1. This is an appeal by the B.N.-W. Ry. Co., arising out of a suit brought for damages by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs' case was that they had come to Deoria station to celebrate the marriage of a relation and for their return journey required a reserved third class bogie for the marriage party from Deoria to Cawnpore. The railway company agreed to supply the reserved accommodation required provided it was engaged from Bhatni. They then went on to allege that as the arrangement of reserved accommodation was necessary the plaintiffs agreed to pay the additional charge from Bhatni to Deoria, and it was finally settled between the plaintiffs and the defendant that a third class bogie would be attached to 1 Up passenger train from Bhatni. In accordance with this alleged arrangement the plaintiffs sent their servant to Bhatni to purchase 92 third class tickets and asked the station staff to attach the reserved carriage to the train. It is suggested that the station staff were not honest because they wanted some illegal gratification, which was not paid, and that owing to their wilful neglect they omitted to attach the bogie carriage to the train by which the plaintiffs' party was to go to Cawnpore. The result was that when the train arrived there was no reserved carriage available at Deoria and the plaintiffs' party was put to considerable inconvenience, and the plaintiffs to annoyance and disappointment. They claimed Rs. 5,000 as damages, and Rs. 17-4-0, the excess amount of fare realized from them for the journey from Bhatni to Deoria.
2. The defendant-company denied that there was any complete contract between the parties under which the company was bound to provide reserved accommodation. They also denied that there was any dishonesty on the part of their servants and pleaded that, owing to a mistake, the carriage which was intended to be reserved had been returned to Gorakhpur by an earlier train.
3. The learned Subordinate Judge, on the question of fact, came to the conclusion that there was no mistake committed and that a bogie carriage was available at Bhatni, but was not attached to the train by which the plaintiffs' pairokar returned. He did not believe the defendants' story that the carriage had been sent on by mistake earlier in the day. On the question of completeness of the agreement he was of opinion that, although the railway did not make a definite promise to provide reserved accommodation but only promised to make an endeavour to supply the required bogie carriage, nevertheless the plaintiffs' agent did go to Bhatni to purchase tickets, and 92 tickets were sold to him on the understanding that reserved accommodation would be available. In his opinion therefore the contract was complete as soon as the tickets were issued.
4. Before us there has been much controversy as to whether the carriage was available at Bhatni and had been dishonestly kept back, or whether it had been previously dispatched by mistake. The papers relating to Bhatni station do show that the carriage had been dispatched by an earlier train. The evidence of the station staff at Bhatni is also to the same effect. No papers of the Gorakhpur station, showing that the carriage had been returned by an earlier train were produced by the company, and it is contended before us that such papers have since been destroyed. As, however, we think that the suit must fail on the ground that no complete undertaking to provide a reserved carriage had been given, it is not necessary for us to go into the question whether the finding of the Court below, that there was, dishonesty practised by the station staff at Bhatni, is or is not correct. The plaintiffs' case in the plaint was that the contract was complete long before their agent went to Bhatni. This has not been accepted by the Court below and is contradicted by the purport of the reply sent by the railway company to the plaintiffs' application. On the 5th July 1922, the plaintiffs had applied for a reserved carriage from Deoria to Cawnpore. The Officiating Traffic Manager replied to this letter saying that he regretted that a reserved carriage could not be provided by the train from tahsil Deoria, but that endeavours were being made to provide one from Bhatni to Cawnpore by the same train. In pursuance of this suggestion he no doubt issued orders to the subordinate staff that a reserved carriage should be supplied. A carriage intended to be reserved subsequently was undoubtedly dispatched from Gorakhpur to Bhatni, but no reserved carriage was available when the train arrived at Deoria. There is no doubt that the plaintiffs were put to considerable inconvenience, annoyance and disappointment, and there is also no doubt that the failure to provide reserved accommodation was not due to any disinclination on the part of the Assistant Traffic Manager to provide one, but to the carelessness, to say the least, of the staff at Bhatni.
5. At the same time it cannot be disputed that the Officiating Traffic Manager never agreed to provide the reserved carriage unconditionally. He never guaranteed that any such carriage would be available, but promised that endeavours would be made to provide one. This reply, in our opinion, successfully establishes the fact that there was no complete agreement between the plaintiffs and the railway company for providing a reserved carriage. The mere fact that necessary tickets were issued by the booking clerk at Bhatni does not amount to a completion of any fresh contract. As pointed out above, it was not even the plaintiffs' case that the contract was completed as soon as the tickets were sold to the plaintiffs' agent.
6. The plaintiffs' party travelled from Deoria to Cawnpore. The company therefore had no right to charge for the fares from Bhatni to Deoria. They, however, offered to refund Rs. 17-4-0, the excess fare charged for the journey between Bhatni and Deoria.
7. We are, therefore, of opinion that in view of there being no complete contract the claim for damages cannot be allowed. The plaintiffs, however, are entitled to recover Rs. 17-4-0, which they paid as excess fare to the company. It is also clear that the whole trouble has arisen owing to the gross neglect of the station staff at Bhatni, and that the plaintiffs have undoubtedly been put to considerable inconvenience We accordingly allow this appeal and modifying the decree of the Court below dismiss the plaintiffs' claim for damages, but uphold the decree for Rs. 17-4-0, the excess fare. In view of the circumstances stated above we direct that the parties should bear their own costs in both Courts.