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Bhamidipati Kameswara Rao Vs. the National Movietone Company, Ltd., Kilpauk and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContract
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1942Mad659; (1942)2MLJ110
AppellantBhamidipati Kameswara Rao
RespondentThe National Movietone Company, Ltd., Kilpauk and anr.
Excerpt:
- - it was clearly a case of the first defendant hiring the film......in this case the issue is really a very simple one. on the question whether the action of the cinema proprietor in rajahmundry is the action of an agent of the first defendant, i am in entire agreement with the learned district judge that there is no such relationship between the two parties. the first defendant obviously hired the film: in. question to the proprietor of the cinema, and the mere fact that the arrangement between them was that profits should be paid to the movietone company on a percentage basis instead of in a fixed sum makes no difference to the essential nature of the contract. it was clearly a case of the first defendant hiring the film. the plaintiff therefore cannot say that he has any direct cause of action against the first defendant from the fact that the.....
Judgment:

King, J.

1. This appeal arises out of a suit brought by the plaintiff for damages for infringement of copyright. The plaintiff claims to have written the dramatic work which has been converted according to him, by the defendants into a cinematograph film. He further complains that the defendants entered into a contract with the proprietor of a cinema in Rajahmundry to exhibit this film and that the film was duly exhibited in Rajahmundry in pursuance of that contract. A number of issues have been framed, and an important issue of jurisdiction was based upon a contention on the part of the defendants who are a Movietone Company of Madras, and a private individual who is said to have directed the production of the film in Madras on behalf of the 1st defendant and who lives in Madras, that the suit did not lie in Rajahmundry but lay only in Madras. The learned District Judge, after an elaborate judgment, has held that the suit did not lie in Rajahmundry and he has returned the plaint to the plaintiff for presentation in the proper Court. The plaintiff has appealed against this order.

2. It seems to me that although the learned District Judge has gone at a great length into a number of factors in this case the issue is really a very simple one. On the question whether the action of the cinema proprietor in Rajahmundry is the action of an agent of the first defendant, I am in entire agreement with the learned District Judge that there is no such relationship between the two parties. The first defendant obviously hired the film: in. question to the proprietor of the cinema, and the mere fact that the arrangement between them was that profits should be paid to the Movietone company on a percentage basis instead of in a fixed sum makes no difference to the essential nature of the contract. It was clearly a case of the first defendant hiring the film. The plaintiff therefore cannot say that he has any direct cause of action against the first defendant from the fact that the proprietor of the cinema, whom he has not chosen to implead as a defendant, actually exhibited the film.. But Section 2 (2) (a) shows that any one who lets for hire any work, which to his knowledge infringes copyright, is deemed to have infringed the copyright himself. It is undeniable that the first defendant in this case has let this particular film for hire to the proprietor of the cinema. The simple question therefore which arises for decision is whether this action of letting the film for hire is one which was completed in Madras or was completed in Rajahmundry. If it was completed in Madras, then there is no part of the cause of action which arose in Rajahmundry. If it was completed in Rajahmundry, then obviously this part of the cause of action did arise in Rajahmundry and under Section 20 (c) of the Code of Civil Procedure, the District Judge at Rajahmundry has jurisdiction. It seems to me that in the absence of any specific terms in the actual contract between the parties to the contrary, it is reasonable and natural to assume that a transaction of hiring cannot be completed until the article hired is in the hands of the person to whom it is to be hired.

3. A great deal of discussion appears to have centred in the Court below round the question as to where the contract was completed. It seems to me that this question is entirely irrelevant. There may be ground for holding that the contract was completed in either Madras or Rajahmundry but the mere completion of the contract is no part of the cause of action; for it is only if the contract is carried out by the first defendant that the plaintiff can have any possible grievance. I therefore return to the question of whether the hiring took place in Madras or in Rajahmundry. On this question the contract is silent. The only reference to the transport of the film from Madras to Rajahmundry is in Clause (5) which says that the 'to and fro charges together with the incidental charges' are to be borne by the proprietor of the cinema. Nothing is said as to who shall shoulder the risk if anything happens to the film in the course of its journey between Madras and Rajahmundry. It seems to me obvious that if the film does not reach Rajahmundry, the whole contract must come to an end because the main terms of the contract are that the film was to be shown in a particular cinema and the profits of the showing of the film were to be divided in a particular proportion between the parties to the contract. If, therefore, the film never reaches Rajahmundry the main terms of the contract will be incapable of fulfilment.

4. For this reason and on the general ground that an article cannot be said to be hired until it reaches the hands of the person to whom it is to be hired, I would hold that the action of hiring out this film was not complete until, the film had reached Rajahmundry and was delivered to the proprietor of the cinema. Part of the cause of action, therefore, arose in Rajahmundry and this suit will lie in the Court of the District Judge. A separate argument has been addressed to me on behalf of the second defendant who says that the action of hiring out the picture to the proprietor of the cinema in Rajahmundry was one with which he had nothing to do and that therefore that part of the cause of action has no reference to him. It is not however open to me at this stage and in the hearing of this appeal to say that the plaintiff has no cause of action against the second defendant. That is a matter which will be decided by the learned District Judge himself when he proceeds to dispose of the suit according to law. I must, for the reasons given, set aside the order of the learned District Judge and remand the suit to him for disposal according to law. The costs of this appeal must be paid by the respondents.


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