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L. Harish Chandra Vs. Union of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCommercial
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberRegular First Appeal No. 6D of 1957
Judge
Reported in3(1967)DLT337
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 80
AppellantL. Harish Chandra
RespondentUnion of India
Advocates: R.L. Aggarwal,; S.N. Anand,; R.B. Nanak Chand and;
Cases ReferredRailway. In S. N. Dutt v. Union of India
Excerpt:
.....to be addressed to general manager of railway - no post of general manager of railway in eastern punjab railway - in absence of general manager ntoice be served on chief administrative officer - ntoice addressed to administrative officer of eastern punjab railway - ntoice received in headquarter of eastern punjab railway - object of giving ntoice to give government or public officer to give sufficient knowledge regarding case so as to decide whether claim should be accepted - ntoice under section 80 imperative and cannto be dispensed with - hyper technical or over pedantic view in deciding about validity of ntoice cannto be taken - held, ntoice served by appellant in accordance and conformity with law. - - governor-general dominion of india, but the facts of that case are clearly..........of the case are that in december 1948 the assistant controller. printing and stationary, estern punjab railway, placed an order wi(h thj plaintiff for the binding of 23000 guard limp cover piles. the files were to be stitched in books with three patches of cltoh parted inside. the plaintiff carried out the work and delivered the files after doing the needful. a dispute then arose between the parties with regard the rate at which the plaintiff was to be paid for the work done by him. according to the plaintiff, the payment for the work done was to be made at the rate of eight annas per file, whereas the railway authoriies allege that the payment was to be made in accordance with the rate- mentioned in the government schedule. the railway authorities paid rs. 4,076.00/ 3.00 to the.....
Judgment:

Khanna and Hardy, JJ.

(1) The short question, which arises for determiation in this Regular First appeal filed by Hasish Chandcrp a ntilY appellant against Union of India, is whether the appellant served a valid ntoice under section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The Court below answered the question in the negative and dismissed the plaintiffs suit on that ground alone.

(2) The brief facts of the case are that in December 1948 the Assistant Controller. Printing and Stationary, Estern Punjab Railway, placed an order wi(h thJ plaintiff for the Binding of 23000 Guard Limp Cover Piles. The files were to be stitched in books with three patches of cltoh parted inside. The plaintiff carried out the work and delivered the files after doing the needful. A dispute then arose between the parties with regard the rate at which the plaintiff was to be paid for the work done by him. According to the plaintiff, the payment for the work done was to be made at the rate of eight annas per file, whereas the railway authoriies allege that the Payment was to be made in accordance with the rate- mentioned in the Government Schedule. The railway authorities paid Rs. 4,076.00/ 3.00 to the plaintiff in accordance with the rates mentioned in the Government Schedule. The plaintiff on the toher hand claimed that he was entitled to a sum of Rs. 11,500.00 at the rate of eight annas per file. After givi- ng credit for the amount already received, the plaintiff filed a suit for the recovery of Rs. 7.42/13.00 against the defendant. According to the plaintiff. before filing the suit he served a ntoice through his counsel Mr. Radhey Mohan Lal, Advocate on22nd May 1950 on the competent officers and the Governirent under the section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(3) The defendant in the written statement admitted the receipt of ntoice under section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure but challenged the validity of the same. A number of toher pleas were raised, but we aie nto concerned with them. Issue No. 1, as framed in the case was :-

1st, Is the ntoice under section 80 of the Code of' Civil Procedure invalid

(4) The trial Court derided issues toher than issue No. 1 in favor of the plaintiff. It as held that the railway authorities had specifically agrreed to make payment to the plaintiff at the rate of eight Annas per file and that the plaintiff was entitled to receive Rs. 11,500.00 Issue No. 1 was, however, decided against the plaintiff, and in view of the finding on issue No. 1 the suit was dismissed

(5) In appeal Mr. Aggarwal on behalf of the appellant has assailed the finding of the Court below on issue No. 1 and has contended that the ntoice, original of which has been produced by the defendant and has been n.arked as Exhibit D6, was valid and in accordance with law. As against that, Mr Nanak Chand on behalf of the respondent has canvassed for the correctness of the view of the Court below. After hearing the learned counsel we are of the view that the conteation advanced on behalf of the appellant must prevail.

(6) Ntoice Exhibit D-6, which was sent by Mr. Radhey Mohan Lal on behalf of the plaintiff on 22nd May 1950, was according to its heading, addressed to (!) the Central Government of India through the Ministry of Railway .New Delhi and (2) the .Administrative Officer, Eastern Punjab Railway, New Delhi. At the foto of the ntoice, the following words were added:-

'The above ntoice is being sent to the Chief Administrative Officer, E P. R. Delhi under the Indian Railways Act.'

