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The State of Rajasthan Vs. Rao Manohar Singh of Bedla - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 43 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1961Raj143
ActsContract Act, 1872 - Sections 213; Limitation Act, 1908 - Schedule - Articles 62, 89 and 120
AppellantThe State of Rajasthan
RespondentRao Manohar Singh of Bedla
Appellant Advocate Jiwansingh Chordia and; R.A. Gupta, Advs.
Respondent Advocate U.M. Trivedi, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases Referred and Vidya Wanti Kaur v. Shahdev Singh
Excerpt:
.....lays down that an agent is bound to render proper accounts to his principal on demand. having regard to this state of the law, i am disposed to come to the conclusion, putting the case of the defendant at its best, that it cannot be postulated of this case that the defendant has rendered the account in the manner he should have clone, when called upon to do so, and that the present suit for accounts is maintainable. the present suit was filed on the 4th january, 1955, and consequently it was well within three years' limitation provided for such suits. and that is that the present case is not merely for rendering account of the money received by the agent and not accounted for but it also embraces the claim of the plaintiff with respect to certain monies which, according to the..........the judgment and decree of the learned district judge, udaipury dated the 5th november, 1957, in a suit for accounts.2. the facts leading up to this appeal may shortly be stated as follows. the plaintiff rao manohar singh of bedla was a jagirdar in the former state of mewar at all relevant times. that state was integrated in what may be called, for facility of reference, the first united state of rajasthan in april, 1948. the last mentioned state was amalgamated with the former states of jodhpur, jaipur, bikaner and jaisalmer and the matsya union, as it then was, and the seconds united state of rajasthan was formed in the middle of 1949.this last-mentioned state was then formed-into the part b state of rajasthan with, the coming into effect of the constitution on the 26th january, 1950,.....
Judgment:

I.N. Modi, J.

1. This is a regular second appeal by the defendant State against the judgment and decree of the learned District Judge, Udaipury dated the 5th November, 1957, in a suit for accounts.

2. The facts leading up to this appeal may shortly be stated as follows. The plaintiff Rao Manohar Singh of Bedla was a jagirdar in the former State of Mewar at all relevant times. That State was integrated in what may be called, for facility of reference, the first United State of Rajasthan in April, 1948. The last mentioned State was amalgamated with the former States of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer and the Matsya Union, as it then was, and the seconds United State of Rajasthan was formed in the middle of 1949.

This last-mentioned State Was then formed-into the Part B State of Rajasthan with, the coming into effect of the Constitution on the 26th January, 1950, and is now represented by the present State of Rajasthan as it was formed under the States Reorganization Act, 1956 (No. XXXI of 1956). The first United State of Rajasthan issued Ordinances No. 27 of 1948 and Nos. 10 and 15 of 1949 by which the management of all Jagirs existing in that State including the Jagir of the present plaintiff was taken over by the then State by virtue of the provisions of those Ordinances.

The result, therefore, was that when the second United State of Rajasthan was formed in May, 1949, these Ordinances were in force in a part of the State and the Jagirs in thaF area were managed by the State while similar Jagirs in other parts of the State continued to be managed by the Jagirdars themselves. It is admitted that in these circumstances, the plaintiff filed a writ application in this Court (being civil Misc. case No. 1 of 1951)by which the constitutional validity of these Ordinances was challenged.

By its judgment dated the 11th December, 1951, it was held by a Bench of this Court that Section 8(a) which was introduced in Ordinance No. 27.of 1948 by Section 4 of Ordinance No. 10 of 1949 and the amendment of Section 8(a) by Section 3 of the Ordinance No. 15 of 1949 were unconstitutional and void under Article 13(1) of the Constitution readwith Article 14 thereof. In the result, the Statewas prohibited from collecting the rent from the tenants of land comprising the Jagir of Bedla which was held by the plaintiff.

It may also be mentioned here that the matter was taken up by the State in appeal to the Supreme Court, and the decision of this Court was upheld, vide The State of Rajasthan v. Manoharsinghji, 1954 Raj LW 220 : (AIR 1954 SC 297). It is further common ground between the parties that before the decision of the Supreme Court was given, the defendant State had made over possession of the plaintiff's Jagir to him on the 22nd October, 1951. It will thus be observed that the defendant continued to collect the revenues of the plaintiffs estate after the Constitution came into force upto the 22nd October, 1951, and it is in respect of this period that the plaintiff has filed the present suit for accounts.

