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Smt. Umraji Vs. R.C. Bajpai - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 2019 of 1983
Judge
Reported in1985MPLJ638
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 110 and 110A; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 115
AppellantSmt. Umraji
RespondentR.C. Bajpai
Appellant AdvocateK.L. Issrani, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateH.S. Dube, Adv.
DispositionRevision allowed
Excerpt:
- - umraji then complained of this fact to shri d. umraji, who had made these false accusations against him to the state bar council as well as in the high court. umraji was, therefore, clearly illegal and it amounted to directing payment to an unauthorised person on account of which the order is clearly revisable. i cannot help recording my strong disapproval of these acts of both the gentlemen. failure to discharge this duty vigilantly, either due to negligence or design, must be strongly deprecated......dated 30-11-1982 contains the tribunal's direction for preparation of the voucher in the name of shri bajpai, stating therein that smt. umraji had agreed to preparation of the voucher in the name of shri r.c. bajpai. it is significant that the petitioner's earlier application filed through shri ayachi for payment only to her by preparation of the voucher in her name was not withdrawn and there was no difficulty in making the payment directly to her instead of through an intermediary.3. admittedly, the entire amount of rs. 36,798.85 was then paid to shri r.c. bajpai, who deposited a sum of rs. 15,000/- in the bank in the names of the minor children of the deceased. it is at this stage that the controversy between smt. umraji and shri r.c. bajpai deepened. according to the initial.....
Judgment:
ORDER

J.S. Verma, J.

1. This civil revision arises out of unusual circumstances. The petitioner Smt. Umraji is an illiterate and indigent widow, who lost her husband Sangram in a fatal motor accident. Smt. Umraji then filed a claim on behalf of herself and her five minor children for recovery of compensation under Section 110-A of the Motor Vehicles Act, before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Jabalpur. It was claim case No. 74 of 1979, decided on 23-8-1982, by Shri D.P. Shukla, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Jabalpur. According to the award, Rs. 29,700/- together with interest and costs, amounting in all to Rs. 36,789.85 was to be paid to the claimants. Out of the principal amount a sum of Rs. 15,000/- was awarded as compensation to the minor children, while the remaining amount was to be paid to Smt. Unraji, widow of the deceased.

2. Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, was engaged by Smt. Umraji as her counsel in the above claim case. On 6-9-1982, an application was made by the petitioner Smt. Umraji to the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal for issue of recovery certificate under Section 110-B of the Motor Vehicles Act. Shri R.C. Bajpai appeared as counsel for the petitioner. On 24-11-1982, the petitioner Smt. Umraji engaged another counsel, Shri G. S. Ayachi, Advocate, and filed an application in the Tribunal through Shri Ayachi, stating that the insurer had remitted the amount to the Tribunal by a Bank draft and the amount be paid directly to the petitioner herself by preparing a voucher in her own name. It was also stated therein that this payment to the petitioner be made, if possible, in the shape of a Bank draft, instead of cash, for reasons of security. The Tribunal, in its order sheet dated 24-11-1982. mentioned this fact and instead of making an order straightway in accordance therewith, directed the case to be listed on 27-11-1982. The case was adjourned on 27-11-1982 to 29-11-1982 and then 30-11-1982. The order dated 30-11-1982 contains the Tribunal's direction for preparation of the voucher in the name of Shri Bajpai, stating therein that Smt. Umraji had agreed to preparation of the voucher in the name of Shri R.C. Bajpai. It is significant that the petitioner's earlier application filed through Shri Ayachi for payment only to her by preparation of the voucher in her name was not withdrawn and there was no difficulty in making the payment directly to her instead of through an intermediary.

3. Admittedly, the entire amount of Rs. 36,798.85 was then paid to Shri R.C. Bajpai, who deposited a sum of Rs. 15,000/- in the Bank in the names of the minor children of the deceased. It is at this stage that the controversy between Smt. Umraji and Shri R.C. Bajpai deepened. According to the initial version of Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, the entire remaining amount of Rs. 21,798.85 was paid by him in cash to the petitioner Smt. Umraji on 21-12-1982, after he had deposited the amount of Rs. 15,000/- in the names of the minors in the Bank and in this manner the total amount of Rs. 36,798.85 received by him on behalf of the petitioner Smt. Umraji, had been paid to her, retaining nothing with himself. Smt. Umraji however, contended that in addition to the deposit of Rs. 15,000/-in the Bank in the names of the minor children, Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, had paid her nothing and, therefore, she had been deprived of the remaining amount of Rs. 21,798.85 by Shri R.C. Bajpai, who had withdrawn and then retained the amount without any authority.

