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Arunachalam Chettiar and anr. Vs. Murugappa Chettiar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported inAIR1956Mad629; (1956)2MLJ372
AppellantArunachalam Chettiar and anr.
RespondentMurugappa Chettiar and anr.
Cases ReferredArab Bank Ltd. v. Barclays Bank
Excerpt:
- - but later on, as is well-known, burma got itself declared as a republic, and there are no reciprocal arrangements between india and burma now. ..we would certainly have been bound by the decision of our supreme court, if the deposit had been made in a bank in rangoon payable there, for it is well-known that in the case of deposit in such banking institutions, even if the head office is situated in a particular place but the deposit is made in a branch office, the suit can be only in the place where the branch exists......stipulated. what survived the outbreak of war was the original debt, and the original debt was a debt payable at the respondent's branch in jerusalem on demand there. the right to demand and to sue for that debt was suspended, but i do not see how that suspension could alter the nature of the debt....we would certainly have been bound by the decision of our supreme court, if the deposit had been made in a bank in rangoon payable there, for it is well-known that in the case of deposit in such banking institutions, even if the head office is situated in a particular place but the deposit is made in a branch office, the suit can be only in the place where the branch exists. in the present case it is admitted that the origin of the transaction was a hundi drawn in india and the.....
Judgment:

Govinda Menon, J.

1. The defendants are the appellants in this appeal which arises out of a suit for recovery of a sum of Rs. 13,100-6-0 on foot of a deposit made in Burma payable in Rangoon under Exhibits B-1 and A-1. The Lower Court has held that the suit is maintainable in the Madras State and decreed the same with interest at certain rates. Aggrieved by that decision, the defendants have come up here.

2. The main question that has been argued by Mr. Krishna Rao, for the appellants, is that the Indian Courts have no jurisdiction, especially because under Exhibit A-1, the principal sum together with interst at the Rangoon nadappu rate less one-sixteenth was payable at Rangoon and that being the case and the situs of the debt being in a foreign country, municipal Courts here have no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. The origin of ' the debt is a deposit at Paungde in Burma on 17th January, 1928, when India and Burma formed part of the British Empire. But later on, as is well-known, Burma got itself declared as a Republic, and there are no reciprocal arrangements between India and Burma now. According to the arguments of Mr. Krishna Rao though the transaction took place in Paungde, the payment has to be made in Rangoon, and therefore, even if the defendants are residents of the Madras State and also carry on business here, still the very letter of the agreements, Exhibits A-1 to A-13, had to be enforced and the suit dismissed. Reliance is placed for this contention on the observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in The Delhi Cloth and General Mills Co. Ltd. v. Harnam Singh and Ors. : [1955]2SCR402 . At the latter page, Bose, J., observes as follows:

In banking transactions the following rules are now settled: (1) the obligation of a bank to pay the cheques of a customer rests primarily on the branch at which he keeps his account and the bank can rightly refuse to cash a cheque at any other branch: Rex v. Lovitt (1912) A.C. 212 ; Bank of Travancore v. Dhrit Ram (1942) 2 M.L.J. 256 : 1942 L.R. 69 IndAp 1 : I.L.R. (1942) Bom. 318 and New York Life Insurance Co. v. Public L.R. (1924) 2 Ch. 101 ; (2) a customer must make a demand for payment at the branch where his current account is kept before he has a cause of action against the bank; Joachimson v. Swiss Bank Corporation L.R. (1921) 3 K.B. 110, quoted with approval by Lord Reid in Arab Bank, Ltd. v. Barclays Bank (1954) A.C. 495 . The rule is the same whether the account is a current account or whether it is a deposit. The last two cases refer, to a current account; the Privy Council Case Bank of Travancore v. Dhrit Ram (1942) 2 M.L.J. 256 : 1942 L.R. 69 IndAp 1 : I.L.R. (1942) Bom. 318 (P.C.), was a case of deposit. Either way, there must be a demand by the customer at the branch where the current account is kept, or where the deposit is made and kept, before the bank need pay, and for these reasons the English Courts hold that the situs of the debt is at the place where the current account is kept and where the demand must be made.

The foundation of the judgment of the learned Judge is the decision of the Judicial Committee in Arab Bank Ltd. v. Barclays Bank (1954) A.C. 495 . At page 535, Lord Reid expressed the following opinion:

Alternatively, on the footing that their original rights were not totally abrogated, they contend that the original debt was only situated in Jerusalem because of the terms of the contract, and once those terms have been abrogated, the debt ceased to be situated there and became due as an ordinary debt in England where the respondents have their principal place of business. That would be a startling result. In times when transfer of money from one country to another is restricted, it may be of great importance to a debtor that his debt should only be payable at the place stipulated. What survived the outbreak of war was the original debt, and the original debt was a debt payable at the respondent's branch in Jerusalem on demand there. The right to demand and to sue for that debt was suspended, but I do not see how that suspension could alter the nature of the debt....

We would certainly have been bound by the decision of our Supreme Court, if the deposit had been made in a bank in Rangoon payable there, for it is well-known that in the case of deposit in such banking institutions, even if the head office is situated in a particular place but the deposit is made in a branch office, the suit can be only in the place where the branch exists. In the present case it is admitted that the origin of the transaction was a hundi drawn in India and the hand-letter, Exhibit A-1, is nothing but an ordinary promissory note stamped as such with endorsements resembling those made on such negotiable instruments for the purpose of saving limitation. There is an unconditional stipulation to pay in Exhibit A-1 and it is not as if a time is fixed for the return of the deposit. It is not also that the document is couched or framed in the nature of deposit receipts. As observed by one of us (Ramaswami, J.) during the course of the arguments, in the Nattukottai community, documents, which are ordinary promissory notes are framed in the manner of letters but stamped as such and nobody mistakes such transactions as anything other than dealings on promissory notes. We are, therefore, of opinion that Exhibit A-1 is nothing but a promissory note. If that is so, if a note is executed at one place and delivered at another or is made payable at another place, part of the cause of action arises at each one of those places and the suit may be filed at any place at the option of the plaintiff. There is abundant authority both Indian and English for the above proposition. We are, therefore, of opinion that the Lower Court has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

3. There is no difficulty with regard to the rate of interest. But Mr. Krishna Rao contends that the defendants have got large assets in Burma but could not bring any money to India under the existing conditions. He also contended that according to Burma Act XI of 1947, no interest shall accrue or be payable on any loan made in Burma before the 5th May, 1942. But the difficulty in accepting this argument is that the loan was not made in Burma and, even if it was a loan made there, according to the canons of Private International Law whether this Court can take notice of that legislation is somewhat doubtful. In any event, we are of opinion that on a construction of Exhibit A-1 and on the evidence in the case, it is clear that the transaction took place in India, though investment was sought to be made in a Burma Bank.

4. The decision of the Lower Court is therefore right. But considering the present day conditions and the difficulty of bringing any kind of currency from Burma to India, we give the appellant six months' time from to-day to pay the decree amount. The plaintiffs can execute the decree only after the 16th September, 1956. With these observations, the appeal is dismissed with costs.


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