1. The appellant Ramanand was Assistant Station Master of Neem-ka-Thana Station in the years 1943 and 1944. He was dismissed from service on 12th May, 1944, on the ground that he had despatched 75 bags of chillies without booking them. He addressed a notice dated 3rd January, 1950, to the Dominion of India through the General Manager, B. B. & C. I. Railway stating that he had been wrongfully dismissed on account of the prejudice of the then Traffic Superintendent, though it was wrong that 75 bags of chillies had been despatched by him without any booking.
He said in that notice that he had no other remedy to get himself re-employed except by knocking at the door of the Court of law, and said in the end that if within two months he would not be reinstated, he would take legal action against the Railway, and it would be responsible for his expenses and losses incurred thereby.
This notice was followed by the suit out of which this appeal arises, and which was filed on 11th of May, 1950, against the Union of India through the General Manager, B. B. & C. I. Railway. It was alleged that a wrong charge was laid at the door of the plaintiff that he had sent 75 bags of chillies without any booking, and that his dismissal was wrongful.
It was stated that notice under Section 80, C. P. C. had been served upon the defendant, and that the cause of action arose on 12th of May, 1944, when the plaintiff was dismissed, and on 7th of March, 1950, the date of expiry of the notice. The relief claimed was that a declaration be given that the plaintiff had been wrongfully dismissed by the defendant, and that he was entitled to be reinstated to the post of Assistant Station Master. In thealternative it was prayed that if the plaintiffbe not reinstated to that post, he be awardedRs. 5000/- for wrongful dismissal.(2) The defendant filed a written statement, and pleaded inter alia that the noticepurporting to be under Section 80, C. P. C. was defective.
3. The learned Civil Judge, Jaipur District, who tried the case, dismissed the suit on the ground that the notice under Section 80, C, P. C. was defective inasmuch as it had not been stated as to what relief the plaintiff claimed. The plaintiff went in appeal, and the learned District Judge, Jaipur District, concurred with the finding of the first Court that the notice was bad in law, inasmuch as the relief which the plaintiff wanted was not given therein. The plaintiff has come in second appeal.
4. The only point that arises for determination is whether the notice dated 3rd January, 1950, served by the plaintiff on the defendant was in accordance with the provisions of Section 80, C. P. C. It was argued by Mr. B. P. Agrawal on behalf of the appellant that the notice substantially complied with the provisions of Section 80, C. P. C., although it was not clearly stated that the plaintiff prayed for the relief of declaration that he was in service in spite of his wrongful dismissal, and was entitled to reinstatement. The notice, when read as a whole, made it clear that at least the relief regarding the declaration for reinstatement was being sought. It was argued that this is clear from the concluding portion of the notice which runs as under :
'Hence this notice is hereby given that if within two months I am not reinstated to my post I shall take legal action against the Railway and it shall be responsible for my expenses and losses incurred thereby.'
Reliance was placed on a ruling of the Nagpur High Court in the case of Secretary of State v. Nagorao Tanko, AIR 1938 Nag 415 (A), wherein in the notice the relief was not clearly specified, but the concluding portion of the notice ran as follows:
''I strongly protest against the order of the forest officer (Ranger's No. 1172/956 dated 5th July 1928) and request you to order free passage to the cattle by these public roads or to take notice that if such order is not made within two months of the receipt of this letter by you, I shall take such legal steps to obtain the required redress of my grievance as I may be advised.'
Reliance was also placed on a ruling of the Judicial Commissioner's Court, Ajmer, in the case of Jeewanram v. Union of India, AIR 1956 Ajmer 17 (B), In that case it was held that
'a plaintiff may be permitted to claim reliefs slightly different from those claimed in the notice under Section 80 if the reliefs claimed in the suit remain substantially the same as that claimed in the notice.'
5. On behalf of the respondent it was argued by Shri B. P. Beri that the provisions of Section 80, C. P. C. are mandatory, and if they are not strictly complied with, the suit is bound to fail. It was argued that under Order 7, Rule 1, C. P. C. the necessary ingredients of a plaint have been given, three of which are as follows :
1. The name, description and place of residence of the plaintiff (Rule 1, Clause (b) ),
2. The facts constituting the cause of action and when it arose, (Rule 1, Clause (e) ),
3. The relief which the plaintiff claims (Rule 1 Clause (g) ).
It was argued that Section 80 insists that these three ingredients of the plaint must find place clearly in the notice under that section. It was argued that the Privy Council has taken a consistent view that Section 80, C. P. C. is to be strictly complied with. Reliance has been placed on the decisions of their Lordships in the following cases: Bhagchand Dagdusa v. Secretary of State, AIR 1927 PC 176 (C); Vellayan Chettiar v. Government of the Province of Madras, AIR 1947 PC 197 (D); Government of the Province of Bombay v. Pestonji Ardeshir Wadia, AIR 1949 PC 143 (E).
