that if the deed requires to be set aside before re-lief can be granted this should be done.'

In Krishna Ayyar v. Gomathi Ammal : AIR1945Mad33 the relief clause was permitted to be amended after the period of limitation as the facts upon which the reliefs as amended were claimed were already part of the plaint when it was first presented. At page 35 column 2 it was stated :

'There can be no question, therefore, that it is only at this stage that the plaintiff is putting forward a new case against the defendants.'

39. That exhausts the list of all cases relied upon by the learned counsel for the plaintiff. Wehave entered into a detailed examination of the rulings as the learned counsel has contended that Order VI Rule 17 empowers the Court without any limit or restriction on its power to allow the amendment subject however to consideration of adjustment of equities between the parties. We are of opinion that in none of the cases has it been ruled (except in the Nag. cases referred to above) that the court's power is unlimited. As would appear from the cases mentioned below, we are of opinion that the court has no power to allow an amendment which would substitute one cause of action for another.

40. In Ma Shwe Mya v. Maung Mo Hnaung AIR 1922 PC 249 it was Laid down (p. 250) :

'All rules of court are nothing but provisions intended to secure the proper administration of justice and it is, therefore, essential that they should be made to serve and be subordinate to that purpose so that full powers of amendment must be enjoyed and should always be liberally exercised, but none the less no power has yet been given to enable one distinct cause of action to be substituted for another, nor to change by means of amendment, the subject matter of the suit.'

In Ram Saran Mandar v. Mahabir Sahu the same view was affirmed. It was laid down :

'It is not permissible by amendment to change the nature of the suit as framed; and even if it were, the defendants affected by such amendment must have an opportunity to rebut such new cause of action, a course which would involve fresh written statements and a fresh trial.'

Again in Kanda v. Waghu AIR 1950 PC 68 relying on AIR 1922 PC 249 (supra) it was held that it was not open to the court under Section 153 and Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure to allow an amendment which alters the real matter in controversy between the parties. It was again stated :

'The powers of amendment conferred by the Code are very wide, but they must be exercised in accordance with legal principles and their Lordships cannot allow an amendment which would involve the setting up of a new case.'

The same view was taken in E. K. S. Chettyar Firm v. Maung Min Maung, AIR 1933 Rang 247. The learned Judge then stated (page 249).

'It will be seen, therefore, that the one thing which must not be altered by an amendment is the fundamental character of the suit; and f understand that the fundamental character of a suit must refer to the foundation on which it is based. It is the foundation on which a suit is based and not the prayer in the plaint that determines its fundamental character,'

We have already referred to ILR 33 All 616 (supra) in which it has also been held that no Court has power to allow a cause of action being introduced in a plaint after that cause of action had become barred by limitation.

41. We are accordingly, of opinion and are in that view supported by considerable authority, that it is not open to either party by amendment to seek to substitute a new cause of action or to change the nature or character of the suit after limitation has set in. In the present case, as pointed out, the plaintiff had sought a decree for accounts. He had based his claim on the repeated refusal of the defendant to render the account and to pay the money in spite of promises. By the amendment the plaintiff wanted to change the relief originally claimed for rendition of accounts and a decree for the amount found due on such rendition of accounts into a new relief for a decree for a specific amountclaimed to be due as commission on specific contracts secured by the plaintiff and also wanted to change the cause of action from the refusal to render accounts to non-payment of the specific amount. This change in both the relief claimed and the cause of action was, in our opinion, a fundamental change in the character of the suit and in the circumstances of the case the plaintiff could not be permitted to make such an amendment. We accordingly hold that the amendment sought was not within the jurisdiction of the Court to allow after the bar of limitation had become available to the defendant. The amendment was not even necessary for the determination of the real question initially in controversy between the parties. In the plaint as originally framed the real question was whether the defendant was liable to render accounts. After the amendment the real question between the parties became as to whether the defendant was liable to pay the specific sum of Rs. 54,808/- to the plaintiff, this, in our opinion, was a fundamental change in the character of the suit and could not be permitted.

42. We will now consider the case on the assumption that the amendment was within the power of the court and will proceed to discuss the question whether the discretion was properly exercised in the circumstances of the case. The learned counsel for the appellant has urged before us that, even if the court had jurisdiction to allow the amendment, the exercise of the Court's discretion was inappropriate in the circumstances of the case. The learned counsel has conceded that in case special circumstances existed, the court would be justified in overruling the bar of limitation and depriving the defendant of that plea. It is, therefore, not necessary for us to discuss the rulings relied upon by the learned counsel for the defendant to the effect that the bar of limitation may be overruled.

