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Bhagwati Prasad Vs. B.B. and C.i. Railway - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Civil
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Reported inAIR1940All235
AppellantBhagwati Prasad
RespondentB.B. and C.i. Railway
Excerpt:
- - the ticket is issued in regular course only against payment, so that the railway company (or other purveyor of services to the public in a like position as the case may be) makes an offer by tendering the ticket, and the contract is formed only by acceptance of the ticket immediately after payment of the fare. in a case like this, it cannot be said that it is open to a servant of the railway company to agree to any rate whether it be correct or incorrect. the case referred by the learned counsel for the plaintiff is not applicable because we do not know whether in that case there was any condition like the one which we find in the coaching tariff of the defendant company......c.i. railway to recover a sum of money on account of damages. the plaintiff wrote a letter to the station master of agra fort railway station, a servant of the defendant company, stating that he desired to engage a special train for carrying a barat party from agra to hathras station and inquiring what the minimum charges will be for the same. the station master wrote back that the charges will be rs. 250. later on, the station master wrote to the plaintiff that he will have to pay rs. 25 more in addition to the sum of rs. 250 and to this the plaintiff agreed by his letter dated 24th february 1937. on 26th february 1937, when the plaintiff went to the railway station he was told that the correct charges were more than the amount mentioned by the station master and the plaintiff.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rachhpal Singh, J.

1. This is an application in revision by the plaintiff arising out of a Small Cause Court suit instituted by him against the B.B. and C.I. Railway to recover a sum of money on account of damages. The plaintiff wrote a letter to the station master of Agra Fort railway station, a servant of the defendant company, stating that he desired to engage a special train for carrying a barat party from Agra to Hathras Station and inquiring what the minimum charges will be for the same. The station master wrote back that the charges will be Rs. 250. Later on, the station master wrote to the plaintiff that he will have to pay Rs. 25 more in addition to the sum of Rs. 250 and to this the plaintiff agreed by his letter dated 24th February 1937. On 26th February 1937, when the plaintiff went to the railway station he was told that the correct charges were more than the amount mentioned by the station master and the plaintiff therefore had to pay a sum of Rs. 320 in addition to Rs. 275 which had been agreed upon before. The plaintiff instituted a suit in the Court below to recover a sum of Rs. 320 which he had to pay in excess of the amount agreed upon. The suit has been dismissed by the learned Judge of the Court below and the plaintiff has come up in revision. The plaintiff's contention was that the station master, an agent of the railway company, had agreed that the charges would be Rs. 275 and so in these circumstances the railway company was not entitled to charge anything more but was bound by the contract entered into by the defendant. The learned Judge of the Court below has repelled this contention. Learned counsel for the plaintiff-applicant referred to Macnamara's Law of Carriers by Land, Edn. 2, p. 192. It is stated there that

a railway company are bound, in the course of their business as carriers, by the contract of the agent whom they put forward as having the management of that part of their business.

2. Reliance is also placed on Halsbury's Laws of England, Vol. 22, para. 395, p. 218, where it is laid down that

where the servant, whilst acting in the ordinary course of his employment on his master's behalf, makes a contract which falls within the apparent scope of his authority, the master cannot escape liability on the ground that he did not authorize the making of the contract....

3. Reliance was also placed on Winkfield v. Packington (1827) 2 Car &P; 599. In that case it was held that if, before sending goods by a carrier, the sender applies at his wharf to know at what price certain goods will be carried, and he is told by the clerk who is transacting the business there, 2s. 6d. per cet., and on the faith of this he sends the goods, the carrier cannot charge more, although it be proved that the carrier had previously charged all goods according to a printed book of rates in which 3s. 6d. per cwt. of the goods was set down for goods of the sort in question. In deciding the question it must be borne in mind that in this country the cases between carriers by rail and other parties are to be governed with reference to the Contract Act and the Railways Act. In the present case the defendant company pleaded that the information given by their servant to the plaintiff was incorrect and that when the plaintiff went to the railway station to purchase his tickets for the special train the mistake was found out and the plaintiff was asked to pay the entire amount actually chargeable before he could get the tickets. Under Section 47, Railways Act (Act 9 of 1890) the Railway Company have the powers to make rules. One of the rules which they have made and which is applicable to all passengers is that the passengers have to pay the railway fares fixed by the railways. The rules made by the railways as regards fares, etc., are to be found in the Coaching Tariff. Rule 23 of the Coaching Tariff of the defendant company says:

