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D. Vanjeeswara Aiyar Vs. the District Board of South Arcot Represented by Its President and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContract
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1941Mad887; (1941)2MLJ469
AppellantD. Vanjeeswara Aiyar
RespondentThe District Board of South Arcot Represented by Its President and ors.
Excerpt:
- - the object of check-measurement is a salutary one, it clearly being that the local board thinks it necessary that the work of the overseer should be checked and controlled by some engineer of higher standing, upon whose word it can rely. where, by the terms of the contract, the person who does the work agrees that he is not entitled to any remuneration unless the work has been check-measured, then clearly, he cannot claim for any work that has not been check-measured. how far the work of the plaintiff was of value to the district board, in view of the circumstances that it failed to meet with the approval of the engineer, is not clear from the evidence. it is true that the local board could not be expected to pay for work unless it was satisfied that the work was done;.....plaintiff stated that he was told by the overseer that as the value of the work was below rs. 50 check-measurement was unnecessary. although this seems to be so under the p.w.d. rules, there is no such rule in the local board rules or in the contract by which the plaintiff and the district board were bound. the object of check-measurement is a salutary one, it clearly being that the local board thinks it necessary that the work of the overseer should be checked and controlled by some engineer of higher standing, upon whose word it can rely. by the contract, the local body expressly stated that it would not be bound by any measurement that was not check-measured. a provision was no doubt made for advance payments as the work proceeded, upon measurements made by the overseer, subject to.....
Judgment:

Horwill, J.

1. The petitioner brought this suit against the President, District Board, Cuddalore, (the third defendant) the District Board being the successor to the Taluk Board, Vridhachalam, to enforce payment for certain work done by him in pursuance of a contract to remove prickly pear, to do certain earth work, and to plant mile and furlong stones. The suit was dismissed on the ground that according to the terms of the contract, he was not entitled to be paid for work done if it was not check-measured or did not give satisfaction. This petition has been filed by the plaintiff, who contends that even if he is not entitled to the money under the contract, the principle of quantum meruit should be applied and he should therefore be paid for such work as he has done.

2. With regard to the earth work, it appears that Rs. 15 remained unpaid and was carried over to the plaintiff's deposit account. Why actually it was transferred to the deposit account is not very clear; but the learned Munsif considers its carrying over to be a sufficient answer to the plaintiff's claim. The learned advocate for the District Board says that the money has probably been paid to the plaintiff by now; but if it has not been paid, the District Board is willing to do so. He says that the money was transferred to the deposit account because of some shortage of the deposit. I do not think that this matter calls for any interference in revision.

3. With regard to the prickly pear, the difficulty arose because after measurement (called advance measurement) by the overseer, the prickly pear was burnt by the plaintiff before it was check-measured. The plaintiff stated that he was told by the overseer that as the value of the work was below Rs. 50 check-measurement was unnecessary. Although this seems to be so under the P.W.D. Rules, there is no such rule in the Local Board Rules or in the contract by which the plaintiff and the District Board were bound. The object of check-measurement is a salutary one, it clearly being that the Local Board thinks it necessary that the work of the overseer should be checked and controlled by some engineer of higher standing, upon whose word it can rely. By the contract, the local body expressly stated that it would not be bound by any measurement that was not check-measured. A provision was no doubt made for advance payments as the work proceeded, upon measurements made by the overseer, subject to a deduction of 10 per cent; but that payment was provisional and was in no sense binding on the parties. It was subject to proper accounting after check-measurement and after the work had been completed.

4. The principle of quantum meruit is often applied where for some technical reason a contract is held to be invalid. Under such circumstances an implied contract is assumed, by which the person for whom the work is to be done contracts to pay the person who does work reasonably for the work done. There is no room, however, for an implied contract where there is an express contract in existence. Where, by the terms of the contract, the person who does the work agrees that he is not entitled to any remuneration unless the work has been check-measured, then clearly, he cannot claim for any work that has not been check-measured.

5. The work done by the plaintiff in redressing and replanting mile and furlong stones never met with the final approval of the Local Body, represented by the engineer authorised to pass the work. According to the terms of the contract, therefore, the plaintiff was not entitled to receive payment. How far the work of the plaintiff was of value to the District Board, in view of the circumstances that it failed to meet with the approval of the engineer, is not clear from the evidence. We cannot assume a benefit; but if there was, the terms of the contract gave rise to no claim by the plaintiff unless the conditions therein were fulfilled. In this case too, the principle of quantum meruit cannot be applied for the reasons given in the preceding paragraph.

6. While it is necessary to dismiss this petition, I cannot but observe that the conduct of the Local Board has been very reprehensible. The destruction of the prickly pear was probably due to a misapprehension on account of the rules of the Public Works Department which seem to permit payment without check-measurement. It is true that the Local Board could not be expected to pay for work unless it was satisfied that the work was done; but it is clear that work was done in connection with the prickly pear and I feel that the Local Board acted dishonestly in making no payment at all. Even with regard to the planting of mile stones and furlong stones, the Local Body could have and should have paid the plaintiff for any work from which it derived some benefit. Under the circumstances, there will be no order as to costs in this Court.


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