1. For some time before 1st July 1941 - the exact period has not been disclosed to the Court - the South Indian Railway Company, Ltd., booked consignments of rice from stations on the company's line to Galle in Ceylon at a rate less than it had previously charged.. The new rate was known as the concession rate and was the only rate ruling in the month of June 1941. On the 15th of that month, the company cancelled the concession rate and reverted to the old rate as from 1st July 1941. The change was notified in the Local Rate Advice No. 6 of 1941, which was circulated to all stations on the company's system. In July 1941, the petitioner wished to consign two waggons of rice from Tanjore to Galle and five waggons of this commodity from Adhirampatnam to the same destination. Rice so consigned is carried over the South Indian Railway system' to Dhanushkodi where it is shipped to Thalamannar and then. placed on the Ceylon Government Railway. The booking clerks at Tanjore and at Adhirampatnam accepted these consignments. Both of them forgot that the concession rate had been cancelled and consequently the consignments were accepted at the concession rate. The evidence of the station master at Adhirampatnam is to the effect that a statement of the new rates was hung up in the station premises for the information of the public. The petitioner's consignment from. that station was accepted on 11th July 1941. The consignment from Tanjore was accepted on 1st July 1941. When the goods arrived at Galle the mistake had been discovered and the Ceylon Government Railway refused to deliver the goods to the consignee unless the difference between, the concession rate and the ordinary rate was. paid. The petitioner was compelled to comply with this demand, which meant the disbursement of an additional sum of Rs. 766-10-9. As he considered that the further demand was unlawful, he filed a suit in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Trichinopoly to recover the amount. The suit was numbered S. C. S. No. 64 of 1942. The Subordinate Judge held that by reason of Clause 5 of the conditions set out on the face of the forwarding note the petitioner was. not entitled to recover and accordingly dismissed his suit. The petitioner has applied under Section 25, Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887, for revision of the decree passed by the Subordinate Judge. The South Indian Railway Company Ltd.,, and the Ceylon Government Railway were both made defendants in the suit and they are the respondents in this petition. They contend that the decision of the Subordinate Judge is right, but they say that in any event the petitioner was precluded from suing by reason of, Condition No. 8 printed on the back of the forwarding note.
2. Condition No. 5 on the face of the document reads as follows:
I agree that the railway company have the right of re-measurement, re-weighment, re-classification and re-calculation of rates, terminals and other charges at the place of destination, and of collecting before the goods are delivered any amount that may have been omitted or undercharged.
Obviously the demand for the additional amount was not based on re-measurement or re-weighment. The respondents claim that it is based on a re-classification and re-calculation of rates. Numerous cases have been referred to in the course of the arguments on this question but we do not consider it necessary to discuss them. In our opinion, this is clearly not a case of re-classification or of re-calculation of rates. There was only one class of rice and the arithmetic was correct. The mistake was in charging a rate which had been cancelled instead of charging the rate which had been prescribed, and the only rate which could be lawfully charged. Therefore, if the case fell to be decided on Condition No. 5 of the conditions on the face of the forwarding note, the consignor's case would be well-founded; but we consider that the railways are entitled to judgment by reason of Condition No. 8 of the -conditions printed on the reverse of the document.
3. There is a prescribed form of forwarding note. It is addressed to the South Indian Railway Company Ltd., and commences with these words:
Please receive the undermentioned goods, and forward by goods train to... on... Railway as consigned below, and subject to the following conditions, which are accepted by me, namely, . . .
Then are set out six conditions. Below the conditions are columns for the insertion by the consignor of the particulars required by the Railway. Having inserted the particulars the consignor is required to sign this statement:
I do hereby certify that I have satisfied myself that the description, marks, value and weight or quantity of goods consigned by me have been correctly entered in this Forwarding Note, and I agree to be bound by the conditions printed above and at the back of this Forwarding Note; and on the railway receipt granted for these goods.
The petitioner filled in the required particulars and appended his signature as required.
4. On the back of the forwarding note there are 11 conditions, No. 8 of which reads as follows:
Goods booked to stations on the South Indian Railway or Railways worked by the South Indian Railway are carried subject to the rules and conditions printed from time to time in the railway company's Goods tariff, and goods booked to or over a foreign railway are subject to the rules and regulations and to wharfage and other charges in force on such railway.
Sub-s. (1) of Section 55, Railways Act, 1890, states that if a person fails to pay on demand made by or on behalf of a railway administration a rate, terminal or other charge due from him in respect of animals or goods, it may detain them. Sub-section (5) says that, notwithstanding anything in the previous sub-sections, the railway administration may recover by suit a rate, terminal or other charge or balance thereof.
5. Rule 15 of the rules published in the Goods Tariff of the South Indian Railway states that the weight, description and classification of goods, and quotation of rates as given in the railway receipt and forwarding note are merely inserted for the purpose of estimating the railway charges and the railway reserves the right of re-measurement, re-weighment, re-classification and recalculation of rates, terminals and other charges and correction of 'any other' errors at the place of destination and of collecting any amount that may have been omitted or undercharged. No admission is conveyed by a railway receipt that the weight as shown therein has been received or that the description of goods as furnished by the consignor is correct. The rules of the Ceylon Government Railway contain similar provisions.
6. Under me contract entered into between the petitioner and the South Indian Railway Company Ltd., the petitioner agreed to pay the rate according to the company's goods tariff. By mistake the concession rate which had been cancelled was charged, but the contract provided for the rectification of the mistake. The petitioner must be deemed to have had notice of the cancellation of the concession rate and the re-imposition of the ordinary rate. The alteration in the rate had been notified in the ordinary way and a copy of the order revising the rate had been posted at the Adhirampatnam station. Inasmuch as the petitioner accepted the rate set forth in the Tariff (which means the amended tariff) and agreed to the rectification of any mistake he cannot object to the additional charge. Failure to read the conditions on the back of the forwarding note would not help him. The principle in Parker v. S.E. Rly (1877) 2 C.P.D. 416 would apply here. It has also to be remembered that the authority of a booking clerk to enter into such contracts is restricted. He cannot lawfully accept a consignment at a rate outside the tariff. Further the officials of the Ceylon Government Railway also had the right of refusing to deliver the goods to the consignee until the additional payment had been made. In these circumstances we hold that the petitioner's suit does not lie. We may add that support for this opinion is to be found in the decisions of the Allahabad High Court in Bhagwati Prasad v. B.B. and C.I. Rly : AIR1940All235 and the judgment of Somayya J. in Manal Krishna Nayak and Sons v. S.I. Rly A.I.R. 1942 Mad. 627.
7. The petition will be dismissed with costs.