Reliance has also been placed on the ruling of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Dominion of India v. Roop Chand, 1950 All LJ 595 (F), and that of the Madras High Court in Governor-General in Council v. Krishnaswami Pillai, AIR 1946 Mad 366 (G). Learned counsel has also referred to a ruling of the Patna High Court in the case of Surajmal Jain v. Union of India, AIR 1956 Pat 478 (HJ, a ruling of the Himachal Pradesh Judicial Commissioner's Court in the case of Gajjan Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1956 Him-Pra 9 (I), and also to a ruling of the Judicial Commissioner's Court, Ajmer, in Pyarelal Saxena v. Union of India, AIR 1955 Ajmer 57 (2) (J).
6. I have considered the arguments of both the learned counsel, and have also gone through the provisions of Section 80, C. P. C. as well as the rulings cited on behalf of each party. A reading of Section 80 will show that it is mandatory, and forbids any suit against the Government or against a public officer in respect of any act purporting to be done by such public officer in his official capacity until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing has been delivered to or left at the office of a Secretary to the Government in the case of a suit against the Central Government, except where it relates to a Railway; at the office of the General Manager or the Railway concerned in the case of a suit against the Central Government where it relates to a Railway, and at the office of a Secretary to the State Government or the Collector of the District in the case of a suit against a State Government. Not only this, the section also lays down as to what should be the necessary contents of such a notice. It has been enjoined that the notice shall contain the following particulars:
1. The cause of action,
2. The name, description and place of residence of the plaintiff, and
3. The relief which the plaintiff claims. These three find place among the ingredients of a plaint under Order 7, Rule (1), C. P. C. It was held in the case of AIR 1927 PC 176 (C), that Section 80 is to be strictly complied with and is applicable to all forms of action and all kinds of relief.
True, in that case suit for injunction wasfiled before two months period of noticeunder Section 80 had expired. The observations oftheir Lordships of the Privy Council, however,that Section 80 is to be strictly complied with, apply,to my mind, as much to the period of noticeas to the name and description etc. of plaintiffs, the cause of action and the relief to beclaimed.
7. In the case of AIR 1947 PC 197 (D), their Lordships held that a suit in which notice was given only on behalf of one of the plaintiffs was bad as a suit could not be instituted by him and another on the basis of that notice. Their Lordships quoted from the decision in the case o AIR 1927 PC 176 (C), that Section 80 is express, explicit and mandatory, and admits of no implications or exceptions.
8. In the case of AIR 1949 PC 143 (E), their Lordships again took the view that the provisions of Section 80 are imperative and must be strictly complied with. In that case certain trustees brought a suit, but the notice which was given under Section 80, C. P. C. did not give the names of all the trustees. Their Lordships observed that
''The provisions of Section 80 of the Code are imperative and should be strictly complied with before it can be said that a notice valid in law has been served on the Government. In the present case it is not contended that any notice on behalf of plaintiffs 2 and 3 was served on the Government before the filing of the suit. Their Lordships have not been shown any provision in the Code enabling the trustees to sue in the name of the trust. For these reasons the suit against the Government must be held to be incompetent and the appeal fails,'
9. From these rulings of the Privy Council it appears that the view, which has been taken by some of the High Courts, that the provisions of Section 80 should be liberally construed, if I may say with respect is not quite correct.
10. The ruling which favour the plaintiff most is that of the Nagpur High Court in the case of AIR 1938 Nag 415 (A). In that case it was not specifically said in the notice under Section 80 as to what relief the intending plaintiff claimed against the Government. The only thing which was said in the concluding portion of the notice was
I strongly protest against the order of the forest officer (Ranger's No. 1172/956 dated 5th July 1928) and request you to order free passage to the cattle by these public roads or to take notice that if such order is not made within two months of the receipt of this letter by you, I shall take such legal steps to obtainthe required redress of my grievance as I maybe advised.'
It was observed by Grille J. that
'The plaintiff certainly does not say that he claims a declaration of his right or an injunction; but, as both the Courts below have held, there can be no doubt whatever as to the nature of the relief which he would claim, in the civil action which he gave notice he would bring.'
It may be that on the reading of the noticeunder consideration in that case, it might have been possible to spell out as to what relief the intending plaintiff wanted to claim. The wordings of Section 80, however, do not show that the Court should embark upon a speculation as to what relief the plaintiff wanted to claim. It is the duty of the plaintiff to say in the notice as to what relief he wants to seek. There may be cases in which only one relief might be claimed on the basis of a particular cause of action. In other cases, however, it might be possible to claim several reliefs on the basis of the same cause of action. It is for the plaintiff to say as to what relief he wanted. In the present case the plaintiff himself brought the suit for a declaration that he was entitled to be reinstated, and in the alternative he prayed for damages for his wrongful dismissal. It is not clear from the notice which he gave whether he wanted to seek the relief for declaration or for damages for wrongful dismissal.
