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Somasundaram Chetti Vs. Nachal Achi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimiatation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1935Mad707; 158Ind.Cas.573
AppellantSomasundaram Chetti
RespondentNachal Achi
Cases ReferredMuthia v. Alagabpa
Excerpt:
- .....the order of the district judge of bam-nad, dated 3rd april 1933, in appeal from the decree of the principal subordinate judge, devakottah, dated 12th september 1932 dismissing o.s. no. 155 of 1931, a suit by the plaintiff principal against her agent for accounts, on the ground that it was barred by limitation. the district judge in appeal did not decide the question of limitation himself but remanded the suit for fresh disposal according to law, the only ground alleged for the remand being that the learned subordinate judge had erred in deciding the case as a question of law and should have taken evidence in the case. the sole ground for remand is based on a misapprehension, or rather, on two misapprehensions, namely, that the subordinate judge had decided the question as a question, of.....
Judgment:

Pandrang Row, J.

1. This is an appeal from the order of the District Judge of Bam-nad, dated 3rd April 1933, in appeal from the decree of the Principal Subordinate Judge, Devakottah, dated 12th September 1932 dismissing O.S. No. 155 of 1931, a suit by the plaintiff principal against her agent for accounts, on the ground that it was barred by limitation. The District Judge in appeal did not decide the question of limitation himself but remanded the suit for fresh disposal according to law, the only ground alleged for the remand being that the learned Subordinate Judge had erred in deciding the case as a question of law and should have taken evidence in the case. The sole ground for remand is based on a misapprehension, or rather, on two misapprehensions, namely, that the Subordinate Judge had decided the question as a question, of pure law Mid that he had not taken evidence in the case. As a matter of fact the Subordinate Judge's judgment clearly shows that he was perfectly aware of the fact that the question though one of limitation really depended on a finding on a question of fact, namely, when the agency terminated. In the second place, the Subordinate Judge had taken evidence, and referred to the evidence, which was wholly documentary, in his judgment. He also relied on certain admissions made before him by the plaintiff's advocate, and, in particular on the admission that the defendant had left Dedaye, the place where he was to carry on the business of agent, after handing over charge to his successor more than three years prior to the date of suit. It was after considering the evidence and the admissions that the Subordinate Judge found as a matter of fact that the defendant had ceased to represent the principal in respect of the business for which he had been appointed agent, more than three years prior to the institution of the suit. The order of the District Judge remanding the suit after reversing the decree of the learned Subordinate Judge cannot be supported, because the reasons given in support of it are the result of misapprehension; and it cannot be defended or supported on any other ground. If the question of fact were of a complicated character or if the evidence were voluminous it might be desirable to call for a finding thereon from the lower appellate Court. But in this case the question is comparatively simple and the evidence is quite scanty.

2. There is really no dispute as to what the terms of the agency were. Ex. A, the salary chit, is clear on the point. It is equally clear from the admission of the plaintiff's advocate that the defendant actually left Dedaye after handing over charge to his successor Who had been appointed by the plaintiff, or rather by the plaintiff's husband, more than three years prior to the date of institution of the suit, namely on 1st October 1928. No doubt he returned to India and appeared before the principal only on 13th October 1928 for the purpose of getting the balance of salary due to him and for having his account passed. This however does not throw any light on; the question as to when the agency terminated. The purpose of the agency was to carry on business on behalf of the principal in Dedaye. The rendering of accounts and the drawing of arrears of salary has nothing to do with the business of the agency as such. It is only a matter of accounting between the principal and the agent, and has nothing to do with the representation of the principal by the agent in dealings with third persons. The definition of an agent in the Contract Act is:

An agent is a person employed to do any act for another or to represent another in dealings with third persons.

3. The question as to when the agent; is to get his arrears of salary, and under what conditions, viz. whether only on getting his accounts passed, had nothing to do with the question of the termination of the agency.

4. It was held in Venkatachalam v. Narayan 1916 Mad. 281, that an agency is determined when the agent ceases to represent the principal even though his liability in respect of acts done by him as agent may continue. In that case also there was a condition in the salary chit that the agent was to return to Devakotta and hand over the money and get his account passed. It was held that this condition would not affect the question as to when the agency terminated. The same view was affirmed by the same learned Judges in a subsequent case, Muthia v. Alagabpa 1918 Mad. 31 where they stated that the question when the authority of the agent to represent his principal ceased is the question which determines the question of limitation, and that the latter does not depend upon the question as to the agent's obligation to take back his salary chit and pass his accounts with the principal. The; last sentence in the salary chit on which some reliance has been placed by the respondent's advocate does not really help to decide the question as to when the agency terminated. It is to the effect that the dates of starting from India and of return to India have to be taken into account, presumably for the purpose of calculating the salary due to the agent.

5. It cannot be said that because of this sentence it was intended that even after the agent had left the place where the business of the agency was to be carried on, and had been succeeded by another person there in the business, he should still be considered as an agent carrying on business in that place. There can be no doubt that the agency was a special agency for carrying on a business on behalf of the plaintiff at a particular place for a particular period; it is not as though the defendant was employed as a general agent. He was employed for a specific purpose and that purpose became impossible of fulfilment by the defendant after he was replaced by another agent and had to leave the place where the business was to be carried on by him as agent. This fact is racial, and it clearly shows that the defendant ceased to represent his principal in respect of the agency after he handed over charge to his successor who was appointed by the principal, and left the place where the business of agency was till then being carried on by him.

6. I am therefore of opinion that the agency had terminated more than three years prior to the institution of the suit; and as it is not disputed that the present suit is governed by Article 89, Lim. Act, the suit is clearly barred by limitation. The appeal must therefore be allowed and the order of the District Judge appealed from set aside, and the decree of the Subordinate Judge restored. The appellant is entitled to have his costs in this Court and in the Court below from the plaintiff-respondent.


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