1. Two persons named Appana Krishnabrahmam and Appana Krishnamurthy conducted a partnership business, but the firm was not registered. They are the plaintiffs in the suit. The defendants are two persons who executed the promissory note (Ex. A) in favour of the plaintiffs. The trial Court, by considering matters extraneous to Ex. A, held that the suit was not maintainable because the firm was not registered. In appeal, the Subordinate Judge said that although that might be the case, the plaintiffs should be allowed to amend the plaint; for after the filing of the suit the firm had registered itself.
2. I agree with Mr. Somasundaram for the appellants that the ground on which the learned Subordinate Judge remanded the suit was wrong; but it seems clear to me that the suit was maintainable in the original form in which it was filed. The promissory note was executed in the names of Appana Krishnabrahmam Garu and Krishnamurthi Garu. That means that the only persons who can sue on that promissory note are Appana Krishnabrahmam and Krishnamurthi. There is no mention of the firm in the promissory note; and I do not think that the fact that was written after the two names and not a separate after each name makes any real difference. The promissory note was executed in favour of these two persons and not of the firm of which they were the partners.
3. It was made clear by a Full Bench of this Court in Subba Narayana Vadhiar v. Ramaswami Iyer : (1906)16MLJ508 that no person can sue on a negotiable instrument unless lie is, named therein as payee or unless he had become entitled as endorsee or bearer. The decision of the Privy Council in Sadasuk Jankidas v. Sir Kishan Pershad (1918) 36 M.L.J. 429 : L.R. 46 IndAp 33 : I.L.R. 46 Cal. 663 (P.C.) which is the basis for the subsequent cases on that point, says that the name of the person or firm to be charged upon a negotiable instrument should be clearly stated on the face or on the back of the document so that the responsibility is made plain, and can be instantly recognised as the document passes from hand to hand. It is true that in this case we are concerned with the payee and not with the maker of the note; but the payee would also be liable if the instrument were negotiated and only the person noted in the promissory note as the payee would be liable in a suit by a subsequent holder. Their Lordships of the Privy Council go further and say:
It is not sufficient that the name of the principal should be ' in some way' disclosed, it must be disclosed in such a way that on any fair interpretation of the instrument his name is the real name of the person liable on the bill.
That disposes of the subtle argument of the learned District Munsiff, that the omission of the house-name of Krishnamurthi and the use of the word indicates that it is not the individuals who are the payees, but the firm. This was emphasised by a Full Bench of five judges of this Court recently in Sivagurunatha v. Padmavathi : AIR1941Mad417 , where they point out that the decision of the Privy Council in Sadasuk Jankidas v. Sir Kishan Pershad (1918) 36 M.L.J. 429 : L.R. 46 IndAp 33 : I.L.R. 46 Cal. 663 (p.C.) had not been followed in some of the subsequent cases. The learned Judges say:
In construing such an instrument (promissory note) the Court cannot look beyond what is stated in the instrument.
Mr. Somasundaram refers to Shanmughanatha Chettiar v. Srinivasa Iyer : (1916)31MLJ138 , a decision of a Bench of this Court in which no mention was made in the promissory note of the name of the firm but nevertheless a partner who was not a party to the promissory note was made liable. Though this case was not specifically referred to in Sivagurunatha v. Padmavathi : AIR1941Mad417 , it seems clear that it departs very considerably from the principle laid down in Subba Narayana Vadhiar v. Ramaswami Iyer : (1906)16MLJ508 , Sadasuk Jankidas v. Sir Kishan Pershad (1918) 36 M.L.J. 429 : L.R. 46 IndAp 33 : I.L.R. 46 Cal. 663 (P.C.) and Sivagurunatha v. Padmavathi : AIR1941Mad417 and so cannot now be considered to be good law.
4. The appeal is therefore dismissed with costs. This means that the remand order will stand and the District Munsiff will dispose of it on the footing of its being a suit by Appana Krishnabrahmam and Appana Krishnamurthi personally. The fact that they have a right to sue on the promissory note in their personal capacity does not prevent them of course from contending that the promissory note was executed in discharge of some amount due to the firm of which they were partners.
5. The memorandum of cross-objections is now unnecessary and is dismissed; no costs.