It would be sufficient to make a mere mention of those rulings 11 Moo Ind App 468 (PC) (supra) AIR 1921 PC 50 (supra). : [1957]1SCR438 (supra) : [1957]1SCR595 (supra); : AIR1924Cal57 (supra) : AIR1952Cal78 (supra) : AIR1956Cal630 (supra), AIR 1925 Nag 62 (supra), ILR 33 Bom 644 (supra) and : AIR1945Mad33 (supra). The principle underlying all these rulings is the same. There are cases in which the consideration of limitation is outweighed by the special circumstances of the case, the view taken in AIR 1921 PC 50 (supra). On the other hand the bar of limitation was held, to be a sufficient bar in Bhagwanji Morarji Goculdas v. Alembic Chemical Works Co. Ltd. and : AIR1931All160 (supra). This is also emphasised in the view of Batchelor J. in ILR 33 Bom 644 (supra) which was approved in : [1957]1SCR595 (supra). Batchelor J. stated

'That doctrine, as I understand it, is that amendment should be refused only where the other party cannot be placed in the same position as if the pleading had been originally correct, but the amendment would cause him an injury which could not be compensated in costs. It is merely a particular case of this general rule that where a plaintiff seeks to amend by setting up a fresh claim in respect of a cause of action which since the institution of the suit had become barred by limitation, the amendment must be refused; to allow it would be to cause the defendant an injury which could not be compensated in costs by depriving him of a good defence to the claim. The ultimate test, therefore, still remains the same : can the amendment be allowed without injustice to the other side or can it not?'

In the instant case there were no special circumstances why the defendant be deprived of plea of limitation that had accrued to him. The plaintiffhad instituted the suit on 16-4-1951. He had sought limitation by acknowledgments dated 24-3-1949 and 23-4-1949. The suit was, therefore, than within limitation up to 23-4-1952. It was by an application dated 30-11-1951 that the plea of the non-maintainability of the suit was taken. Then paragraph 10A was added to the written-statement and an additional issue No. 6 questioning the plaintiff's title to sue for accounts was framed. The plaintiff was thus warned within the period of limitation. He did not choose to amend the plaint within that time. In the application for amendment presented on 11-8-1952 the plaintiff stated in paragraph 4 :

'That now after the defendant has filed statements of transactions and after the documents from Government of India have been filed, the plaintiff is in a position to give the exact amount which comes to Rs. 54,808/- (Rupees Fifty four, thousand-eight hundred and eight only) and is prepared to amend the plaint and pay additional court fee'. The intention appears to be to indicate that the plaintiff was not in a position to ask for the amendment at an earlier date. The statement, if it was intended to convey that meaning, is clearly false. The defendant had filed the statement of the transactions on 19-7-1951. He had admitted that 18808 bags of crystal sugar had been supplied under the contracts mentioned in Clauses (a), (b) and (c) of paragraph 3 of the plaint.

The documents from the Government of India had been filed on 28-9-1951. It was on 3-10-1951, that the plaintiff prayed that the defendant be asked to clarify whether the sugar tender for 4000/- Tons referred to in Exit. P. W. 1/34 relates to Exht. P.W 1/35 or to any other tender. On that date as is clear from this application he knew for definite that the contract mentioned in Clause (d) of paragraph a of the plaint had been accepted for 4000/- tons as stated in paragraph 3 of his application of 3-10-1951, By this application the plaintiff, though aware of the contents of certain telegrams, also prayed that the defendant he required to file the original telegrams dated 25th, 26th, and 27th January, 1949 from the Ministry of Food, Government of India accepting tender No. D/- 1800 addressed to the defendant.

It is thus clear that the plaintiff's insinuation that he had come to know the precise amount he was entitled to only at the stage when he presented the application for amendment is clearly false. He knew within the period of limitation, what specific amount due to him was. He did not apply for amendment within the period of limitation but by his neglect permitted time to pass to enable the defendant to plead limitation in bar of his claim. We may point out that the learned counsel for the respondent has not given us any explanation of these circumstances and has not replied to the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant in this respect. The learned Civil Judge in his order allowing the amendment also glossed over these circumstances. He stated :

'Naturally the plaintiff was not in a position when the suit was instituted to put in a claim for a specific amount from the defendants and therefore as any person under the circumstances would have done he filed the suit as one for and on accounts. In the course of the trial of the suit plaintiff has managed to obtain material for putting in a claim for a definite amount.'

The learned Civil Judge did not closely examine the date when the plaintiff had, even according to himself come to know or but for his gross negligence have come to know the specific amount that he could claim as his commission on the transactions in question. In U. P. Government v. J. R. Bhatta. : AIR1956All439 it was held :

'The fact of the matter is that the applicationfor amendment was filed at the fag-end of the arguments after it should have become clear to the' parties, as a result of the discussions between the court and counsel that the plaintiff-respondent's suit should have been decreed. The application for amendment on the ground on which it has been made cannot, therefore, be said to be a bona fide one. We, therefore, reject that application.'

