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Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. Vs. Wearwell Cycles Co. (India) Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 157-D of 1964
Judge
Reported inAIR1977Delhi150
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Order 17
AppellantHindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd.
RespondentWearwell Cycles Co. (India) Ltd.
Appellant Advocate B.N. Kirpal, Adv
Respondent Advocate D.U. Sharma, Adv.
Cases ReferredMahanth Ram Das v. Ganga Das
Excerpt:
.....were not conditional so he will now pay. under the circumstances we are satisfied that the court below. clearly the court thought that it was bound by its own order and had no discretion to give more time to the plain to pay costs. it, thereforee, failed to exercise the discretion which it had in giving the plaintiff some time to pay the adjournment costs under a mistaken view of law......trial court seems to have been under a misapprehension that once a made the payment of adjournment costs conditional, it had no discretion to allow more time to the plaintiff for payment of costs. it, thereforee, failed to exercise the discretion which it had in giving the plaintiff some time to pay the adjournment costs under a mistaken view of law.10. we, thereforee, set aside the order dated 6th june, 1964 dismissing the suit and hold that in the circumstances of the case an opportunity should have been given to the plaintiff to pay the adjournment costs. we order that the parties do appear in the trial court on the 16th november, 1976 and on that date the plaintiff shall pay the adjournment costs to the defendant. thereupon the trial court shall fix the case for evidence of the.....
Judgment:

V.S. Desapandel, J.

1. The suit of the plaintiff-appellant has been dismissed under 0. Xvii, R. 3, Civil Procedure Code. Hence this appeal by the plaintiff. The main question to be considered is whether the plaintiff-appellant committed a 'default' within the meaning of the said' rule so as to justify the dismissal of the suit by the trial Court.

2. The suit was originally brought by m/s. Esso standard eastern Inc. company which was a corporation incorporated in the united states and was thus a foreign company. This foreign company had an undertaking working in India and managed by its Indian subsidiary by the company. This undertaking was acquired by the central government by the Esso(Acquisition of undertakings in India) Act no 4 of 1974.at first, the undertaking vested in the central government. Later, it vested in the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation limited which is a company registered under the Indian companies Act, 1956. An application has, thereforee, been made to this court under O.VI, R.17.civil procedure code by the counsel for the plaintiff appellant on 30th July, 1975 for substitution of Hindustan Petroleum corporation limited in the place of M/s .Esso standard eastern Inc. company the learned counsel for the defendant respondent opposed this application under a misconception. He argued firstly that Act 4 of 1974 acquired the Indian under taking of M/s. Esso Eastern Inc. which is not the same name as M/s. Esso standard Eastern Inc. which is the name or the plaintiff. In answer to this objection, the learned counsel for the plaintiff appellant referred to the certificate dated 22-12-1970, a copy of which has been filed by him on 27th November, 1975. this shows that the former name of the plaintiff company was changed in 1970 to Esso Eastern Inc. The learned counsel for the respondent argues that the said copy was not sufficient evidence to prove the change of name which figures in the Act of 1974. The changes of name of such a world famous corporation is a matter of public knowledge and cognizance of it has been taken by the government and parliament of India. We do not think, thereforee, that it is necessary for the plaintiff appellant to produce more proof of the change of name.

3. Secondly. it was argued by the respondent that the original plaintiff company, Esso Eastern Inc. ceased to exist and with that the suit filed by it abated. But it is precisely to prevent such abatement that Act No. 4 of 1974 provides that such a suit would not abate and that it shall be continued either by the Central Government in which the Indian undertaking of the company vests or by the successor in which the said undertaking would later vest.

4. We, thereforee, allow the application for amendment.

Merits, Of The APPEAL-

5. The suit of the plaintiff was dismissed on 6th June, 1964 by the following order:

'Present:- Counsel for the parties. Plaintiffs were burdened with Rs. 51D costs on the previous date and Rs. 30 on the date previous to that. Plaintiffs were in all to pay Rs. 80 as costs which were conditional but plaintiffs have failed to pay the same and the counsel for the plaintiffs states that costs were not conditional so he will now pay. But my previous orders are quite clear. Costs were conditional and as the plaintiffs are not ready to pay the costs, evidence of the plaintiffs cannot be recorded. The plaintiff's evidence is, thereforee, deemed to be closed.

