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Patiala Biscuit Manufacturers Pvt. Ltd. Vs. the Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElectricity
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 357 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1973P& H259
ActsIndian Limitation Act, 1908 - Schedule - Articles 62 and 120
AppellantPatiala Biscuit Manufacturers Pvt. Ltd.
RespondentThe Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala
Cases ReferredMoses v. Macfarlon
Excerpt:
..... - nilmoni singh deo, (1877) ilr 2 cal 393, that the article (62), when it speaks of a suit for money received by the defendant for the plaintiff's use, points to the well known english action in that form; macfarlon, (1760) 2 burr 1005, this form of action lies for money paid by mistake, or upon a consideration, which happens to fail, or for money got through imposition (express or implied) or extortion or oppression or an undue advantage taken of the plaintiff's situation contrary to laws made for the protection of persons under those circumstances, in other words, this form of action would be maintainable. 11. there is no manner of doubt that in paragraph 14 of the plaint, the plaintiff has clearly stated that the amount of rs. taking into consideration all the circumstances of..........to runfor money payable by the defendant three years. when money is receivedto the plaintiff for money received by thedefendant for the plaintiff's use.6. article 120 of the same schedule says:'suit for which no period of limitation is six years. when the right toprovided elsewhere in this schedule. sue accrues.7. it is, therefore, clear that article 120 will only be applicable, if it could be shown that the case was not covered by article 62. it is the common case of both parties that there is no other article, which applies to the fact of the present case. previously, various high courts had been taking different stands regarding the interpretation of article 62. but the matter has now been set at rest by the supreme court decision in a. venkata subbarao v. state of andhra pradesh,.....
Judgment:

Prem Chand Pandit, J.

1. The only point for decision in this appeal is whether the plaintiff's suit has been rightly held to be barred by limitation.

2. Patiala Biscuit Manufacturers, which is a private Limited Company having its registered office at Rajpura, brought a suit for the recovery of Rs. 23,895.96 (Rs. 17570/9-as principal and the rest as interest) against the Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala, on account of refund of excess electric charged received by the defendant. The case of the plaintiff was that it had entered into an agreement with the erstwhile Pepsu State on 23rd February, 1953, with regard to the supply of electric energy for industrial purposes. The electric connection for the same was granted on 31st March, 1953. On 30th March, 1953, another agreement was made regarding electric connection for domestic purposes and this was granted in April 1953. According to the plaintiff, it was a bulk consumer and the electric charges were, therefore, to be paid by it on concessional rates. The Public Works Department, Electricity Branch, sent the first bill on the basis of concessional rates and the said bill was duly paid. Thereafter, the Department sent a revised bill for a higher amount, which necessitated the plaintiff to make a representation that the bill purported to overcharge them.

The plaintiff's case is that the Government later on accepted the representation and reduced the rates. Then again, the Assistant Engineer of the Electricity Department informed the plaintiff by a letter that it will be charged at the higher rate. Along with the letter he also sent two bills for a total amount of Rs. 17,570/9-. On this, the plaintiff made another representation to the Chief Engineer, Public Works Department, requesting for the cancellation of those bills and also praying that the date for the payment of the said bills be extended. On 15th April, 1955, the Executive Engineer, Public Works Department informed the plaintiff that the date would not be extended, but the amount might be paid under protest. The plaintiff actually deposited the money on 28th May, 1955, so that penalty might not be levied on it. However, the plaintiff went on sending reminders for the refund of the excess amount charged by the Department, which continued informing the plaintiff that the matter was under consideration. Finally, on 20th August 1960, the Chief Engineer intimated the plaintiff that his request for refund of the amount in question was not accepted and the same had been finally turned down. That led to the filing of the present suit on 12th May, 1961.

3. The suit was contested and one of the pleas taken up by the defendant was that the same was barred by limitation. A preliminary issue to that effect was struck by the trial Court and it was decided in favour of the defendant. The trial Judge held that the suit was covered by Article 62 of the Limitation Act and not Article 120 as contended by the plaintiff. Against that decision, the present appeal has been filed by the plaintiff.

4. As I have already said, the sole point for consideration is whether the suit had been filed within limitation. That will depend on whether Article 62 or 120 of the Indian Limitation Act applied to the instant case. It is common ground that the old limitation Act of 1908 will govern this case.

5. Article 62 of The First Schedule to the Limitation Act reads:--

'Description of Suit. Period of Limitation Time from which period begins to runFor money payable by the defendant Three years. When money is receivedto the plaintiff for money received by thedefendant for the plaintiff's use.