The railway reserves the right to correct any charges that may have been incorrectly made and to recover undercharges from whatever cause arising.

4. This puts the plaintiff out of Court at once. The correct position as regards such contracts is described in Pollock's Law of Contract, Edn. 10, p. 48. It is stated as follows:

When a railway passenger (to take the simple example) asks for a ticket, he is not concluding a contract but at most offering to be carried by the company on the terms to which he knows, or as a reasonable man should know, the company will agree. But it appears on reflection that he is not oven making an offer but only opening communications leading to an offer and acceptance. The ticket is issued in regular course only against payment, so that the Railway Company (or other purveyor of services to the public in a like position as the case may be) makes an offer by tendering the ticket, and the contract is formed only by acceptance of the ticket immediately after payment of the fare. This is the view taken, though not always explicitly stated, in the line, by this time numerous, of authorities on such cases.

5. As regards the liability of the defendant for a contract entered into by his agent, it is enough to say that the agent, did not act within the scope of his authority when he informed the plaintiff that the fare would be Rs. 275. In Halsbury's Law of England, Vol. 22, Hailsham edition, para. 390, p. 215, it is stated that

where a servant, acting under the express instructions of his master, enters into a contract with a third person, the master is liable to the third person upon the contract, provided that the servant, in making the contract, has strictly observed the tenor of his instructions.

6. In view of this statement of law let us consider the position of the Station Master of the defendant. The Station Master is certainly an agent of the defendant company. It was within the scope of his authority to enter into contracts with passengers for carrying them on payment of correct fare. In a case like this, it cannot be said that it is open to a servant of the Railway Company to agree to any rate whether it be correct or incorrect. On the other hand, it is manifest that a railway servant is bound to charge the correct rates of fares as mentioned in the Coaching Tariff. If he makes any contract in accordance with the terms of the Coaching Tariff the Railway Company will certainly be bound by it. This may be a case where the railway servant in discharge of his duties as such agrees to let a passenger have a ticket for a smaller sum, and later on it is found that owing to the issue of a fresh Coaching Tariff of which the Station Master had no notice, he was bound to charge more. But such is not the case here. To me it is clear that if the servant of the defendant company ignores the provisions of the Coaching Tariff then the contract made by him as regards the amount of fare with a passenger is not binding on the Railway Company. Rule 23 of the Coaching Tariff, to which a reference has already been made, is a clear notice to the passengers that the Railway Company will have a right to correct any charges that may have been incorrectly made and to recover undercharges from whatever cause arising. Under the law I think it will be implied that when a passenger makes a contract with the railway he does so with full notice of the conditions in the Coaching Tariff and the contract is subject to those conditions. The case referred by the learned Counsel for the plaintiff is not applicable because we do not know whether in that case there was any condition like the one which we find in the Coaching Tariff of the defendant company. The defendant railway, it has to be noticed, was not repudiating the contract made between the plaintiff and their agent, the Station Master. The contract was that the defendant company will place at the disposal of the plaintiff a special train. That contract the Railway Company was always prepared to perform and did perform. What really happened was that before the plaintiff could purchase the tickets the mistake made by the defendant company's agent was discovered, that he had given intimation to the plaintiff that a smaller amount would be charged than the amount which the Railway Company were entitled to get under the rules made in their Coaching Tariff. They had, as I have already pointed out, full right to do so. For the reasons given above I am of opinion that the suit against the Railway Company was rightly dismissed. The result is that the revision application is dismissed with costs.


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