As the plaintiffs' evidence has been closed and as the burden of all the issues was on the plaintiffs so case is to be deemed to have not been issued thereforee there is no necessity of deciding the issues separately. The suit is thereforee dismissed with costs.'

6. The background of the above order was as follows:- On 22nd February, 1964, the case had been fixed for the evidence of the plaintiff. The process fee and diet money were however, paid late by the plaintiff. The result was that though the summonses duly reached all the witnesses, only one of them could be served. The purpose of paying process fee and diet money early is that repeated service of summons could be attempted. If the process fee and diet money are paid late and only one attempted service can be made, then there is a risk that in one attempt all the witnesses may not be served. The plaintiff was, thereforee to be blamed for the late payment of process fee and diet money and the trial court was justified in granting adjournment subject to payment of Rs. 30 as costs. The trial court also ordered that the plaintiff shall be responsible to get the witnesses served. The next date for the evidence of the plaintiff was 7th April 1964. Again the plaintiff paid process fee late, but fortunately for it, all the witnesses except one were served. The record does not show whether any of the served witnesses attended the court. However, the trial court further levied adjournment costs of Rs. 50 and allowed the previous costs also to be paid on the following date and adjourned the case for the evidence of the plaintiff for 6th June, 1964. Again the court ordered that the plaintiff was to come with the witnesses on its own responsibility. On 6th June, 1964 the counsel for the appellant submitted that the costs imposed were not conditional and were not justified. The court, however, treated the previous order for payment of costs as being conditional to further progress of the suit. The previous order dated 7th April 1964 is in the handwriting of the Reader of the court. It is, thereforee, reasonable to suppose that there may have been some misapprehension in the mind of the counsel as to whether or not the imposition of costs was conditional. The court after perusing the record came to the conclusion that the costs were conditional if that were so, the court ought to have allowed the appellant reasonable time to, pay the costs.

7. The learned counsel for the appellant, Shri Prakash Narain, Advocate (now a judge of this Court), who filed the grounds of appeal has denied that the plaintiff had refused to pay the adjournment costs though the plaintiff could not pay them at the very moment when the case was called out and it wanted the court to hold over the case for a short time so that it may arrange for payment of the adjournment costs. Under the circumstances we are satisfied that the court below. has erred in exercise of its powers under 0. Xvii, R. 3, Civil Procedure Code to decide the suit forthwith.

8. Further, the court dismissed the suit merely because the payment of adjournment costs had been made conditional. Clearly the court thought that it was bound by its own order and had no discretion to give more time to the plain to pay costs. In this view, the trial court was in error. The trial court always had the discretion to give time to the plaintiff for the payment of adjournment costs. If any authority were needed, it is provided by Mahanth Ram Das v. Ganga Das, : [1961]3SCR763 .

9. As a rule this Court would not interfere with the discretion of the trial court in deciding the suit forthwith under 0. Xvii, R. 3, Civil Procedure Code. But in this particular case, the trial court seems to have been under a misapprehension that once A made the payment of adjournment costs conditional, it had no discretion to allow more time to the plaintiff for payment of costs. It, thereforee, failed to exercise the discretion which it had in giving the plaintiff some time to pay the adjournment costs under a mistaken view of law.

10. We, thereforee, set aside the order dated 6th June, 1964 dismissing the suit and hold that in the circumstances of the case an opportunity should have been given to the plaintiff to pay the adjournment costs. We order that the parties do appear in the trial court on the 16th November, 1976 and on that date the plaintiff shall pay the adjournment costs to the defendant. Thereupon the trial court shall fix the case for evidence of the plaintiff giving the plaintiff due opportunity for payment of process fee and diet money to summon its witnesses through court without making the plaintiff responsible for enforcing the attendance of the witnesses. If the witnesses remain absent after service, it is open to the trial court to refuse to adjourn the case unless the plaintiff prays for the issue of warrants of arrest against such witnesses. In the circumstances, we order the parties to bear their own costs in this appeal.

11. Appeal allowed.


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