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Khaderan Ram and ors. Vs. Sharda Prasad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectArbitration
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 608 of 1984
Judge
Reported inAIR1986All34
ActsArbitration Act, 1940 - Sections 20; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 40, Rule 1
AppellantKhaderan Ram and ors.
RespondentSharda Prasad and ors.
Appellant AdvocateG.P. Bhargawa, ;A.N. Bhargawa, ;Daya Shanker Mani Tripathi and ;R.C. Shukla, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS.M. Chaturvedi, Adv.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Excerpt:
.....filed under section 20 does not become a suit - simply application to refer dispute regarding dissolution of partnership to arbitrator - mere application for reference not to imply that partnership is dissolved. - - when they failed in their efforts, they filed writ petitions and have now taken (sic) receiver. a well grounded fear that the property will be wasted and damaged or that an irreparable harm may be done to it unless the court extends to it its protection may afford necessary justification for appointment of a receiver. the court will not act on 'possible danger only' and 'remote or part damage' will not suffice as a ground, but 'there must be well grounded apprehension of immediate injury and danger' and 'danger of suffering irreparable loss. united bank of india..........is that if the partnership has been dissolved or is sought to be dissolved by the filing of the suit receiver can be appointed at a matter of course provided his appointment is sought for the taking of the assets of the firm and ultimately for distribution thereof to the partners and the relationship between the partners is extremely strained. in the cases in which one of the partners has completely excluded the other from the management and the profits of the firm and funds are misappropriated, receiver can again be appointed, but for a running firm, the dissolution of which is not established, the court will be slow in appointing a receiver because that will affect the position of the person who is running the business and is in de facto possession of the same.17. in the present.....
Judgment:
ORDER

V.P. Mathur, J.

1. This revision is directed against the judgment and order dt. 17-9-1984, passed by Sri M.R. Siddiqui, Civil Judge Gyanpur, district Varanasi, whereby he has rejected an application for appointment of the Receiver in Misc. Case No. 26 of 1984. This application was moved by Khaderan Ram and others, the present revisionists, and was contested by Sharda Prasad and others, the opposite parties. It may be mentioned here that Khaderan Ram and others approached the court with an application under Section 20, Arbitration Act, and during the pendency of this application an application for appointment of a receiver purporting to be under Order 40 Rule 1, C.P.C., read with Section 41 and Schedule 2, Arbitration Act and Section 151, C.P.C., was moved It was this application which on the contest put forward by the opposite parties was rejected by the [earned Civil Judge. The allegations in the petition for appointment of the receiver were that Mashal Talkies, situate in Bhadohi, district Varanasi, was a partnership firm in which the share of the defendants was 42% and that of the opposite parties was 58%. On 26-3-81 Khaderan Ram by a telegraphic notice dissolved this firm since it was a partnership at will. Even after that the opposite parties are running the Cinema. It was also mentioned that one of the original partners Kamta Prasad died in 1975 and the other partner died in 1983 and on Kamta Prasad's death on 21-1-1975 the firm was reconstituted. In the beginning the licence of running the cinema was in the names of Kamta Prasad and Kalka Prasad. When Kamta Prasad died, the licence was got renewed in the names of Lalta Prasad and Kalka Prasad and this continued up to 1979. The dispute started arising during the year 1979-80 when Lalta Prasad wrote to the Licensing Authority to include the name of his brother Sharda Prasad also in the licence. It was opposed. There was an amicable settlement as a result of which the names of Khaderan Ram and Kalka Prasad on one side and Lalta Prasad and Sharda Prasad on the other were included in the renewed licence. After the so-called dissolution of the firm on 26-3-1981, the opposite parties applied for the issue of the licence in the names of Lalta Prasad and Sharda Prasad for the year 1981-82. Objections were filed by the present revisionists but these were rejected and the licence was issued in the names of Lalta Prasad and Sharda Prasad. A writ petition was filed, but it was dismissed on 26-2-83 as infructuous. Then in the year 1982-83 fresh renewal of the licence was sought in the names of Lalta Prasad and Sharda Prasad and the objections that were filed by the revisionists were rejected on the ground that it was a case of renewal of the old licence and not a case of issue of a fresh licence. Another Writ Petition No. 5394 of 1982 has been filed, which is still pending. Then these proceedings under Section 20, Arbitration Act, were started on 9-3-84. It is contended that the Cinema is being run and the revisionists have been excluded from Its management they are not being paid any share of the profits, the accounts are being manipulated, all the assets of the Cinema are being secretly dealt with and in order to save the misappropriation, alienation, waste and damage, it is just and convenient that a receiver may be appointed. Objections have been filed by the opposite parties. Their contention is that there has been no dissolution of the partnership firm. Partly because a telegraphic notice cannot take the place of a legal notice and also because there has been no service of this notice on all the partners. They also contend that before July, 1977 the firm was being run under the management of the revisionists and the result was that it was running in heavy losses and water tax and charges of electricity dues had all fallen in arrears. Since July 1977, on account of this state of affairs the revisionist withdrew from the management and it was taken over by the opposite parties and the situation is that all past dues have been paid off. The profits have been increased and there is general improvement in the business of the firm. Shares of the revisionists in respect of the profits are being credited to their account. All along the revisionists have been taking the steps, vide letter D/- 9-5-1980 and other documents on the record, to see that the business is completely stopped. When they failed in their efforts, they filed writ petitions and have now taken (Sic) receiver. There is no proof of any misappropriation. Allegations are all vague. It is wrong to say that they have been excluded. Actually they have withdrawn from the management. There is no case of waste or mismanagement and hence the application for receivership is not maintainable.