I do not understand how it can be said on the basis of the present notice that it is clear from its contents that the plaintiff stated that he wanted to claim a relief for a declaration that he was entitled to be reinstated. From certain observations in the Nagpur case mentioned above, I find that certain other considerations also entered into the determination of the question whether the notice in that case was valid. It was observed that
'Government was aware of the case which it had to meet and offered a limited form of redress, which the plaintiff refused to accepts The defendant then replied : 'In these circumstances I cannot but inform you that we are awaiting the threatened action.' The object therefore of the notice had been achieved, the notice had been admitted, the possibilities of a compromise had been discussed and had failed, and the defendant, Secretary of State, awaited the action which he was prepared to defend.'
I do not understand how the validity of a notice under Section 80, C. P. C. can be determined with reference to the question as to whether the defendant knew or not as to what the plaintiffs case was going to be. The knowledge should be derived from the notice itself, and it must clearly say as to who was the plaintiff who was going to bring the suit, what was his cause of action, and what was the relief he wanted to claim. I am, therefore, unable to go to the length to which the learned Judge in the Nagpur case has gone.
11. Learned counsel for the appellant relied upon a ruling of the Judicial Commissioner, Ajmer, in AIR 1956 Ajmer 17 (B), in which in the notice counsel for the intending plaintiff stated as follows :
'1. That my said client is entitled to be reinstated on his former post and to be paid the amount due to him on the basis of his being treated as if he was not discharged from the date of his discharge upto the date of reinstatement.
2. That my said client contemplates tofile a suit for the above reliefs on the groundsmentioned above, if he does not receive afavourable reply within the statutory periodof two months as mentioned in Section 80, C. P. C'.
Reading the two paragraphs together, it wasclear from the notice as to what relief the intending plaintiff wanted to claim in the suit. He said in his penultimate paragraph that he was entitled to be reinstated on his former post, and to be paid the amount due to him etc. etc. from the date of his discharge to the date of reinstatement.
In the concluding para it was said that he contemplated to file a suit for the above reliefs. It was, therefore, clear that the reliefs which he wanted to claim were the reliefs of reinstatement on his former post and the payment of the amount due to him from the date of his discharge to the date of reinstatement. What Section 80 says is that the relief which the intending plaintiff wants to claim should be given.
No particular form or notice has been prescribed. If, therefore, the notice gives the reliefs and the cause of action and the names and addresses of the persons claiming the reliefs, the conditions of Section 80, C. P. C. are satisfied.
The notice is not required to be divided into paragraphs as the plaint. Section 80 does not say as to whether the relief should be claimed in the beginning or in the end, but that does not mean that the three requisites, which have been given in Section 80, should not be clearly stated in the notice, and the court should be left to speculate as to what was the possible relief which the plaintiffs wanted to claim.
12. There are certain rulings of some of the High Courts in which it has been held that even a clerical mistake in the notice would be fatal to the suit. One of such rulings is that of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Dominion of India v. Roopchand (F). In that case one of the figures of the numberof railway receipt was wrongly given, and on that ground the notice was held to be invalid. In the case of Konnoth Meenakshi Amma v. Province of Madras AIR 1946 Mad 73 (K) itwas held by Rajamannar J., as he then was, that
'an error in describing the subject-matter of the suit, namely, setting aside a revenue sale, as R. S. No. 722/4-b instead of R. S. No. 722/4-A is not a mere clerical error but a substantial error which vitiates the notice under Section 80, C. P. C.'
As the error in the present case is not like the error which crept in the notices in the above two cases, it is not necessary for me to say whether such a strict view of Section 80 should be taken or not. Suffice it to say that Section 80 clearly enjoins upon the intending plaintiff to state his relief in the notice, and if it is not stated, the notice cannot be said to be fulfilling the conditions laid down in that section.
As has been said in the beginning, the section is mandatory, and if there is any defect in the notice in the matter of the necessary requisites, the notice cannot be said to be valid, and the suit based thereon cannot succeed.
13. It is a pity that the plaintiff did not consult any legal adviser, and took upon himself the responsibility of sending such a technical notice as that required by Section 80, C. P. C. However, simply on that account it cannot be said that the notice, which is not valid under Section 80, C. P. C., should be held to be valid.
14. I agree with the lower Courts that the notice was not valid, and the suit, therefore, could not succeed.
15. The appeal is dismissed. In thecircumstances of the case the parties shallbear their own costs throughout.