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State of Madras (by Secretary, Home Department) Vs. Ramaswaml (K.) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLabour and Industrial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1958)IILLJ228Mad; (1958)IIMLJ372
AppellantState of Madras (by Secretary, Home Department)
RespondentRamaswaml (K.) and ors.
Cases ReferredMetropolitan District Railway v. Sherepe
Excerpt:
.....than plainly, clearly or the like. on the facts of the present case there can be no doubt that the buses were expressly, that is, clearly, plainly, entrusted to the drivers. , the buses, to the employed persons, that is, the drivers for custody ? it must not be overlooked that the language used is 'custody 'and not 'safe custody. ' it is well established that it is not permissible to import into a statute words which are not there. we think that the fallacy in the argument of the learned counsel for the respondents is due to the presumption, for which there is no warrant, that the entrustment must be for 'safe custody,'as for instance when the goods are entrusted to a storekeeper or a warehouseman. but for a provision like this, the employed persons might deal with the goods given to..........subba rao, j., in w. p. no. 692 of 1951 filed in the following circumstances. the respondents are drivers employed to ply buses owned by the state of madras who run the state transport service in the city of madras. the state purported to deduct from wages due to them certain amounts for damages to the buses when they were being driven by them respectively. the drivers protested that the state was not entitled to make the deductions and they applied to the commissioner for workmen's compensation, madras, for a decision that the deductions were not validly made.2. the state purported to make the deductions under section 7(2)(c) of the payment of wages act. under that provision deduction! from the wages of an employed person can be made for damage to or loss of goods expressly entrusted.....
Judgment:

P.V. Rajamannar, C.J.

1. This is an appeal by the State of Madras against the judgment of Subba Rao, J., in W. P. No. 692 of 1951 filed in the following circumstances. The respondents are drivers employed to ply buses owned by the State of Madras who run the State Transport Service in the City of Madras. The State purported to deduct from wages due to them certain amounts for damages to the buses when they were being driven by them respectively. The drivers protested that the State was not entitled to make the deductions and they applied to the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Madras, for a decision that the deductions were not validly made.

2. The State purported to make the deductions under Section 7(2)(c) of the Payment of Wages Act. Under that provision deduction! from the wages of an employed person can be made for damage to or loss of goods expressly entrusted to the employed person for custody or for loss of money for which he is required to account, where such damage or loss is directly attributable to his neglect or default.

3. The Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Madras, held that the deductions were improperly made because it had not been established that the buses which the employed persons operated were expressly entrusted to them for custody. In this view he did not go into the question whether the damage or loan was directly attributable to the neglect or default of the employed persons, He directed the State to pay the drivers the amounts deducted. The State of Madras filed an appeal to the Court of Small Causes, Madras. The learned Chief Judge dismissed the appeal. He held construing the material provisions that the object and purpose of the entrustment should be custody, that the buses were given to the drivers for the purpose and with the object of their being plied on the road and not for the purpose of being preserved and taken care of by the drivers and therefore there was no entrustment for custody. The State of Madras thereupon filed a petition in this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Madras. This petition was heard by Subba Rao, J., who dismissed it substantially agreeing with the learned Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes. He observed:

There is nothing on the record to establish that the buses or the parts damaged were expressly entrusted to the respondents' custody. They were the employees of the State of Madras and for salaries fixed they were plying the buses for the State. There is no document disclosing the terms on which entrustment was made to the respondents.

The above appeal is against his order.

4. The facts are not in dispute and the short question to be decided is whether the buses were ' expressly entrusted to the employed persons for custody.' The arguments centred round two points, namely:

(1) whether the goods, that is, the buses, were expressly entrusted, and

(2) whether the buses were entrusted to the drivers for custody.

We are clearly of opinion that the term ' expressly' in the context does not mean that there should be any thing in writing as evidence of entrustment. The word ' expressly' is oftentimes used in antithesis to the word 'impliedly.' In our opinion the word 'expressly' has been used only to mean 'clearly.'

5. In Chorlton v. Lings 1858 L.R. 4 C.P. 374, Byles, J., construed that word thus:

But that word does not necessarily mean ' expressly excluded by words.' The word ' expressly' often means no more than plainly, clearly or the like.

6. Blackburn, J., in Metropolitan District Railway v. Sherepe 50 L.J. Q.B. 21, pointed out:

that where one Act incorporates another except where 'expressly varied' by the incorporating statute, it is not essentially necessary that there should be express words saying this particular section or provision shall not apply.

On the facts of the present case there can be no doubt that the buses were expressly, that is, clearly, plainly, entrusted to the drivers. The second point presents more difficulty. Has there been entrustment of the goods, viz., the buses, to the employed persons, that is, the drivers for custody It must not be overlooked that the language used is 'custody 'and not 'safe custody.' It is well established that it is not permissible to import into a statute words which are not there. Custody merely denotes keeping at care. It cannot be denied that when the drivers are given the buses to be plied they are given to their care. During the time when the buses are being plied they are obviously in the care of the drivers. In this sense the buses are certainly in the custody of the drivers. During the arguments it was contended by the learned Counsel for the respondents that the buses were entrusted to the drivers for use. In the first place it is factually incorrect to say that the buses were delivered to the drivers for their use. Secondly the fact that the buses were given to them for being plied is not inconsistent with the buses being given to them for custody. Obviously at the end of the day the drivers, were expected to return the buses to the prescribed officer or to safely leave them at the garage or in any other prescribed place. We think that the fallacy in the argument of the learned Counsel for the respondents is due to the presumption, for which there is no warrant, that the entrustment must be for 'safe custody,' as for instance when the goods are entrusted to a storekeeper or a warehouseman.

7. The above construction of Section 7(2)(c) of the Act (Payment of Wages Act) might, It was suggested, lead to considerable hardship to the workers. In certain cases it might, but to restrict the application of the provision only to such employees as storekeepers, etc., might equally lead to considerable hardship to the employers. But for a provision like this, the employed persons might deal with the goods given to their care completely indifferent to their safety and preservation. With respect to the learned Judge, Subba Rao, J., we do not share with him his view of the said provision. The appeal is, therefore, allowed and the order of the Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Madras, and the order of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Madras, are hereby quashed.

8. This will not have the effect of finally disposing of the applications by the employed persons. Unless it is established that the damage or loss sustained is directly attributable to the neglect or default of the employed persons, the deductions cannot validly be made. The Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation did not go into this question in the view he took that, there has been no entrustment for custody. That question will now have to be determined. We might in this connexion also refer to Section 10 of the Act which requires inter alia that the deduction shall not be made until the employed person has been given an opportunity of showing cause against the deduction of otherwise than in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed for the making of such deduction.

9. There will be no order as to costs in this appeal.


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