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Mutsaddi Lal Vs. the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway Company and the Rohilkhand Kumaun Railway - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtAllahabad
Decided On
Judge
Reported in58Ind.Cas.547
AppellantMutsaddi Lal
RespondentThe Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway Company and the Rohilkhand Kumaun Railway
Excerpt:
limitation act (ix of 1908), section 19, schedule i, article 31 - suit by consignor for damages for non-delivery--limitation applicable--acknowledgment, what amounts to--acknowledgment after expiry of limitation, effect of. - - the plaintiff was subsequently informed that it was lying in the lost property office of the bombay, baroda and central india railway and that the plaintiff might take delivery if he liked......to pay to the plaintiff rs. 20 in satisfaction of his claim, but this offer was refused and the present suit was instituted for recovery of rs. 50 as compensation. this sum of rs. 50 was comprised of the following items, namely, rs. 40-3 of or price of the bags; rs. 3130, railway fare, and rs. 6 for loss arising from the non-delivery of the bags in the sale of salt. the court below has dismissed the suit, holding that it was time-barred under article 30 or 31 of schedule i of the indian limitation act. article 30, which provides for a suit for compensation against a carrier for losing or injuring goods, seems to be inapplicable to the present case, inasmuch as the defendants by their letters of the 3rd and 13th of february 1914 informed the plaintiff that the bundle containing his.....
Judgment:

P.C. Banerji, J.

1. The circumstances out of which this case has arisen are these. On the 16th of January 1913 the plaintiff consigned to the Rohilkhand and Kumaun Railway at Ramnagar Station a bundle of gunny bags to be delivered to the Salt Superintendent, Sambhar, on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway line. The bundle was not delivered. The plaintiff was subsequently informed that it was lying in the lost property office of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway and that the plaintiff might take delivery if he liked. No answer seems to have been given to the Railway. Subsequently by a letter of the 17th of March 1916 the Railway offered to pay to the plaintiff Rs. 20 in satisfaction of his claim, but this offer was refused and the present suit was instituted for recovery of Rs. 50 as compensation. This sum of Rs. 50 was comprised of the following items, namely, Rs. 40-3 Of or price of the bags; Rs. 3130, Railway fare, and Rs. 6 for loss arising from the non-delivery of the bags in the sale of salt. The Court below has dismissed the suit, holding that it was time-barred under Article 30 or 31 of schedule I of the Indian Limitation Act. Article 30, which provides for a suit for compensation against a carrier for losing or injuring goods, seems to be inapplicable to the present case, inasmuch as the defendants by their letters of the 3rd and 13th of February 1914 informed the plaintiff that the bundle containing his goods was not lost but was lying in their lost property office because delivery of it had not been claimed by anyone. Article 31, however, seems to me exactly to cover the present case. That Article provides for a suit against a carrier for compensation for non-delivery of or delay in delivering goods. The present suit is against a carrier and it is a suit for compensation for non delivery of the bundle which was consigned to the Railway and was to have been delivered by it. The limitation is one year from the date on which the goods were to have been delivered. In the present case the goods were dispatched on the 16th of January 1913 and at the outside they ought to have been delivered in about a month. Therefore, the right of the plaintiff to sue for compensation arose about the middle of February 1913. The suit, however, was not instituted until the 7th of January 1919. So that on the face of it the claim was instituted long beyond time. That Article 31 applies to a cast of this kind appears from the ruling of this Court in the case of Great Indian Peninsular Railway Company v. Ganpat Rai 10 Ind. Cas. 122 : 33 A. 544 at p. 551 : 8 A.L.J. 543. The same view was taken by the Bombay High Court in the case of Haji Ajaw Goolam Hoosein v. Bombay and Persia Steam Navigation Company 26 B. (sic) at p. 570 : 4 Bom. L.R. 447. It has been urged that Article 31 applies to a suit by the consignee and not, as in this case, by the consignor. This contention if, in my opinion, untenable. The Article is wide enough to include a suit brought by the consignor also. It provides for a suit for compensation for non delivery, that is, a suit by a person who by reason of non-delivery has sustained a loss. There may be cases in which it is not the consignee who sustains loss but the consignor. In such cases it would be a suit by the consignor for compensation for non-delivery, In the present case the consignee had nothing to do with the bags. The consignor had purchase d salt from the Salt Superintendent at Sambhar and was dispatching empty gunny bags for filling them with salt that he had purchased. He was the owner of the bags and the bags were to have come back to him. It is by reason of the non-delivery of the bags that he sustained the loss for which he seeks to be compensated. He sues, to recover the value of the bags as also the damages which he alleges he sustained by reason of the salt not being received by him in time.

2. The next contention on behalf of the applicant is that the letters of the 3rd of February 1914 and the 13th of February 1914 amounted to an acknowledgment of liability. I do not agree with this contention. These letters contain no acknowledgment of any description. They only inform the plaintiff of the fact that the bundle consigned by him was lying at a certain place and his instructions as to its disposal were being awaited. This does not amount to an acknowledgment. The last letter of the 17th of March 1916, if it amounts to an acknowledgment, was a letter written long after the expiry of limitation and cannot save its operation. If Article 31 applies to the present ease, as I hold it does, be plaintiff's right to bring his suit arose in February 1913 and he had one year within which to bring his suit. His claim, if brought, would have been time-barred after February 1914. The letter of the 17th of March 1916 was written long after the claim had he orate time barred. The letter, therefore, would not save the operation of limitation. It is lastly contended that the letter last mentioned amounted to a promise to pay and, therefore, the plaintiff is entitled to recover on the basis of that promise. In my opinion the letter could not be treated as a letter making a definite promise to pay a certain sum of money to the plaintiff. It was a letter offering to settle the claim at a certain amount. That offer was not accepted. The claim is not based upon any promise to pay and cannot be regarded as such. Section 25 of the Contract Act, to which reference was made, does not seem to me to have any bearing upon the present question. I hold that the Court below was right in its view that the claim is time-barred. I accordingly dismiss the application with costs.


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