3. Before filing this suit, the plaintiff, according to paragraph No. 12 of the plaint, gave a noticeto the defendant State under Section 80 C. P. C. This notice is stated to have been delivered to the State on the 12th May, 1954. It is alleged that by this notice, the plaintiff called upon the defendant to render the former an account of what it had realized on his behalf and also to explain to him why it had omitted to make certain realizations which should have been made and further toexplain to him as to how it was justified in retaining certain amounts which it had done on the plaintiff's account.

It is significant that in the written statement filed by the State no reply whatsoever has been made to this allegation. The defence of the State, put shortly, was that the plaintiff was not entitled to file a suit for accounts as instructions had been issued to various departments to explain the accounts to him from time to time and that the plaintiff had been understanding these accounts through his employees. It was further contended in this connection that the defendant ceased to be the statutory agent or manager of the plaintiff's Jagir from the commencement of the Constitution on the 26th January, 1950. Lastly it was contended that the plaintiff's suit was barred by limitation.

4. The trial court passed a preliminary decree for accounts holding that the defendant was liable to render the accounts to the plaintiff for the period commencing on the 26th January, 1950, upto the 22nd October, 1951, when it made over possession of the plaintiff's Jagir to him. The State went in appeal to the learned District Judge, Udaipur, who maintained the decision of the trial court. The present appeal has been filed from the aforesaidjudgment and decree of the learned District Judge, Udaipur.

5. Two grounds have been strenuously urged before me in this appeal on behalf of the defendant State. The first is that the plaintiff was not entitled to bring this suit for rendition of accounts inasmuch as accounts had already been explained to him or his employees from time to time. Now, so far as this aspect of the case is concerned, what I wish to emphasize at the very outset is that this ground does not appear to me to have been seriously pressed by the defendant in the trial court.

It is true that a plea was taken in the written statement filed on behalf of the defendant that accounts had been explained to the plaintiff or to his employees from time to time, and, therefore, there was nothing further to explain about them. Be that as it may, no issue was framed on this point and none was asked for on behalf of the defendant, although the case remained pending in the trial court for about a year and a half.

It may also be pointed out in this connection that the plaintiff had by his notice dated the 11th May, 1954, definitely called upoa the defendant to render him an account for all the monies that had been realized by the State and also to account for the monies which it had omitted to realize and further to explain to him how and on what account it had retained certain monies on the hypothesis that they were payable by him.

As already stated, there is nothing in the written statement of the defendant to show that any reply had been given by the defendant to the plaintiff in this connection. All that learned counsel invites my attention to in this connection is the statement of one Bakhtawar who was examined as the Kamdar of Thikana Bedla on the 17th January, 1956.

In this statement, Bakhtawar stated that he had prepared a statement of account with reference to the deductions which had been made by the State for the period commencing on the 26th January, 1950, up to the 30th September, 1951, Ex. 1. He had also produced in court Ex. 3 which appears to be a statement of account sent by the State to the plaintiff.

It is contended that this would show that the plaintiff was definitely aware of his claim against the State which had been calculated at a sum of Rs. 99,221/3/0 on the basis of the accounting done by Bakhtawar. I have carefully looked into Ex. 3 which is a general statement of account of the income and expenditure of this jagir from the 1st February, 1949, to the 30th September, 1951. It is clear from a perusal of this statement that it does not furnish the details of the various amounts which are mentioned in this statement as items of income and expenditure.

It is remarkable that the defendant did not lead any evidence to show how these figures were arrived at and in the absence of these particulars, I find it extremely difficult to hold that this would amount to rendering in law of the requisite account which the State in its capacity as agent or manager was in duty-bound to furnish. There is authority for holding that the mere production of an account without explaining the same and without producing vouchers to support them, where the same are necessary, cannot be held to be rendering an account: See Madhusudan Sen v. Rakhal Chandra Das, ILR 43 Cal 248 : (AIR 1916 Cal 680) and B. C. Chakrabarty v. K. C. Rai, AIR 1925 Cal 1069. It was held in the last-mentioned case that an agent will not discharge himself from the duty of accounting by merely delivering to his employer a set of written accounts without attending to explain them, and without producing vouchers by which the items of disbursements are supported. The same view was adopted in Shiva Prasad v. Hanuman Bux, AIR 1938 Pat 392.

I may also invite attention in this connection to the provision of Section 213 of the Contract Act which clearly lays down that an agent is bound to render proper accounts to his principal on demand. Having regard to this state of the law, I am disposed to come to the conclusion, putting the case of the defendant at its best, that it cannot be postulated of this case that the defendant has rendered the account in the manner he should have clone, when called upon to do so, and that the present suit for accounts is maintainable.

