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The Municipal Council of Conjeevaram Represented by the Chairman Vs. T.V. Kumara Venkatachariar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContract
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in57Ind.Cas.718; (1920)39MLJ58
AppellantThe Municipal Council of Conjeevaram Represented by the Chairman
RespondentT.V. Kumara Venkatachariar
Excerpt:
.....is less applicable where the powers are conferred on public representative bodies for essentially public purposes'.8. in the result, having given my best consideration to the arguments of the learned vail for the respondent (mr. on this point he is clearly wrong, as section 147(3) of the amended act declares that for all water taken for domestic purposes in excess of the limit allowed, payments shall be made at such rate as may be prescribed by the municipal council. 11. the subordinate judge considered that as the plaintiff entered into a contract with the council for supplying him with water under the old act, that contract must hold good until a fresh contract was entered into under the amended act, i am unable to agree with him......under section 147. under the new section 147(2) there might be a contract for supply for non-domestic purposes separately and that contract also must be included in the term 'contract made in accordance with section 147' in section 269.2. under the old section 147(1) that 'contract' might relate to supply of water for both domestic and non-domestic purposes and would result in the house-owner's liability to pay some dues to the municipality, only if he used water under the contract for non-domestic purposes, 'terms' as to such payment having to be inserted in such a contract.3. under the new section 147 clause (1) the 'contract' related only to supply for domestic purposes and therefore the new clause (2) was added in 1909 to section 147 by which a separate contract is contemplated.....
Judgment:

Sadasiva Aiyar, J.

1. Section 147 of the District Municipalities Act (both in its old form and in its new form) does contemplate in Clause (1) some arrangement for 'supplying water' to 'the owner or occupier of a building' for some purpose or purposes. That 'arrangement' whether it made the house-owner liable to pay any dues or not is mentioned in Section 269 as a 'contract' under Section 147. Under the new Section 147(2) there might be a contract for supply for non-domestic purposes separately and that contract also must be included in the term 'contract made in accordance with Section 147' in Section 269.

2. Under the old Section 147(1) that 'contract' might relate to supply of water for both domestic and non-domestic purposes and would result in the house-owner's liability to pay some dues to the Municipality, only if he used water under the contract for non-domestic purposes, 'terms' as to such payment having to be inserted in such a contract.

3. Under the new Section 147 Clause (1) the 'contract' related only to supply for domestic purposes and therefore the new Clause (2) was added in 1909 to Section 147 by which a separate contract is contemplated for supply for non-domestic purposes.

4. Neither Clause (1) nor Clause (2) of the new Section 147 makes any reference to 'terms' and 'conditions' being inserted in the arrangements for supply for domestic or non-domestic purposes. The old Section 147(1) however which contemplated a single contract for water supplied for both purposes (but under which payment can be demanded only for water supplied for non-domestic purposes and cannot be demanded at all for water supplied for domestic purposes) expressly refers to 'terms' and 'conditions' the terms evidently including terms as to the amount which is demanded for the water supplied for non-domestic purposes. As regards the right to claim dues (1) for supply in excess over the limit allowed for domestic purposes or (2) for supply for non-domestic purposes, a distinct Clause (3) was added to Section 147 in 1909 by which that right was given statutorily to the Municipal Council who can prescribe the rates for ascertaining such dues and it provides that 'payment shall be made' by the persons using such water. I do not think that under the new Section 147, any agreement is necessary to make the user of excess water for domestic or the user of water for non-domestic purposes liable, whether such user had already entered into a contract under the old Section 147(1) for supply of water for domestic uses or non-domestic uses or both or whether he had entered into a contract or contracts under the new Section 147, Clauses (1) and (2) or both.

5. Section 269 empowers the Council to recover as if they are taxes (by distraint &c;, under Section 103) 'payments due to the Municipal Council under the provisions of the Act' or 'under any contract made in accordance with Section 147, 209 and 218,'. (This, of course, excludes moneys due under any contract made in accordance with the powers given under other sections (like Section 144). Further, moneys due under 'contracts' entered into in the exercise of powers given by statutory provisions enabling a corporation to enter into contracts cannot be called moneys due (that is directly due) under the provisions of the Statute. They are directly due under the contract and hence Section 269 makes a distinction between dues 'under the provisions of the Act' and due 'under the contract '.