According to section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure ntoice in the rase of suit against the Central Gavernment where it relates to a rail- way, has to be addressed to the General Manager of the railway. It would, however, appear that so far as the Eastern Punjab Railway is con- cerned there was, at the relevant time, no General Manager of that rail- way. As it was a small ral^ay its admini^rntive organization was retain- ed on a lower level and instead of a General Manager it had a Chief Ad- unini'Jtrative Office. This is clear from the f>)!lowing observations on page 12 of the memorandum on the forirntion of Northern, Nor.h Eastern and Ea.'-tern Zones : -

'Thirdly, after the partition, the setting up of the Eastern Punjab Railway was, right from the outset, considered only a tempirirV arrangement pending its absorption into one of the northern railways as a part of a larger system. It was too small a railway and had no workshop facilities. The administrative organisation has for this riason been int.-ntionally retained on a lo^er level under a Chief Administrative Officer and nto a General Manager as with toher main systems.'

As the Chief Administrative officer had taken the place of General Manager in the case of Eastern Punjab Railway k is obvious that a ntoice served on the Chief Administrative officer of the Eastern Punjab Railway would constit'.ne substantial compH'nce with law.

(7) Mr. Nanak Chand has argued thut the ntoice in the preseat cae was addressed to the Administrative Officer of the Eastern Punjab Railway and nto to the Chief Administrative Olficer of that railway, and thereforee, it was an invalid ntoice. In this respect we find that it was specifically mentioned on the ntoice, as stated above, that it was being sent to the Chief Administrative Officer of the Eastern Punjab Railway. The fact that the words 'Chitf Administrative Officer' were nto mentioned onthe top of the ntoice but were mentined at its butto-n would nto affect the validity of the ntoice. The postal acknowledgement Exhibit P. I ) shows that the ntoice was received in the headquarter office of Eastern Punjab Railway, Delhi, because the acknowledgement bears the the seal of the office. The object of giving a ntoice under section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure is manifestly to give the government or that public officer sufficient ntoice of the case which is proposed to be brought against it or him so that it or he may consider the position and decide for itself or himself whether the claim of the plaintiff should be accepted or resisted. In order to enable the Government or the public officer to arrive at adecision it isnecc'.sary that it or he should be informed of the nature of the suit proposed to be filed against it or him and the facts on which the claim is founded and the pro' cise reliefs asked for. See in this connection ihe State of Madras versus C. P. Agencies Das C J., speaking for the Court in that case. observed that though the terms of this section are to be strictly complied with, that does nto mean that the terms of the ntoice should be scrutinized in a pedantic manner or in a manner completely divorced from conmonense. In Union of Indi v. The Landra Engineering and Foundary Works Phillaur a Full Bench of the Punjab High Court held that the provisions of ntoice unnder section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure are nto intended to be used as a trap for defecting the claimants' suits against the Government. The principle, which should guide in such cases, in oar opinion is that though the service of ntoice under section 80 is imperative and cannto be dispensed with, the Courts should nto takea hypertechnical or over-pedantic view in deciding about the validity of the ntoice. There has to be a broad commonsense approach to the problem and once the Courts find that there has been a substantial compliance with law, they would be chary to non-suit plaintiff, having ajust claim, because of some fanciful breach, insignificant omission or minor infraction of a technical nature. Keeping the above principle in view, we have nto doubt in our mind that the ntoice Exhibit D. 6, which was sent on behalf of the plaintiff, was valid and substantially in conformity with law.

(8) Mr. NanakChand on behalf of the respondent has referred to Saudhya Trading Co. v. Governor-General Dominion of India, but the Facts of that case are clearly distinguishable. In that case the ntoice, which was held to be invalid, was addressed to the Secretary, of the Railway Board and nto to the General Manager of the Railway concerned. In Union of India v. M/s. Shamsuddin Waizuddin, the ntoice, which was held to be invalid, was sent to the Secretary Union of India Railway Department. Only a copy of that ntoice was sent to the General Manager, Ea t lndia Railway. In S. N. Dutt v. Union of India, a ntoice was given by M/s S. N. Dutt and Comp any, and the suit was filed by S. N. Dutt, sole proprietor of the business carried on under the name and style of S. N. Dutt & Company. It was held that there should be identity of the person who issued the ntoice with the person who brings the suit. As the person giving the ntoice was nto the same as the person suing. the provisions of section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure were nto complied with. All the above mentioned authoities were decided on their own facts which were substantially different from those of the present case. and, in our opinion, the respondent cannto derive much assistance from those authorities. So far as the present case is concerned, the ntoice, sent on behalf of the plaintiff, was, as observed earlier, substantially in conformity with law.

(9) We, accordingly, reverse the finding of the Court below on issue No. 1 and award a decree for recovery of Rs. 7,423/13- in favor of the plaintiff-appellant against the defendant-respondent with costs of buth the Courts.


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