6. The next contention of learned counsel is that the plaintiff's suit is barred by limitation. He began by arguing that Article 62 of the Limitation Act was properly applicable to this case and not Article 120 but subsequently he gave this contention up and submitted that Article 89 would be the correct Article to apply. As for Article 62, it is unnecessary to deal with the matter at length because learned counsel has himself conceded that it does not really apply.

All the same, I consider it proper to point out that Article 62 cannot be held to be applicable to a case where accounts are required to be rendered and the plaintiff's suit is not for a specific sum of money. There is ample authority for this proposition and reference may be made in support of this view to Subba Row v. Rama Row, AIR 1917 Mad 948, Moti Lal v. Radhey Lal, AIR 1933 All 642 and Vidya Wanti Kaur v. Shahdev Singh, AIR 1938 Lah 139.

7. Turning next to Article 89, this reads as follows:--

Descriptionof suit.

Periodof Limitation.

Time from which period begins to run.

By a principal against his agentfor movable property received by the latter and not accounted for.

ThreeYears.

Whenthe account is, during the continuance of the agency, demandedand refused or, when no such demand is made, when the agency terminates.

Let us see how this Article applies to the present case. This is undoubtedly a suit by a principal against his agent in connection with movable property received by the latter and not accounted for, as movable property includes money.

8. The next question is what is the starting point of limitation. Now, it is not the case of the defendant that any account was demanded and refused before the 11th May, 1954, when, according to the plaintiff he gave a notice to the defendant to render the account to him. An account was certainly demanded on the last-mentioned date but obviously it was not rendered, and, therefore, it seems to me that the earliest point of time from which limitation may run in this case would be around the llth May, 1954, assuming that there was a refusal to render the same on a date near about that inasmuch as the account had not been rendered.

The present suit was filed on the 4th January, 1955, and consequently it was well within three years' limitation provided for such suits. The conclusion, therefore, at which I arrive on a consideration of this Article is that the plaintiff's suit cannot be thrown out on the ground of limitation.

8a. It may at this juncture be permissible to clarify the confusion which seems to have prevailed in this case as regards the precise position of the defendant after the commencement of the Constitution.

I may state at once that so far as the position before the commencement of the Constitution is concerned, the defendant State was undoubtedly a statutory agent of the plaintiff while it collected the revenues for it. There can be hardly any doubt about it. The further question, however, arises as to what was the position of the State qua. the plaintiff's jagir after the commencement of the Constitution inasmuch as the relevant provisions according to which the State had assumed the management of the jagir had been struck down by this Court as unconstitutional.

In fact, it has been suggested in the written statement filed by the defendant that as the laws aforesaid had been declared void, the defendant State must be held to have ceased to occupy the position of a statutory agent with effect from the 26th January, 1950. Having given my careful and anxious consideration to this aspect of the matter, I am inclined to the view that this position cannot be sustained.

It is true that the laws by which the State was enabled to assume the management of the plaintiff's jagir were held to have no effect as from the commencement of the Constitution. To say that is one thing. But to proceed from that to maintain that the defendant State had ceased to occupy the position of an agent, statutory or otherwise, for the period it remained in occupation of the plaintiff's jagir is quite another.

For, the defendant as a matter of fact continued to exercise certain rights and powers of collection of revenues on behalf of the plaintiff throughout the period from the commencement of the Constitution until it returned the possession of the jagir to the plaintiff on the 22nd October, 1951. According to Section 152 of the Contract Act, an agent is a, person employed to do any act for another or to represent another in dealing with third persons, and the person for whom such act is done, or who is so represented, is called the principal.

The agency in this case, it is true, was not brought about by agreement between the parties but as a result of the statute and this agency, in my judgment, continued until the statute was struck down by this Court and the jagir was returned to the plaintiff. The correct position, therefore, to hold is that the defendant was and continued to be a de facto agent of the plaintiff throughout the period commencing from the 26th January, 1950, up to the 22nd October, 1951, when possession was delivered back to the plaintiff. I hold accordingly.

9. There is yet another aspect of the case to which I may briefly allude. And that is that the present case is not merely for rendering account of the money received by the agent and not accounted for but it also embraces the claim of the plaintiff with respect to certain monies which, according to the plaintiff, the defendant State should have recovered but failed to recover.

A suit of this type does not appear to me to be governed by Article 89 of the Limitation Act, and there is no specific Article in the said Act which applies to such a case. I am, therefore, disposed to hold the view that to a claim, of this type, the proper Article of limitation applicable would be Article 120 of the Limitation Act. See AIR 1917 Mad 948.

10. Be that as it may, as I have shown above, the present suit would be within three years' limitation provided under Article 89 even if that Article is held to apply to the whole of the plaintiff's case.

11. For the reasons mentioned above, thisappeal has no force and it is hereby dismissed withcosts.


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