1. The question involved in this appeal is one of limitation. The plaintiff sues for the recovery of certain jewels described in Schedule A to the plaint and certain articles described in Schedule B. His case is that he deposited with the defendant's son for safe custody the jewels mentioned in Schedule A, and that he left in the house, which he occupied along with the defendant's son, the articles mentioned in B schedule, when he vacated it, on the 14th December, 1918. The defendants deny the deposit, as well as the allegation that the B schedule properties were left in the house, occupied by the defendant's son. The defendant's son seems to have died on the 6th December, 1918, and his wife, the 1st plaintiff's sister, died on the 18th December. The learned City Civil Judge has dismissed the suit, on the ground that Article 48 of the Limitation Act applied, and the suit having been brought more than 3 years from the date of the alleged deposit was barred by limitation.
2. Mr. Bhashyam Aiyangar, for the appellant, contends that the proper article applicable to a case of this kind, is Article 145, under which he has 30 years to bring a suit. The learned Judge has taken the view that the suit is not based upon a contract, but upon tort, inasmuch as the plaintiff stated that the defendants were in wrongful possession of the jewels. In a case like this, where no evidence has been adduced, it is the averments in the plaint that have to be looked to, and not any case that may be set up in evidence, on the side of the defendants. The defendants' statement is a mere denial of the plaintiffs' allegations.
3. That being so, the plaintiffs' allegation that they deposited the jewels mentioned in Schedule A with the defendant's son, should be taken as the sole basis for considering what period of limitation is applicable to the case. Mr. Desikachari, who appears for the respondent, contends that the son being dead, the suit against the depository does not lie, and his clients, being alleged to be in possession of such property, should be held to be persons, who have converted the property to their own use, and therefore either Article 48 or Article 49 is applicable, in which case the suit is barred.
4. But I fail to appreciate the argument on behalf of the respondents; for, in the case of a bailee, or depository, or pawnee, it cannot be said that the contract of bailment, or deposit or pawn comes to an end, on the death of the bailee, depository, or pawnee; and the legal representative who succeeds to the estate of the deceased is bound by any contract to which the deceased was a party. That being so, I. think the proper article of the Limitation Act applicable to a case like the one set out in the plaint, viz., of deposit, is Article 145.
5. So far as the jewels mentioned in Schedule A are concerned, Article 145 is the proper article to be applied.
6. As regards the articles mentioned in Schedule B, to the plaint, the contention on behalf of the respondents is that Article 49, should be held to be applicable. Article 49 is in these terms:
For other specific movable property, or for compensation for wrongfully taking, or injuring, or wrongfully detaining the same.
7. When the plaintiff vacated the house, which he occupied with the defendant's son he left according to his own statement certain articles. There is no allegation in the written statement that these were converted to the use of defendants. If such an allegation was made, and if conversion was more than 3 years old, no doubt the plaintiff's suit would be barred. Then we have to see whether Article 48 would be applicable to the claim, in respect of the B Schedule properties. Article 48 applies to a suit for the recovery of the specific movable property lost, or acquired by theft, or dishonest misappropriation, or conversion, or compensation for wrongfully taking, or detaining the same.
8. As I have already said, the defendants did not plead that these properties were converted to their use, more than three years before the date of suit. Their being in possession cannot be held to be wrongful, so long as they did not convert them to their own use, inconsistent with the plaintiff's ownership. Their denial that they ever came into possession of such property precludes the contention that they converted them to their own use. Mr. Desikachari relies upon Arunachalam Pillai v. Alagambia Pillai (1907) 3 M.L.J. 324. That case has no application to the facts of the present case as there was no deposit in that case. Taking all the averments in the plaint into consideration, as well as the statements in the written statement, I think the learned Judge erred in holding that either Article 48 or Article 49 applied to the claim for B schedule properties.
9. As I have already stated, Article 145 applies to the claim, in respect of A schedule jewels; and as regards B schedule articles, the claim is made within three years, and time began to run only from the date, when there was refusal to deliver, or denial that the defendants were in possession of such property. I therefore set aside the decree of the City Civil Judge and direct him to restore the suit to his file and dispose of it according to law. Costs of this appeal will abide the result.
10. The appellants will be entitled to a refund of the Court-fee paid in this Court.