6. Article 120 of the same schedule says:

'Suit for which no period of limitation is six years. when the right toprovided elsewhere in this schedule. sue accrues.

7. It is, therefore, clear that Article 120 will only be applicable, if it could be shown that the case was not covered by Article 62. It is the common case of both parties that there is no other Article, which applies to the fact of the present case. Previously, various High Courts had been taking different stands regarding the interpretation of Article 62. But the matter has now been set at rest by the Supreme Court decision in A. Venkata Subbarao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1965 SC 1773. In the said case, the circumstances in which Article 62 would be attracted have been laid down. It has been held that in order to attract Article 62, it is not necessary that at the moment of the receipt of money, the defendant should have actually intended to receive it for the use of the plaintiff and that it is sufficient if the receipt is in such circumstances that the law would impute to him an obligation to retain it for the use of the plaintiff and refund to him when demanded.

8. Strictly on the language employed in Article 62, however one had to see whether the money for the recovery of which the suit was being brought had been received by the defendant for the plaintiff's use at the time when it was received by him. In the instant case the plaintiff was ready to pay the electric charges at concessional rates and it was actually doing so in the beginning, but the defendant did not want to give any concession, and therefore, desired that the plaintiff should pay at the higher rate. It is true that correspondence went on between the plaintiff and some officers of the Electricity Department and the latter did inform the plaintiff that the matter was under consideration and ultimately the request of the plaintiff was turned down. If the plaintiff had not paid the amount demanded by the Department, obviously penalty would have been imposed on it and on its remaining unpaid, the electric connection would have been cut off. On the language used in Article 62 it may perhaps be difficult to say that in the instant case, the money had been originally received by the defendant for the plaintiff's use, because the defendant directed the plaintiff to pay at the higher rate to which according to them, they were fully entitled. It was not as if the defendant was demanding this amount from the plaintiff in order to keep it for the latter's use. The plaintiff was also paying it not of its own accord, but under pressure, because otherwise the Department would have imposed penalty on it and subsequently cut off the former's electric connection and thereby it would have suffered immensely.

9. But, as I have already said, we are not concerned with these matters now after the above Supreme Court ruling. The said Court has categorically approved of the decision of Sir Asutosh Mookerjee J. in Mahomed Wahib v. Mahomed Ameer, (1905) ILR 32 Cal 527, At page 533 Mookerjee J. had observed:

' It seems to me to be clear as pointed out by Markby J. in Raghumoni Audhikary v. Nilmoni Singh Deo, (1877) ILR 2 Cal 393, that the Article (62), when it speaks of a suit for money received by the defendant for the plaintiff's use, points to the well known English action in that form; consequently the Article ought to apply wherever the defendant has received money which in justice and equity belongs to the plaintiff under circumstances which in law render the receipt of it a receipt by the defendant to the use of the plaintiff. As pointed out by Lord Mansfield, C. J., in Moses v. Macfarlon, (1760) 2 Burr 1005, this form of action lies for money paid by mistake, or upon a consideration, which happens to fail, or for money got through imposition (express or implied) or extortion or oppression or an undue advantage taken of the plaintiff's situation contrary to laws made for the protection of persons under those circumstances, in other words, this form of action would be maintainable. In cases in which the defendant at the time of receipt, in fact or by presumption or fiction of law receives the money to the use of the plaintiff's: see also Keener on Quasi Contracts Page 180.'

10. From what has been stated above, it is clear that if the money had been paid by the plaintiff under extortion or oppression or through imposition (express or implied) or because an undue advantage had been taken of the plaintiffs situation, then the Article applicable would be 62. Keeping these observations in mind, let us see what the plaintiff's own case is as set out in the plaint.

11. There is no manner of doubt that in paragraph 14 of the plaint, the plaintiff has clearly stated that the amount of Rs. 17570/9-was paid under protest on 28th May, 1955, in order to avoid levy of penalty. It was again the case of the plaintiff that the said amount was not legally recoverable from it. In view of this position, there is no escape from the conclusion that the amount had been paid by the plaintiff under protest in order to avoid the levy of penalty and also the cutting off the electric connection. On the plaintiff's own stand, therefore, the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Venkata Subbarao's case AIR 1965 SC 1773 will be applicable and the present case would be governed by Article 62 of the Limitation Act. That being so, there is no force in this appeal, which is, consequently, dismissed. Taking into consideration all the circumstances of this case, however, we will direct that the parties to bear their own costs in this Court as well.

Bhupinder Singh Dhillon, J.

12. I agree.

13. Appeal dismissed.


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