Muhammad Rafiq and Pigott, JJ.
1. This was a suit for damages against the Secretary of State for India in Council. The plaintiff firm states that it was lawfully in possession as pawnee of certain ornaments; that it made them over to Gopal Ram, Court Inspector, Fyzabad, upon his stating that the production of the same' was necessary under an order of the Magistrate in re king-Emperor v. Shambhu Dayal and Girdhari Lal under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, which was pending in the Criminal Court at Fyzabad.' Subsequently, according to the plaint, the ornaments in question were made over to their original owner, one Pashpat Nath, 'by the court of the Pargana Officer' at Fyzabad. The criminal case in question had been tried by the court of the Assistant Sessions Judge of Fyzabad, and that was undoubtedly the proper court to pass orders regarding the disposal of property in respect of which the offence or offences set forth in the charge tried by it had been committed. The plaintiff firm very properly applied to the Assistant Sessions Judge for relief and obtained an order from that court directing Pashpat Nath to replace the ornaments in the possession of the court, or else to make good their value. This would of course have satisfied the plaintiff; but it so happened that Pashpat Nath was unable or unwilling to replace the ornaments and that he became insolvent, after only a trifling sum had been realized from him on account of their value. The plaint asserts that 'the Criminal Court at Fyzabad showed negligence and slackness in realizing the remaining amount due from Pashpat Nath'; but admits that, once he had been 'declared insolvent', nothing more was to be realized from him.
2. It is clear, therefore, from the plaint that the acts or omissions by which the plaintiff alleges himself to have been damnified were perpetrated by:
(i) Gopal Ram, Court Inspector, Fyzabad.
(ii) The Court of the Pargana Officer at Fyzabad.
(iii) The Court of the Assistant Sessions Judge at the same place.
(iv) The Criminal Court at Fyzabad, which may or may not be identical with the second or third of the above.
3. It is nowhere alleged in the plaint how any of these four was acting, under the alleged circumstances, as servant or agent, of the Secretary of State for India in Council, or how the said defendant is liable for damage suffered through the act of any one of them. In short, the plaint discloses no cause of action against the Secretary of State for India in Council, The case is very much on all fours with The Secretary of State for India in Council v. Sukhdeo (1899) I.L.R. 21 All. 341; indeed the present plaintiff's position is much weaker than that of the plaintiff Sukhdeo.
4. The courts below have, however, inquired into the facts of this case. It has been proved that Gopal Ram, Court Inspector, obtained possession of the ornaments under a warrant lawfully, and very properly, issued by a court of competent jurisdiction; the plaintiff has no cause of action on this ground. The return of the ornaments to Pashpat Nath was effected under an order improperly passed by the Magistrate who had committed the criminal case for trial: the proper court, that of the Assistant Sessions Judge, did its best to rectify the mistake. These courts are not the servants or agents of the Secretary of State and he is not liable for damages if they make a mistake.
5. The suit has rightly been dismissed by both the courts below; we dismiss the appeal with costs.