1. This application for revision against a decree and order of the Judge of the Small Cause Court of Shikohabad has some peculiar features. One Jagannath wished to institute two civil suits against Lala Pati Ram valued at Rs. 500. He had no money to pay court fees and other expensas. The applicant Babu Ram however undertook to raise the necessary amount by subscription, and he proceeded to do so on the understanding that if the suits were successful, half the decretal amount would be paid to the subscribers. The present plaintiff-opposite party, Ram Charan Lal, was one of the subscribers, and he paid on two occasions sums of Rs. 12 and 55 to Babu Ram, who handed the money over to the pleader Jagannatb Prasad for the purchase of the stamps. For some reason or other the parties fell out, and the plaintiff-opposite-party brought the present suit against the applicant Babu Ram and the pleader for the recovery of the amount which he had subscribed. The trial Court for reasons given at some length in the judgment gave a decree against both to the extent of EH. 55 against the pleader and Rs. 12 against Babu Ram. Curiously enough the present application against this decree and order is made by Babu Ram on the ground that the whole of the amount should have been decreed against him, and none of it against the pleader. Apparently his object in undertaking the burden is to obtain a clear field for proceeding against the pleader on account of some private dispute between them. However that may be it is obvious that there was no privity of contract between the pleader and the plaintiff and that if a decree could be given at all in the circumstances of the case it should have been given, against Babu Ram alone.
2. I think however it is necessary to interfere with the orders passed on another ground which has been mentioned by Mr. johari on behalf of the applicant in the course of his argument, viz., that to give a decree in such circumstances would be against public policy. The law of champerty has been described by their Lordships of the Privy Council in the case of Ram Coomar Coondoo v. Chunder Canto Mookerjee (1876) 2 Cal. 233 in the following words:
An agreement to supply funds to carry on a suit in consideration of having a share in the property, if recovered, is not necessarily opposed to public policy, since cases may easily be supposed in which it would be in furtherance of right and justice that a suitor who had a just title to property, and no means to support it, should be assisted in this way. But agreements purporting to be made to meet such cases, when found to be extortionate and unconscionable, so as to be inequitable, or to be entered into for improper objects, as for the purpose of gambling in litigation, or of injuring others by encouraging unrighteous suits, are contrary to public policy, and ought not to have effect given to them.
3. The question of whether the agreement in the present case was extortionate and unconscionable, or whether it was entered into for the purpose of gambling in litigation has not been discussed at all by the trial Court. The plaint does not disclose the nature of the suits which Jagannath wished to institute. All that is said is that he was unable to raise funds for the court-fee, etc., and that Babu Ram therefore undertook to raise them by subscription and that the agreement was that half the decretal amount would be paid to the subscribers. It is quite clear that the burden of proving that the litigation which Jagannath proposed to undertake was a just litigation and that the agreement to finance it was a just and equitable agreement was on the plaintiff. The terms of the agreement by which the subscribers were to receive half the decretal amount appear on the face of them to be inconsistent with any suggestion that the plaintiff and the subscribers) were actuated by proper motives, that is to say by the intention to help a litigant who was unable to finance himself in the pursuit of a proper claim. In other words, the case as stated in the plaint appears to be one for the recovery of a gambling debt, and for this reason I must hold that the suit is opposed to public policy.
4. I therefore allow the application and set aside the decree and order of the trial Court, but in the circumstances, I make no order as to costs, seeing that the applicant has obtained in a wrong cause money which ha cannot be compelled by the Courts to repay.