1. The story which is unfolded in this case shows as to how the Municipal Committee has acted which is not permissible where rule of law prevails.
2. H. R. Aggarwal applied to the Municipal Committee. Sonepat for the grant of a licence to work as Surveyor and Draftsmen within the municipal limits in accordance with the Rules and Bye-laws. The administrator of the Municipal Committee is alleged to have told the applicant and other similar applicants and other similar applicants to donate Rs. 500/- each to the Municipal committee if they wanted the licence. Of course, all this was oral and not in writing. With this understanding the Administrator is alleged to have passed an order for the issue of licence to H.R. Aggarwal and other persons. Admittedly, H. R. Aggarwal deposited the donation of Rs. 500/- on 25-5-1974 because in spite of the order of the Administrator dt 23-5-1974, he was not being granted the licence. That very day he made a protest in writing to the Municipal; Committee, which is proved from Exhibit P. 3 that Rs. 500/- were being extracted for him in the guise of donation in order to issue the licence which was illegal. The receipt of this letter was denied but H. R. Aggarwal has been able to prove it from the employees of the Municipal Committee and from the Receipt and Despatch Register. It is only after the donation was accepted that the licence was issued. Thereafter, H. R. Aggarwal filed a suit against the Municipal committee for the return of Rs. 500/- which was decreed by the trial Court after recording a finding that it was not a donation voluntarily made but the plaintiff was forced by the Municipal committee to party with Rs. 500/-. The plaintiff has supported his case not only from his own statement but also from the statement of P.W. 1, Des Raj, Record Keeper of the Municipal Committee, and from the statement of D.W. 1, Lal Chand, building Inspector of the Municipal Committee, who was produced by the Municipal Committee. Lal Chand in cross-examination admitted that all the licensees donated Rs. 500/- each after consultation with Administrator. Beyond the licence fee, no amount could be accepted by the Municipal Committee and a guise was devised to raise the municipal funds in this way.
3. However, on appeal by the Municipal Committee, the lower Appellate Court reversed the trial Court's judgment and decree. It was of the opinion that the plaintiff failed to prove that the payment of Rs. 500/- was made under coercion and not voluntarily. This revision by the plaintiff in this Court.
4. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and on perusal of the record, I am of the view that the judgment and decree of the trial Court deserves to be restored. The Municipal Committee is not a religious or charitable body which is to accept donations like this. It is to perform its statutory duty and while granting licences it can direct the person concerned to deposit the requisite licence fee etc. and nothing beyond it. It is clear from the statement of the witness of the Municipal Committee who appeard as D.W. 1 that all the licensees had donated Rs. 500/-. If voluntary donation had to be made, it could not be Rs. 500/- in all the cases and would have been more less according to the pocket or feelings of each of the licensees.
5. It was argued before me by the counsel for the Municipal Committee that several persons had applied for licences and only some got the licences and not all. This argument instead of going the favour of the Municipal Committee rather goes deadly against it because when this argument is read with the statement of Lal Chand D.W. 1, it is clear that those person who deposited Rs. 500/- each, got the licences and those who had not deposited Rs. 500/- did not get the licences.
6. As already stated, when we do not have monarchy rule and are governed by law in a democratic society, the action of the Municipal Committee for accepting such amounts in the guise of voluntary donations and then to say before the Court that it was not by any pressure or prior understanding, does not speak of a fair deal. I can only express my wish that this Municipal Committee and the other Municipal Committee should not resort to such tactics and if funds have to be raised, they should be raised strictly in accordance with law and rules.
7. For the reasons recorded above, this revision is allowed, the judgment and decree of the lower Appellate Court are set aside and those of the trial Court are restored. The plaintiff would be entitled to costs throughout. The Municipal Committee is directed to pay Rs. 500/- along with costs of the first Court, second Court and the costs which the Municipal Committee is alleged to have recovered from the plaintiff under the decree of the lower Appellate Court. Within two months from today. As regards the costs of this Court, the same shall be paid to the plaintiff without delay after they are assessed. The counsel for the Municipal Committee is directed to send the crossed cheques/drafts to the plaintiff directly or to hand over the same to the counsel for the plaintiff in the High Court.
8. Revision allowed.