2. It must be made very clear at the outset that an application under Section 20, Arbitration Act, and application for appointment of the receiver, which purports to be under Order 40 Rule 1, C.P.C. and Section 41 read with Schedule 2, Arbitration Act, are two different proceedings. One is not affected by the other.

3. In the case of Daulat Ram Phool Chand v. Shriram : AIR1964MP219 it has been held that within the scope of Clause (b), Section 41, are included all those proceedings which are held in pursuance of the arbitration agreement whether with or without intervention of the court and in a case where application is filed before the court under Section 20(1), Arbitration Act, or where reference to arbitration is made through the intervention of the court, the court has seisin of the case and can undoubtedly pass interim order. It is not disputed before me that the application for appointment of the receiver was in order, when the proceedings under Section 20, Arbitration Act, were going on.

4. In this case the question for determination will be whether by the making of the application under Section 20, Arbitration Act, the partnership can be deemed to have been dissolved.

5. The contention of the revisionists is that by telegraphic notice they dissolved the partnership on 26-3-1981. The present opposite parties have disputed this contention and have alleged that there has been no dissolution of the partnership. According to them, it still exists and the firm is running in partnership. They contend that the notice by telegram was no notice in the eye of law and secondly, it has not been served on all the partners. The learnedcourt below has rightly come to the conclusion that this will be a matter for decision by the Arbitrator, if the application under Section 20 which is pending, is allowed. Hence no finding could be recorded on this point during the course of hearing of the application for appointment of the receiver.

6. There can be no presumption of dissolution of the partnership. That fact has to be proved and established because the presumption is always in favour of the running of the business and not in favour of its closure or its dissolution. The contention of the learned counsel that the mere filing of the petition under Section 20, Arbitration Act, would amount to dissolution of the partnership does not appear to be a sound argument. As far back as in 1921, in the case of Satish Chandra Bose v. Pali Ram Agarwala AIR 1921 Pat 161, it was held that an application under para 17(1) (of the old Civil Procedure Code) was not a suit and proceedings commenced by presentation of such an application cannot be deemed to have been commenced on a plaint. In 1933, in the case of Bhimaram v. Bhagat Thakardas Tikken Lal, AIR 1933 Peshawar 18 again reference of the old Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Schedule 2, Paras 17 and 20 was made and it was held that though applications under paras 17 and 20 were required to be numbered and registered as suits, they were not treated as suits for all purposes. In the case of Indian Oil Corporation v. Kishore Bandhu, 1978 All LJ 176 a Division Bench of this Court held that the proceedings initiated before a court by an application made under the various provisions of the Arbitration Act, 1940, including Section 20(1) cannot be treated as suit. In this view of the legal position, an application under Section 20, Arbitration Act, is not a suit and the analogy that when a suit is filed and summonses are served on the opposite parties, it amounts to dissolution, cannot be applied to the proceedings under Section 20 Arbitration Act.

7. In the case of Sharyau Armando Pereira v. Vishnu Yashwant Sawant AIR 1981 Goa 57 the court was considering the case of a partnership at will. A suit for dissolution was filed and no prior-notice under Section 43, Arbitration Act, had been served. It was held that dissolution will be deemed to have been made by the filing of the suit from the date ofthe service of the summonses on the partners. The basis for this view is Section 32(c), English Partnership Act, which is pari materia to our present section. In England a view has been taken that if partnership is at will and a member brings an action for dissolution without prior notice, the summons shall be treated as notice to dissolve and the dissolution will date from its service. In the case of Sathappa v. Subrahmanyam , it was held that filing of plaint in a suit for dissolution by one partner and service of summonses on all other partners is enough to put an end to the partnership at will,

8. Therefore, the entire law is that if a suit for dissolution of the partnership is filed and previous notice has not been served, then on the service of summons on the partners the dissolution of firm shall take effect. There is no law to lay down that such a presumption can be in respect of a mere petition under Section 20, Arbitration Act, which is not a suit for dissolution but an application to refer the dispute to the Arbitrator and hence not a suit at all.

