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Malabar Forest and Rubber Company Limited Vs. D.H. Macleod and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1926Mad270
AppellantMalabar Forest and Rubber Company Limited
RespondentD.H. Macleod and anr.
Excerpt:
.....the defendant's conduct with some suspicion. though the defendants have deviated from truth in this respect, i cannot allow that fact to stand in their way and i am satisfied that the decision of the district judge is in law wrong and i accardingly allow the appeal and dismiss the suit with costs throughout......the other source of income in kottanad. i was the sole superintendent and i had also to get the timber work done. i told mr. chari that there was a lot of timber on the estate.3. mr. chari referred to mr. raghavachari who negotiated the purchase of the kottanad estate for the defendant company. let me now turn to another admission of the plaintiff.i do not claim to be a timber expert. i know nothing practically about timber.4. indeed, the district judge makes a point of the plaintiff's ignorance of the work connected with timber. exs. 1 and 2 betray such a woeful lack of knowledge that no course was possible to the plaintiff other than admitting that he was utterly ignorant of everything that was in any way connected with timber.5. the extracts i have given above from the plaintiff's.....
Judgment:

Venkatasubba Rao, J.

1. The plaintiff has instituted this suit for recovery of damages in respect of wrongful dismissal. The defendant company justifies its action by alleging that the plaintiff was incompetent and grossly negligent in the discharge of his duties. The trial Court has decided against the plaintiff finding that the dismissal was justified, but on appeal, the decision of the Court of the first Instance was reversed by the District Judge.

2. The lower appellate Court in effect finds that the plaintiff was incompetent, in regard to work that pertained to timber but is of the opinion that that circumstance does not entitle the defendant company to dismiss the plaintiff. Is this position correct Before the employment in question, the plaintiff had been working at Aralam. Regarding his duties at that place, he says In Aralam, it was all timber and no tea.' As the conditions at Aralam were not to his liking, he sought employment at Kottanad under the defendant company. I may observe that the plaintiff some years previously had an interest in this very Kottanad Estate and having become greatly indebted got it sold and the defendant company became the purchaser. The plaintiff's designation was 'Superintendent of the Kottanad Estates.' What then were his duties? Part of his work related to tea. The plaintiff having said this, deposes next:

Timber was the other source of income in Kottanad. I was the sole Superintendent and I had also to get the timber work done. I told Mr. Chari that there was a lot of timber on the estate.

3. Mr. Chari referred to Mr. Raghavachari who negotiated the purchase of the Kottanad Estate for the defendant company. Let me now turn to another admission of the plaintiff.

I do not claim to be a timber expert. I know nothing practically about timber.

4. Indeed, the District Judge makes a point of the plaintiff's ignorance of the work connected with timber. Exs. 1 and 2 betray such a woeful lack of knowledge that no course was possible to the plaintiff other than admitting that he was utterly ignorant of everything that was in any way connected with timber.

5. The extracts I have given above from the plaintiff's deposition itself show beyond any possibility of doubt : (1) that it was a part of his duty as Superintendent to do work connected with timber ; and (2) that he was utterly incompetent to discharge this part of his duty.

6. The result of this incompetence has been that the defendants have suffered undoubted loss. I shall take only two outstanding facts.

7. The plaintiff had to get timber out for the purpose of making broad gauge sleepers. The District Judge finds as a fact that the timber was in many instances not of the required length. As a result, the Company suffered considerable damage. These facts are not denied. But the District Judge disposes of the ease in a very curious mannnr. He says that the plaintiff was not given specific instructions on the point, meaning thereby, that he was not specifically told that the required measurement was 9 feet 6 inches. The plaintiff did not put forward any such case. On the contrary, he says very distinctly that he gave definite instructions to the maistry to cut sleepers of this dimension and that accordingly sleepers of the required measurement were in fact cut. I shall once again reproduce his own words.

I gave strict injunction about the length and gave him a rod of 9 feet 6 inches....I personally knew that all the logs were cut into 9 feet 6 inches in length....I tested the whole lot: I saw arid satisfied myself that every piece was long enough for broad gauge sleepers.

8. It is found, as I have said, that this version is not true and that many of the pieces cut were not suitable for the purpose. Where then does absence of instructions come in? I am afraid the District Judge has completely misunderstood the case.

9. Secondly the defendant complains that the plaintiff negligently overpaid the maistry. Apart from other allegations made in this respect, it now transpires, if the plaintiff is to be believed, that the maistry disobeyed instructions and cut the timber into pieces of insufficient lengths. But still the plaintiff would say: 'When I left the estate I paid Rs. 1,050-8-0 to Cherikan Maistry and the balance due to him was only Rs. 8-1-0.'

10. It is unnecessary to enquire into other heads of incompetence and negligence. On the findings of the District Judge I am clearly of the opinion that it has been amply proved that the dismissal was for justifying causes.

11. Mr. Ramachandra Aiyar contends that I must not interfere with any finding of fact. Perfectly true, I have not tried to form my opinion on the evidence.

12. One point that is pressed against the defendant company is that in the letter of dismissal it was stated that the company was thankful to the plaintiff for the services rendered. Mr. Sabnis has explained this by saying that he intended the statement to be ironical. This is clearly not true and on account of this explanation I was naturally disposed to view the defendant's conduct with some suspicion. It is unfortunate that the true explanation was not offered. A careful perusal of the record, however, shows that the defendants were utterly dissatisfied with the plaintiff; that on that account they transferred him to Tamaraeheri within about 6 months of his employment; and that they thought it prudent to get rid of him amicably and even offered a month's wages in lieu of notice thanking him for his past services, but that it was found that the plaintiff was on the war path asserting what he fancied to be his legal rights and that the defendants were then finally driven in selfdefence to retaliate by going up to a lawyer and withdrawing the offer, thus taking up, what they were advised, was strictly a legal stand. Though the defendants have deviated from truth in this respect, I cannot allow that fact to stand in their way and I am satisfied that the decision of the District Judge is in law wrong and I accardingly allow the appeal and dismiss the suit with costs throughout.


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