1. The question in this case is whether the assignee of a promissory note can sue in the Court having jurisdiction where his assignment was made. The learned Judge has decided in the affirmative applying Read v. Brown (1888) 22 Q.B.D. 128.
2. If the matter was res Integra, I should be inclined to dissent from his decision, because its consequence in India would be inconvenient in the extreme and I should be unwilling to adopt an interpretation of Section 20(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure, which would authorise evasions of the restrictions imposed by the section by means of an easy device. But the general definition of cause of action contained in Read v. Brown (1888) 22 Q.B.D. 128 has been accepted in numerous cases in this 'country, Arunachellam Chetty v. Meyyappa Chetty I.L.R. (1897) Mad. 91 : 8 M.L.J. 28, Ittappan v. Manavikrama I.L.R. (1897) Mah. 153: 8 M.L.J. 92, Dobson and Barlow Ltd. v. The Bengal Spinning and Weaving Company I.L.R. (1896) Bom. 126, Murti v. Bhola Ram I.L.R. (1896) All. 403, Sheo Prasad v. Lalit Kuar I.L.R. (1896) All. 403, Dan Dayal v. Manna Lal I.L.R. (1914) All. 564 and in Raghoonath Misser v. Gobindnarain I.L.R. (1895) Cal. 451 it was expressly held that execution of an assignment within the jurisdiction would enable the Calcutta High Court to entertain the suit with reference to Clause 12 of its charter, the terms of which are not for the present purpose distinguishable from those of Section 20(c). In these circumstances I am constrained to concur in the decision of the learned Judge and I would therefore dismiss the Letters Patent appeal with costs.
3. The question for our decision is, whether the assignment of a promissory note by the payee to the plaintiff is a part of the cause of action within the meaning of Section 20, Clause (c), C.P.C. so as to give jurisdiction to the Court within whose local limits it took place. The learned Judge who heard the revision petition and against whose judgment the present appeal is filed answered the question in the affirmative following Read v. Brown (1873) L.E. 8 . After careful consideration I am inclined to agree with him.
4. The case quoted was one of an assignment of a debt and arose under the Mayor's Court Procedure Act 20 and 21 Vict. C. Clause VII and the expression to be construed was 'cause of action arising wholly or in part within the City of London or the liberties thereof.' The Master of the Rolls Lord Esher and Fry and Lopes, L. JJ. defined 'cause of action' as 'including every fact necessary to be proved, if traversed, in order to enable plaintiff to sustain his action and which if not proved will give the defendant an immediate right to judgment;' and held that the assignment alleged was part of the cause of action. That case is very similar to the present case and the words construed are the same as in Clause (c) Section 20. It followed a previous decision in Cooke v. Gill (1873) L.E. 8 and was itself subsequently affirmed in Coburn v. Colledge (1897) 1 Q.B. 702 : it has been accepted in England as settling the meaning of the expression ' cause of action.'
5. The definition given in it is no doubt a very comprehensive one. All the High Courts in India have accepted and acted upon it in numerous decisions under various sections of the Code and Section 12 of the Letters Patent; see for example Ittappan v. Manavikrama I.L.R. (1897) Mad. 153 and Murti v. Bholaram I.L.R. (1893) A. 165 under Section 43 of the old Code; Arunachellam Chetty v. Meyyappa Chetty I.L.R. (1897) Mad. 91 as to res judicata; Salima Bibi v. Sheikh Muhammad I.L.R. (1896) A. 131 and Rajjo Kuar v. Debi Dial I.L.R. (1896) A. 432 under Sections 31 and 45 of the old Code and Deep Narain Singh v. Dieter I.L.R. (1903) C. 271 and Dobson and Barlow Ltd. v. Bengal Spinning and Weaving Co I.L.R. (1896) B. 126 under Section 12 of the Letters Patent. In Dan Dayal v. Manna Lal I.L.R. (1914) A. 564 the definition was adopted in a case under cl. (c) of Section 20 itself. In Raghoonath Misser v. Gobindnarain I.L.R. (1895) 0. 451 the indorsement of a hundi was held to be a part of the cause of action under Section 12 of the Letters Patent though Bead v. Brown (1888) 22 Q.B.D. 128 was not referred to. The only case cited where that definition was not accepted is Haramani Dassi v. Haricharan Chowdhry I.L.R. (1895) C. 833 ; that was a case under Section 31 of the old Code and is in conflict with the Allahabad rulings above noted. In a case under Section 103 of the Code of 1877 (Act X) the Privy Council held that the ' cause of action' meant ' the grounds set forth in the plaint as cause of action or in other words the media upon which the plaintiff asks the Court to arrive at a conclusion in his favour ' ; see Chand Kuar v. Partab Singh I.L.R. (1888) C. 98.
6. Thus there is a strong current of authority in India for accepting the definition of cause of action in Bead v. Brown (1888) 22 Q.B.D. 128 and I have no doubt we must follow it.
7. If the words ' cause of action' mean the cause of action set out by the plaintiff in his plaint as held by the Privy Council in Chand Kuar v. Partab Singh I.L.R. (1888) C. 98 above cited, we must necessarily hold that the assignment in plaintiff's favour is an essential part of his cause of action for without it he could not have sued on the note as he has done. There is nothing in the language of Section 20, C.P. Code, itself to show that a restricted meaning should be placed upon the expression ' cause of action '. It was suggested that the term may be taken to mean the cause of action on the document sued on, irrespective of the rights of the plaintiff under it; or in other words the cause of action as existed when the right to sue on the note arose for the first time in which case plaintiff's asignment will not be part of it. I think this suggestion cannot be accepted. The term has to be read with reference to the suit instituted by the plaintiff, dealt with under Section 20 ; it must then mean plaintiff's cause of action.
8. It may be that the adoption of a wide meaning for the term 'cause of action ' will lead to inconvenience to defendants in particular cases ; but that fact cannot, it seems to me, be used to control our interpretation of the section. A similar argument was raised in Read v. Brown (1888) 22 Q.B.P. 128 but was overruled. See judgment of Manisty, J. If any undesirable results will follow it will be for the Legislature to set the matter right. I may observe that both under the Letters Patent and the Presidency Small Cause Court's Act where a suit is allowed to be filed if a part of the cause of action arose within jurisdiction, the Legislature has made it conditional on leave being previously obtained from the Court; for some reason not apparent perhaps because of Section 22, C.P.C. no such condition is imposed under Section 20, Clause (c).
9. The ruling in Salig Ram v. Chaha Mal I.L.R. (1911) A. 49 is, it seems to me, not in point as it dealt with a case of principal and agent whereas the present case is one on a promissory note. On the finding that no part of the cause of action arose in Hathras, as not only the making of the contract, the performance of it and the payment of the money under it were to be in Karachi but the negligence or misconduct of the agent was also in Karachi, the learned Judges held that the Hathras Court had no jurisdiction. That ruling, if I may say so with respect, is clearly correct. But with all respect I am not prepared to agree with the observation that Clause (c) of Section 20, C.P.C. must be taken to mean exactly what Section 17 Clause (a) with explanation III of the repealed Code meant in all cases of contract. The words of the present Code are similar to those in the Letters Patent and seem to be manifestly wider in scope.
10. For the above reasons I agree with the judgment of Napier, J. and will dismiss the appeal with costs.