9. The legal position regarding a dissolved firm, and a continuing firm is not similar. If the dissolution of a partnership has been made or is ordered by the court, a receiver may be appointed in normal course, for winding up the business, but before dissolution the status quo should not be interfered with merely because there are differences between the partners. Appointment of a receiver for management of a running partnership business has no justification in law. A well grounded fear that the property will be wasted and damaged or that an irreparable harm may be done to it unless the court extends to it its protection may afford necessary justification for appointment of a receiver. This is the law laid down in Bhagwan Ram Kairi v. Radhika Ranjan Das AIR 1953 Assam 25.

10. In the case reported in, AIR 1981 Goa 57 (supra) it was also held that a receiver was to be appointed as a matter of course when a partnership is dissolved either under the order of the court or if it is dissolved, out of court or any of the partners comes to court for seeking the relief due to him as an ex-partner. The main purpose to appoint a receiver is to take charge of the partnership assets, collect the same and convert it into cash, if necessary, and to discharge the debts of the firm and then divide the surplus between the partners. But where the matter concerns a running firm, the dissolution of which is not established, different consideration will have to weigh. In the case T. Krishna Swamy Chetty v. C. Thangavelu Chetty : AIR1955Mad430 it has been laid down that the appointment of a receiver is recognised as one of the harshest remedies which the law provides for the enforcement of the rights and is allowable only in extreme cases and in circumstances where the interest of the person seeking the appointment of a receiver is exposed to manifest peril. Therefore, this exceedingly delicate and responsible duty has to be discharged by the Court with utmost caution and only when the five requirements embodied in the words 'just and convenient' in Order 40, Rule 1 are fulfilled by the facts of the case under consideration. These five requirements are :

(1) The appointment of a receiver pending a suit is a matter resting in the discretion of the Court.

(2) The Court should not appoint a receiver except upon proof by the plaintiff that prima facie he has a very excellant chance of succeeding in the suit.

(3) Not only must the plaintiff show a case of adverse and conflicting claims to property, but he must show some emergency or danger or loss demanding immediate action and of his own right he must be reasonably clear and free from doubt. The element of danger is an important consideration.

(4) An order appointing a receiver will not be made where it has the effect of depriving a defendant of a 'de facto' possession since that might cause irreparable wrong. It would be different where the property is shown to be 'in medio', that is to say, in the enjoyment of no one. And

(5) The Court, on the application made for the appointment of a receiver, looks to the conduct of the party who makes the application and will usually refuse to interfere unless his conduct has been free from blame.

11. This case was followed by the Mysore High Court in Srinivasa Rao v. Baburao AIR 1970 Mys 141. In the case of Dilman Rai v. Srinarayan Sharma AIR 1983 Sikkim 11 it was observed that an order appointing receiverwill not be made where it has the effect of depriving the defendant of a 'de facto' possession since that might cause irreparable wrong. The court will not act on 'possible danger only' and 'remote or part damage' will not suffice as a ground, but 'there must be well grounded apprehension of immediate injury and danger' and 'danger of suffering irreparable loss.'

12. In the case of Satish Chandra Giri v. Benoy Krishna Mukhopadhya AIR 1926 Cal 1092 the facts were that the suit was filed on 15-9-1922 and an application for receivership was moved on 1-11-1924. It was observed that an application for appointment of receiver should be promptly made. In the Sikkim case of Dilman Rai (Supra) also it was held that delay in making the application for appointment of the receiver is a circumstance unfavourable to such an appointment. In the case of S.B. Industries Freegunj v. United Bank of India : AIR1978All189 , a Division Bench of this Court has held that to justify appointment of receiver the plaintiff must establish (1) a prima facie good case and (2) that it is necessary to prevent fraud, to protect and preserve the property against imminent danger of loss or diminution in value, destruction, squandering, wastage or removal from jurisdiction, before he can seek the relief of appointment of a receiver.