In the present case also the plaintiff, though warned on 30-11-1951 did not make the application till the fag-end of the case. We have already stated that the evidence was closed on 31-7-1952 and then 2-8-1952 was fixed for arguments. On that date the arguments could not be heard due to a sessions trial, and the hearing was adjourned to 8-8-1952. On that date arguments were heard in part and 11-8-19531 was fixed for further arguments. It was then that this application for amendment was moved. We have already pointed out that the statement in paragraph 4 of the application for amendment did not state the truth or at least the impression that it was intended to convey was not correct. We are, therefore of opinion that there were no special circumstances for depriving the defendant of the plea of limitation and further that the application made was not bona fide.

43. The learned counsel for the appellant has also contended that the plaintiff's action in filing a suit for account was only an attempt to avoid payment of court-fee. The suit was tentatively valued at over Rs. 5000/- only so that first appeal may lie to this Court; otherwise even if the plaintiff did not know details about the contract mentioned in clause (d) of paragraph 3, he should have claimed a sum of over Rs. 18,000/- in respect of the contracts mentioned in Clauses (a), (b) and (c) of paragraph three of the plaint. It is clear from the statement submitted by the defendant on 19-7-1951 that 18,808 bags of crystal sugar had in fact been supplied in pursuance of the contract mentioned in Clause (a), (b) and (c) of Paragraph 3 of the plaint.

Thus the plaintiff had no reason not to value the suit at least at Rs. 15808/- (after deducting the sum of Rs. 4000/- which has been received by the plaintiff) but the plaintiff refrained, from amending, the valuation. Even in the application for amendment the plaintiff sought time for payment of additional court-fee. According to him,, a further sum of Rs. 1715/5/- was due as court-fee. This amount was within his knowledge on 11-8-1952. The amendment was allowed on 15-9-1952 on payment of Rs. 300/- as costs which were to be paid within three weeks of the date of that order. On 8-10-1952 the plaintiff sought an extension of time till that date for payment of the costs.

It was only on 10-10-1952 that the additional court-fee was paid. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the plaintiff wanted to avoid payment of court-fee and was not in a position to pay it and it was for that reason that he had adopted this device of filing a suit for accounts. We do not wish to attach any considerable weight to the suggestion that the plaintiff delayed payment of court-fee and he was not in a position to pay till 10-10-1952. There is, however, force in the suggestion that the plaintiff could have paid at least some part of the court-fee and should have raised the valuation of the suit to Rs. 14,808/- much earlier and paid court-fee thereon.

44. Another contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that by filing the suit for ac-counts the plaintiff made an unfair attempt to put the burden of proof on the defendant. In a suit for accounts, if that suit lay, the defendant would be the accounting party and would have to satisfy the court that his accounts were true and complete. Thus the burden would be on the defendant. In a suit for specific amount the burden would be on the plaintiff to prove that he had secured the particular contracts and the amount due to him on each contract. The learned counsel for the respondent has not answered this argument either. We have, therefore, no option but to hold that the suit as instituted was not bona fide and that the plaintiff possibly made an attempt to put the burden of proof on the defendant unfairly.

45. One of the special circumstances mentioned in several cases already cited above was the wrong frame of the suit being due to mistaken advice. That was the plea in AIR 1921 PC 50 (supra). It was held that there was some clumsy blundering. It is not necessary for us to mention all the cases referred earlier. It would be sufficient for us to specifically refer to (supra) in which the mistake was held to be due to wrong advice and AIR 1942 Oudh 161 (supra). No such plea has been urged before us. In the application for amendment presented on 11-8-52 no plea of wrong advice was taken.

46. The learned counsel for the appellant has thus rightly urged that there was no explanation of the delay in presenting the application for amendment and the application was not bona fide, that there was an improper attempt to place the burden of proof on the defendant that no mistake of counsel was pleaded and that therefore in this case no special circumstance has been made out for depriving the defendant of the right accrued to him by the bar of limitation. It has not been suggested that the application for amendment was made within the period of limitation. On a consideration of these facts we are of opinion that, even if the court had the power to allow the amendment, that discretion was improperly exercised and the order allowing the amendment must be reversed.

41. Once the amendment application is rejected, it is clear that the circumstances do not enable the plaintiff to maintain a suit for account as has already been held by us earlier. The plaintiff's suit was liable to dismissal. It is, therefore, not necessary for us to consider the other questions involved in this appeal and we have not heard the learned counsel for the appellant on the merits as in the view that we have taken it was not necessary to do so.

48. We accordingly accept this appeal and set aside the judgment and decree of the learned civil Judge. We direct that the plaintiff's suit be dismissed with costs in both the courts.


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