1. Two suits were brought against the petitioner and another on the ground that the petitioner's father and the other defendant were partners in a business to which sums of money were lent by the plaintiffs in these suits. These suits, were decreed.
2. Various objections are raised to these decrees. One is that as the suits had been laid on the footing of a partnership, it was not open to the Court to pass decrees in favour of the plaintiffs on the footing of a holding out by the petitioner's father, which would, make him liable under Section 28 of the Partnership Act for the sums 6f money advanced. The suits were brought on the facts as they seemed to the plaintiffs, who deduced their legal relationship from the conduct of the 2nd defendant and the 1st defendant's father in S. C. S. No. 2004 of 1938. It was only at the time of the trial, on account of evidence adduced by the 1st defendant, that some doubt was thrown on the existence of the partnership. The evidence adduced for proving a partnership proved the holding out; and the defendant petitioner was not prejudiced by the fact that the suits were not brought on the footing of a holding out. Moreover, the learned District Munsiff seems to have found that there was a partnership; though certain sentences two paragraphs later would rather suggest the contrary. In paragraph 43 of his judgment, the learned District Munsiff definitely says, 'I have come to the conclusion that Suppayya Ambalam, father of 1st defendant, was a partner with Rama-swami Pillai in P. Rm. firm'; but in paragraph 45 he says, 'Therefore on the facts proved in this case Suppayya Ambalam must be held liable on the principle of holding out laid down in Section 2'8 of the Indian Partnership Act.' In view, however, of the definite language used in paragraph 43, it would seem that the District Munsiff was of the opinion that the 1st defendant's father's estate would be liable both on the ground that the father was a partner and on the principle of holding himself out as a partner.
3. The second contention raised in these petitions is that the 1st defendant's father was a village officer and was prohibited by the Government Servants' Conduct Rules from engaging in business without the permission of the Government, and that therefore all the transactions that were entered into on account of the partnership were null and void. The learned advocate for the petitioner cites Sundrabai v. Manohar : AIR1933Bom262 . in support of his contention. Although the Government Servants' Conduct Rules contain this provision and though its infringement would amount to misconduct which, under the Village Officers' Act is punishable, yet that does not mean that every act which is the subject of misconduct is null and void. Such misconduct can, and frequently is, condoned and excused; but a breach of a statute cannot be. The authority quoted does not go so far; and it expressly draws a distinction between disobedience of the Government Servants' Conduct Rules and doing an act prohibited by statute. That case related to a police officer who had purchased land in contravention of Section 33 of the Police Act. It is pointed out that where an act is prohibited by statute it becomes null and void; and the learned Judges distinguish an Allahabad case on the ground that the transaction there was prohibited only by the Government Servants' Conduct Rules.
4. Lastly, it is contended that a decree should not have been given against the 1st defendant petitioner on the pious obligation theory without an express reference in the plaint to the source of the obligation. The principle of law whereby a son becomes liable for his father's debts unless they are immoral or illegal is too well-known to need special pleading.
5. On all grounds, therefore, these petitions fail and are dismissed with costs (two sets).