13. It has been argued before me with reference to the case of Nihal Chand v. Ram Niwas that a receiver may be appointed where a partner excludes another from the management of the partnership affairs. This case placed reliance upon the Madras case reported in : AIR1955Mad430 (Supra) and on it was based a subsequent case of Rajasthan, viz., Abani Kumar Mukherjee v. Nand Kishore . It was held that the only object and effect of appointment of a receiver is to maintain things in their present condition during pendency of the suit. The effect of appointment of a receiver of a running partnership is that it operates as an injunction against the other partners. Therefore, unless some special grounds for doing so can be shown, the court generally will not appoint a receiver against a partner. As a general rule, the court will not appoint a receiver unless dissolution of partnership firm is sought. The court does not in general interfere with the management of partnership except as incidental to the object of the action to wind up the assets. Special ground can be misconduct of a partner, which may be such as to show that he is no longer to be trusted as for example, he is carrying on trade of his own with partnership property or if there is any mismanagement which may endanger the whole concern, or if that partner is acting in a manner inconsistent with his duties and obligations or has excluded other partners from the fruits of the partnership funds, but non-co-operation of one partner in the management is not sufficient. Only if quarrels are such as to occasion a complete deadlock in carrying on the business, a receiver will be appointed. Another case, which is cited before me on behalf of the revisionists is that of Prem Prakash Kapoor v.Govind Ram Kapoor AIR 1976 J & K 37. It was a suit for declaration, injunction and rendition of accounts of a partnership. It was established that the plaintiff had been excluded from the business of the firm and the Court was of the view that the firm assets were exposed to manifest peril. The defendants had taken over the stocks in trade and the business of the firm, and were dealing with the same as their own property after entering into a new partnership.

14. Somewhat same was the view of the Patna High Court in the case of Kamal Chaudhary v. Rajendra Chaudhary : AIR1976Pat366 It was a partition suit. The property was joint and the plaintiff had been excluded from its enjoyment. It was held that it was unnecessary to prove that the plaintiff had a good prima facie case or to seek proof of waste of mismanagement and receiver could be appointed.

15. Again in Moti Lal v. Badrinath (AIR 1982 J & K 1), which was a suit by one partner for dissolution of the partnership, the Court accepting the ground that the plaintiff has no access to the management and the accounts of the business, held the appointment of the receiver justified. In the case of G. Ram Chandrayya v. Nethi Iswarayya AIR 1952 Hyd 139 the Court held that in suits relatingto partnership concerns, even though no circumstances tending to jeopardise the partnership assets be shown the Court would be justified in appointing a receiver if the defendant seeks to exclude the copartners from the management. The case of Sheonarain Jaiswal v. Shree Kripa Shanker Jaiswal : AIR1972Pat75 was a suit for distribution and partition of the assets of a dissolved firm and it was found as a fact that the relations of the partners were strained. It was held that the Court could appoint a receiver as a matter of course in view of the bitter relationship between the partners.

16. The sum and substance of a perusal of this entire law on the subject is that if the partnership has been dissolved or is sought to be dissolved by the filing of the suit receiver can be appointed at a matter of course provided his appointment is sought for the taking of the assets of the firm and ultimately for distribution thereof to the partners and the relationship between the partners is extremely strained. In the cases in which one of the partners has completely excluded the other from the management and the profits of the firm and funds are misappropriated, receiver can again be appointed, but for a running firm, the dissolution of which is not established, the Court will be slow in appointing a receiver because that will affect the position of the person who is running the business and is in de facto possession of the same.

17. In the present case, a perusal of all the documents on record of the court below, the affidavits, the counter affidavits and the rejoinder affidavits filed in the court below and before this Court will make it clear that it is still doubtful whether the firm has been dissolved. Admittedly the opposite parties are running the management of the firm. There is no proof on record of the fact that they have misappropriated any funds or are guilty of mismanagement. There is also no proof of the fact that the assets of the firm are in jeopardy. The mere fact that in the year 1977 some money of this firm was deposited in another firm 'Mashal Bidi' will have no effect upon the present petition. In the year 1977, according to the opposite parties, the management was being run by the present revisionists and according to the revisionists, it was jointly being run by both the parties. Therefore, what happened in the year 1977 cannot be said to be a blameworthy act on the part of the opposite parties. So far as the allegation regarding exclusion of the revisionist is concerned, it is disputed and denied. On the contrary, it appears from all the circumstances on record that it is not a case of exclusion but of voluntary non-co-operation of the revisionists in the management. There is nothing on record to show that the opposite parties are stopping the revisionists from exercising their right of management or stopping them from going to the Cinema premises or looking to the accounts that are being maintained.

18. The documents on record show that efforts had been made by the revisionists to see that the Cinema did not run. Objections against grant of licence were made and a suggestion was given that the dues may be realised by attachment and sale of the assets. All these activities go to show that there is non-co-operation in the management by the revisionists. It is not a case of mismanagement or waste or damage. The application for receivership was, therefore, rightly rejected.

19. The learned court below has by way of an added precaution imposed certain conditions upon the opposite parties. They have been directed to submit in court a copy of the accounts that they maintain, after every three months and the revisionists have been granted permission to inspect the same. This includes their power to file objections against those accounts if they find that they are not being properly maintained or the expenses are being magnified. The condition is a very proper and just condition.

20. There is no force in this revision, which is hereby dismissed with costs.


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