4. On 24-12-1982, the petitioner Smt Umraji gave a written notice to Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, demanding payment of the balance amount of Rs. 21,798.85 to her, Shri R.C. Bajpai sent a reply dated 3-1-1983 to the petitioner Smt. Umraji denying the allegation and expressing surprise at the petitioner's notice, mentioning therein that he had paid the entire amount of Rs. 21,798.85 in cash to her on the same day, i.e. 21-12-1982 and had also obtained a receipt to this effect. The petitioner Smt. Umraji then complained of this fact to Shri D.P. Shukla, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, but on getting no relief from him, she filed a complaint to the State Bar Council against Shri R.C. Bajpai, making this allegation. The matter was taken up by the Disciplinary Committee of the State Bar Council, which initiated an enquiry into the matter. In view of the delay, Smt. Umraji made an application dated 19-12-1983 to the Chief Justice of this Court, repeating her accusation against Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate. The application made by Smt, Umraji was treated as a revision under Section 115, C.P.C. This is the manner in which this revision arises.

5. Notice was issued to Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, in exercise of suo motu powers of revision for the purpose of examining the legality of the order made by Shri D.P. Shukla, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, directing payment of the amount to Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, in spite of the petitioner Smt. Umraji making an express application prior to it for payment of the amount only to her, preferably in the form of a Bank draft, instead of cash, after engaging another counsel, Shri G.S. Ayachi, for this purpose. The question, which arose in the revision was whether, in these circumstances, the Tribunal was justified in directing payment to Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, as authorised representative of Smt. Umraji, when prior to the direction for payment to Shri Bajpai, his authority as an authorised representative of Smt. Umraji has been withdrawn not only by engaging another counsel, namely, Shri G.S. Ayachi, but also by filing an application on 24-11-1982, expressly stating that the payment be made only to her by preparation of a voucher in her name and it be done in the form of a Bank draft, instead of cash.

6. In view of the fact that the petitioner Smt. Umraji is an indigent and illiterate widow, who merely affixes her thumb mark, Shri K.L. Issrani, Advocate, was requested to appear as amicus curiae for her and she has been given legal aid.

7. In response to the notice issued to Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, he filed his reply on 12-1-1984, supported by an affidavit, in which he reiterated payment of the entire amount of Rs. 36,798.85 to the petitioner by depositing Rs. 15,000/- in the names of the minors in Bank and payment in cash of the remaining amount of Rs. 21,798.85 to the petitioner Smt. Umraji on 21-12-1982. He also produced a receipt, purporting to bear the thumb mark of the petitioner Smt. Umraji, admitting receipt of Rs. 21,798.85 by her on 21-12-1982. In short, Shri R.C. Bajpai denied the allegations made by the petitioner and asserted that they were false. The petitioner Smt. Umraji then filed a rejoinder on 27-1-1984, reiterating her stand that apart from deposit of Rs. 15,000/-in the names of the minors in the Bank, Shri R.C. Bajpai had not paid anything to her, much less the balance amount of Rs. 21,798.85. Execution of any receipt by her was also denied. She also asserted that during the trial of the claim case, Shri R.C. Bajpai used to take her thumb impression on several blank papers saying that they were needed for conducting the case and it was likely that he had used one such blank paper bearing her thumb mark for forging a receipt. Thereafter, Shri R.C. Bajpai filed a further reply calling it a rejoinder on 10-2-1984, in which he once again refuted the allegation and asserted that he had paid the entire amount to the petitioner Smt. Umraji, who had made these false accusations against him to the State Bar Council as well as in the High Court.

8. In view of the consistent version of the petitioner Smt. Umraji, making the above allegation against Shri R.C. Bajpai and an equally emphatic denial of the same on affidavit by Shri R.C. Bajpai, it became necessary to hold an enquiry into the disputed facts. Accordingly, by order dated 20-2-1984, the Addl. Registrar (Judl.) was directed to record evidence of both sides. It was at this stage that Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, altered his stand and resiled from his assertion of having made the entire payment to the petitioner Smt. Umraji and, therefore, recording of evidence as directed earlier, became unnecessary.

9. On 24-3-1984, Shri R.C. Bajpai paid a sum of Rs. 15,000/- to Smt. Umraji, which payment she has admitted and an application dated 7-4-1984 was filed bearing the thumb mark of the petitioner Smt. Umraji praying that the matter be closed The case was taken up on 16-4-1984, when Smt. Umraji admitted having made this application (LA. No. 2193/84) for dismissing the revision, treating the matter as settled in view of the amount of Rs. 15,000/-being paid to her on 24-3-1984. From this altered stand of Shri R.C. Bajpai, it is clear that his earlier version was false and he did not hesitate to file an affidavit making a false statement, and that the payment made so far to Smt. Umraji was not of the entire balance amount of Rs. 21,798.85 but only of Rs. 15,000/- out of it.