6. But money which immediately accrues due by a person through the exercise of the powers vested in the Municipal Council by Clause (3) of Section 147 are, in my opinion, 'payments due under the provisions of this Act' and can therefore be recovered as taxes under Section 269, though there may be a contract (that is, an express agreement) to pay such dues and hence though they do not fall within the clause 'dues under any contract under Section 147'. The fact that even for payment of such moneys, a house-owner is expected to sign a form in which he agrees to pay such dues (see G. O. No. E. II) or the fact that Section269 places Section. 147, 209 and 218 on the same footing does not, in my opinion, necessarily involve the conclusion that just as moneys become payable under Section. 209 and 218 only under contracts, moneys can become due even under Clause (3) of Section 147 only under a contract.

7. No doubt, there is the maxim that statutory provisions imposing liability on citizens should be construed strictly. But as Maxwell says at pages 487 and 488 (5th edition), 'the principle of strict construction is less applicable where the powers are conferred on public representative bodies for essentially public purposes'.

8. In the result, having given my best consideration to the arguments of the learned vail for the respondent (Mr. M. E. Narasimhachari, who, I may be permitted to state, argued his case very ably and lucidly) I concur with the order of my learried brother that the decrees of the lower courts should be set aside and that the respondent's suit should be dismissed with appellant's costs in this Court in these two connected appeals, the parties bearing their respective costs in the lower Courts

Spencer, J.

9. The defendant is the Municipal Council of Conjeevaram represented by its Chairman and the plaintiff is a house-owner living within the limits of that Municipality. The question of law argued in these second appeals is whether the Municipal Council was acting lawfully and within its powers in recovering from the plaintiff a sum due from him for taking water in excess of the prescribed quantity for his domestic use. The answer to this depends on the interpretation to be placed on Section. 147 and 269 of the District Municipalities Act (Madras Act IV of 1884, as modified by Acts III of 1897 and V of 1909.)

10. The District Munsif rightly held that the Chairman had power to restrict the quantity of water to be supplied for domestic purposes and did so limit the plaintiff's supply to his knowledge and fix a rate, but he was of opinion that the defendant Council could not collect the amount due as water charge unless there was a contract in writing between the Council and the house-owner. On this point he is clearly wrong, as Section 147(3) of the amended Act declares that for all water taken for domestic purposes in excess of the limit allowed, payments shall be made at such rate as may be prescribed by the Municipal Council. There is no reference in this Clause (3) to any contract. A power is given to the Municipal Council to fix the rate independently of the consent of the house-owners to pay it.

11. The Subordinate Judge considered that as the plaintiff entered into a contract with the Council for supplying him with water under the old Act, that contract must hold good until a fresh contract was entered into under the amended Act, I am unable to agree with him. It seems to me obvious that when a new liability is introduced by newly enacted provisions of law it has the effect of annulling all contracts made under the repealed provisions.

12. Under the Act of 1884 it was provided by Section 147(1) that no payment should be demanded on account of water supplied for domestic purposes, but this section as now amended provides for the quantity supplied for this purpose being limited to such quantity as the Chairman may deem reasonable with reference to the annual rateable value of the house-owner's buildings.

13. It is argued for the respondent that if a house-owner wastes water or neglects or refuses to enter into any contract with the Council or omits to pay his dues under Section 149, his supply might be cut off under Section 149 A. But there is nothing in the Act to prevent action being taken simultaneously under each of these provisions of the Act or to lay down the order in which action should be taken to enforce payment under these several sections.

14. Section 269 enables sums due under the provisions of this Act to be recovered as if they were taxes; and taxes are recoverable by distress upon the defaulter's moveable property under Section 103.

15. Section 269 also provides for payments due under any contract made in accordance with Section 147 being recovered in a similar manner. This authority for recovering sums due under contract does not eliminate the previously mentioned authority for recovering sums due under the provisions of the Act, one of those provisions being Section 147(3). It is possible that in one and the same Municipal area there may be house-owners taking water for domestic and non-domestic purposes under contracts made under the first two clauses of Section 147, and others taking water without a contract. Section 269 simply provides for both classes of cases, as the words used are evidently intended to be all embracing and not destructive of the effect of other words in the same section.

16. Upon this view the action of the Chairman was authorised by law and the appeals must be allowed and the plaintiff's suits dismissed with costs in this Court. Each side will bear their own costs in the courts below.


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