10. Accordingly Shri R.C. Bajpai was required to consider his position in the light of these facts and to give out his final stand. Time was granted to Shri Bajpai for this purpose. Thereafter, on 2-5-1984, Shri R.C. Bajpai was asked'to give full particulars of the total amount received by him on behalf of the petitioner Smt. Umraji in the claim case and of its utilisation thereafter. Shri R.C. Bajpai stated that the total amount received by him from the Claims Tribunal was Rs. 36,798.85 out of which he had deposited Rs. 15,000/-only in the State Bank of India, Tularam Chowk Jabalpur, in the names of the minor children and thereafter paid Rs. 15,000/- only on 24-3-1984 to the petitioner Smt. Umraji. In this manner, a total sum of Rs. 30,000/- only had been paid by Shri R.C. Bajpai to Smt. Umraji and the minor children, retaining the remaining amount of Rs. 6,798.85 with himself. On being repeatedly asked to give particulars of utilisation of this remaining amount of Rs. 6,798.85, he merely mentioned that the amount of Rs. 800/- was utilised as expenses in conduct of the claim case on behalf of the petitioner Smt. Umraji, After adjusting the same, the ultimate balance left was Rs. 6,000/- Shri R.C. Bajpai, in spite of repeated enquiry, remained silent and did not disclose the reason for not paying this remaining amount of Rs. 6.000/- to the petitioner Smt. Umraji.

11. Smt. Umraji was then asked the reason for filing the application (I. A. No. 2193/84) for treating the matter as closed, when she had not received the entire amount from Shri Bajpai. To this she stated that she had merely bought peace on getting the sum of Rs. 15,000/- from Shri R.C. Bajpai on 24-3-1984. out of the remaining amount of Rs. 21,798.85, which he had withdrawn and then retained without authority. All these facts are mentioned in the order sheet dated 2-5-1984. Shri Bajpai was then given further time till 4-5-1984, to account for utilisation of the remaining aforesaid balance of Rs. 6,000/-

On 4-5-1984, Shri Bajpai merely filed an application stating that the petitioner Smt. Umraji had settled her claim with him on payment of Rs. 15.000/- on 24-3-1984, out of the remaining amount of Rs. 21,798.85, giving the balance to him as his fees and expenses and, therefore, the application signed by her for withdrawal of the matter be accepted. In view of Shri Bajpai's insistence on not disclosing the particulars of utilisation of at least the amount of Rs. 6,000/- admittedly retained by him, there is nothing to indicate that his action is proper. I may, however, mention that the record of the claim case shows that Shri R.C. Bajpai had filed a certificate dated 21-8-1982, admitting receipt of Rs. 1600/- as his fees from the petitioner, as against the scheduled fee of Rs. 750/-. According to this certificate of Shri Bajpai filed on 21-8-1982 prior to making the award on 23-8-1982, he had already received more than twice the scheduled fees and there is nothing to indicate, nor has it been asserted by Shri Bajpai, that he had to recover anything more from her. So far as the expenses are concerned, even accepting Shri Bajpai's version given on 21-5-1984, which is recorded in the order sheet, the total expenses incurred by him amounted to approximately Rs. 800/-and even after deduction of this amount, he was left with a sum of Rs. 6,000/- belonging to the petitioner Smt. Umraji, to retain which he had no justification. In the absence of any justification being given by Shri R.C. Bajpai, in spite of repeated opportunities for the purpose, no other reasonable inference is possible.

12. The question now is of the manner in which this revision should be disposed of. In view of the fact that the petitioner Smt. Umraji had filed an application of 24-11-1982 through another counsel, Shri G. S. Ayachi, along with a Vakalatnama, appointing Shri G.S. Ayachi as her counsel and had expressly stated in the application that payment be made only to her by preparing a voucher in her name, preferably by a Bank draft, it is obvious that the earlier authority, if any, given in general terms in the Vakalatnama given by her to Shri R.C. Bajpai had been superseded and withdrawn, so that Shri R.C. Bajpai ceased to be her authorised agent for the purpose of receiving payment on her behalf. The order made by Shri D.P. Shukla on 30-11-1982 directing preparation of the voucher in the name of Shri R.C. Bajpai, notwithstanding the written application dated 24-11-1982 of the petitioner Smt. Umraji was, therefore, clearly illegal and it amounted to directing payment to an unauthorised person on account of which the order is clearly revisable. No doubt, the order sheet dated 30-11-1982 mentions the oral consent of the petitioner for preparation of voucher in the name of Shri Bajpai, but the correctness of that is difficult to accept in the face of the express prayer made in the petitioner's application dated 24-11-1982, which application she had admittedly not withdrawn. A fresh written authority of the petitioner in favour of Shri R.C. Bajpai was necessary thereafter to constitute Shri R.C. Bajpai an agent of the petitioner but the same was never given. Mere mention of her oral consent in the order sheet did not invest Shri Bajpai with that authority to enable him to receive payment on petitioner's behalf. It is indeed intriguing that the Tribunal overlooked this obvious fact and insisted on making the payment to Shri R.C. Bajpai instead of the petitioner, who was present with Shri Ayachi, a counsel of her choice to receive the payment.

13. The Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, Shri D.P. Shukla in directing payment of the amount to Shri R.C. Bajpai, even in such a situation, acted in a rather unusual manner for which the record does not show sufficient justification. In this context, the silence of Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, to explain utilisation of the balance amount of Rs. 6,000/-bears some significance. However, in view of the final stand taken by Shri R.C. Bajpai admitting the facts stated by the petitioner, a further inquiry in this behalf does not appear necessary.

14. From the admissions made by Shri R.C. Bajpai, it is clear that he has retained with himself at least the sum of Rs, 6,000/-due to the petitioner Smt. Umraji and for this retention he has not even attempted to give any justification. It has already been held that the order made by Shri D.P. Shukla, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, for payment of the amount of compensation to Shri R.C. Bajpai who had ceased to be an authorised agent of the petitioner for this purpose, was unjustified and without the authority of law. That order can, therefore, be set aside, requiring restitution to the extent of Rs. 6,000/- only, which remains to be paid to the petitioner.

15. The only surviving question now is whether the above direction should be given, when the petitioner Smt. Umraji admits having filed the application (I. A. No. 2193/84) for dismissing the revision as not pressed. In my opinion, that application is not an impediment to such a direction being made in this revision. As already stated, the petitioner Smt. Umraji is an indigent and illiterate woman, who has filed this application merely to buy peace, when admittedly a sum of Rs. 6,000/- still remains to be paid to her by Shri R.C. Bajpai. She also stated expressly on 2-5-1984 as mentioned in the order sheet, that she is not prepared to give up this amount. There is also no reason for her to do so. This application is, therefore, not filed willingly of her own volition, such an application procured from the petitioner should not, therefore, be an impediment in the way of making a suitable direction for the ends of justice. For this reason, I decline to dismiss the revision as not pressed on the basis of this application, which has not been made voluntarily by the petitioner. An order on merits is, therefore, called for in this revision.

16. Consequently, this revision is allowed. The order of Shri D.P. Shukla, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, directing payment of the decretal amount to Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, by preparation of a voucher in his name instead of the petitioner's name, is set aside. The result is that the amount admittedly received by Shri R.C. Bajpai, as a consequence of that the order, is to be returned by him for payment of that amount to the petitioner Smt. Umraji. In view of the fact that out of that amount, a sum of Rs. 6,000/- only remains with Shri R.C. Bajpai, the rest having been paid by him to the claimants, a direction for recovery of the balance amount of Rs. 6,000/-only from Shri R.C. Bajpai is necessary. Accordingly it is directed that the sum of Rs. 6,000/- only shall be recovered from Shri R.C. Bajpai and the same shall be paid to the petitioner Smt. Umraji, by depositing it in her name in a scheduled Bank of her choice. Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, will also pay Rs. 500/- as costs to the petitioner Smt. Umraji. This will be in addition to the payment made on account of the 'petitioner being given legal aid.

17. Before parting with this case, I must record my deep anguish and serious concern at the manner in which an illiterate and indigent widow has suffered aggravation of her misfortune resulting from the premature death of her husband in a motor accident on account of the conduct of Shri R.C. Bajpai, Advocate, whom she engaged as her counsel. This was facilitated by the order of Shri D.P. Shukla, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, who directed payment of the amount to Shri R.C. Bajpai, in spite of the petitioner's insistence that the money be paid to her directly and to none else on her behalf. I cannot help recording my strong disapproval of these acts of both the gentlemen. The Tribunal has a duty to ensure payment of compensation directly to the claimants who have already suffered a misfortune. Failure to discharge this duty vigilantly, either due to negligence or design, must be strongly deprecated. It is to be hoped that the Tribunals will be conscious of this sacred duty at least hereafter to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future. A copy of this order be sent to Shri D.P. Shukla, wherever he is posted.


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