Skip to content


(Chairman Of) Municipal Council Vs. Vatteni Kesava Menon and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Subject Service
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1925Mad943
Appellant(Chairman Of) Municipal Council
RespondentVatteni Kesava Menon and anr.
Excerpt:
- .....of the society for promoting the education of women. the 2nd defendant is the chairman of the municipal council of calicut. the plaintiff's case is that he was appointed as the permanent 1st assistant master of the girls school at calicut on a salary of 50 and was given an allowance of rs. 10 so long as he acted for the head mistress, he was dismissed from the service without proper notice and he is, therefore, entitled to be paid damages. the 1st defendant disclaims all connection with the society and the 2nd defendant pleads that the plaintiff has no claim against the municipal council as he was not taken into its service. the district munsif dismissed the plaintiff's suit but gave a decree for eleven days' salary which the 2nd defendant admitted he was entitled to. on appeal the.....
Judgment:

Devadoss, J.

1. This is one of those unfortunate cases which ought not to have been brought into Court. The plaintiff sues for damages for wrongful dismissal without proper notice. The 1st defendant was the Chairman of the Society for promoting the education of women. The 2nd defendant is the Chairman of the Municipal Council of Calicut. The plaintiff's case is that he was appointed as the permanent 1st assistant master of the girls school at Calicut on a salary of 50 and was given an allowance of Rs. 10 so long as he acted for the head mistress, he was dismissed from the service without proper notice and he is, therefore, entitled to be paid damages. The 1st defendant disclaims all connection with the Society and the 2nd defendant pleads that the plaintiff has no claim against the Municipal Council as he was not taken into its service. The District Munsif dismissed the plaintiff's suit but gave a decree for eleven days' salary which the 2nd defendant admitted he was entitled to. On appeal the District Judge allowed the appeal and passed a decree in plaintiff's favour for Rs. 640 at the rate of Rs. 50 per month plus Rs. 40 for four months during which period there was no head mistress. On behalf of the appellant it was urged that the Municipal Council of Calicut never took over the contract that was entered into between the plaintiff and the Society for the promotion of women. In 1916, the girls school seems to have been in a bad state and the Educational Authorities insisted upon a proper head mistress being appointed. After some correspondence with the Director, the management of the school was allowed to appoint the plaintiff as the 1st assistant master and make him act for the head mistress. Evidently according to the opinion of the Educational Authorities, the girls school ought to have a head mistress and not a head master. The correspondence, Exhibits B, C, E, B, F, and G shows that the plaintiff was appointed as the permanent 1st assistant of the girls' school and was promised an acting allowance of Rs. 10 per mensem so long as a head mistress was not available. In the end of 1918, for reasons which are not quite clear, the Society wanted to hand over the management to the Municipal Council of Calicut and the Municipal Council with the permission of the Government took over the management of the school from 1st April, 1919. Before taking over the management it gave an intimation to the staff of the school that the services of the staff would not be retained after the closing of the school for midsummer. Exhibit I is the letter written by Mr. Madhavan Nair to the plaintiff in which he told the plaintiff that the Society will not require his services from the date of the handing over of the management of the school to the Municipal Council and he added that be was not in a position to say whether his services would be retained by the Municipal Council. This was in December, 1918. On the 21st of January 1918 the plaintiff wrote to the Chairman of the Municipal Council a long letter in which be told him of the expediency of continuing the services of the staff till about the middle of April as it was necessary in the interests of the school and suggested that his services may be retained by the Municipal Council at least as the 1st assistant of the school. He gave several reasons; among others be stated that there was no reason why the retention of a single old male teacher of proved merit and capacity whose appointment has already been sanctioned by the Director himself should not be continued. On this the Chairman of the Municipal Council endorsed: The head master and all the teachers will be allowed to continue till the closing of the school. The Inspector's proposal for the re-organization of the staff is awaited.' The question is whether in the face of this correspondence it can be said that the Municipal Council took over the contracts subsisting between the Society and the various members of the staff. The contention of Mr. K.P.M. Menon, on behalf of the plaintiff-respondent, is that the Municipal Council took over the assets and liabilities of the Society in respeot of the school and, therefore, it must be considered that the contract of the plaintiff with the Society was transferred to the Municipal Council. Unless there be some evidence to that effect it is not right to presume that the contract entered into by any one with a particular Society was transferred to another institution or body which took over the management of the concern conducted by the: former. The mere fact that the management of the school was taken over would not necessarily imply that all the liabilities and outstandings and contracts of the Society were taken over. Evidently there has been a confusion of ideas in this matter. The contract was not with the school, for the school as such had no existence because it was not a registered body; but the contract was with the Society, and so long as that Society did not assign that contract to the Municipal Council the plaintiff cannot hold the Municipal Council responsible on the contract which he entered into with the Society, that is, the Society for the Promotion of Education of Women. I, therefore, hold that the contention of the appellant that the Municipal Council did not take over the contract of the plaintiff is sound.

2. Mr. Menon's next contention is that the Municipal Council continued the services of the plaintiff after it took over the management and it did not afterwards give notice to the plaintiff and that, therefore, he is entitled to a reasonable notice, and in the absence of a reasonable notice to damages. But this argument overlooks the fact that the Municipal Council distinctly told the staff and the headmaster that they would be continued only till the closing of the school for the midsummer holidays. No doubt if the Municipal Council had engaged the service of the plaintiff by a further contract, whether it be in continuance of the old contract or a new contract, the plaintiff would be entitled to a reasonable notice. But it is quite clear from the evidence that the head-master and the staff continued to work in the school on the distinct understanding that their services were to cease when the school closed for midsummer holidays. This is clear from the endorsement on Exhibit X. The plaintiff, no doubt, wanted to continue for some time longer and the 2nd defendant by an endorsement s dated 23rd April 1919, Exhibit W authorized him to appoint a peon to be the night-watchman. But this would not constitute the appointment of the plaintiff as the 1st assistant or headmaster of the school. Evidently the plaintiff was willing to do something for the school and the Chairman authorized him to appoint a peon as night-watchman. In the absence of the definite appointment of the plaintiff as the headmaster or as the 1st assistant, the plaintiff cannot be held to be a servant of the Municipal Council. If he was a servant of the Municipal Council certainly he would be entitled to a reasonable notice, and the Municipal Council through its Chairman could not terminate the services of a man in the position of the plaintiff by a few days' notice. It is unnecessary! in the view I have taken, to consider whether Exhibits I and III are proper notices or not. As regards Exhibit I it is sufficient to say that it was not by a person who could properly represent the Society. As regards Exhibit III the Municipal Council had not taken over the management at the time and it could not give notice to a person who was not a servant of the Municipal Council.

3. If it is necessary to consider whether the damages awarded ate reasonable or not, I think I would not differ from the learned District Judge on that point. He, as a Judge of fact, thought that Rs. 640; was the proper amount of damages to be paid to the plaintiff in the circumstances of the case. If it is a Jury case, the Jury would be entitled to assess the damages but the District Judge, as a Judge of fact, has come to the conclusion that Rs. 640 would be the reasonable amount and I am not prepared to differ from him.

4. As the appellant has succeeded, I allow the appeal, but considering the conduct of the 2nd defendant in the case I do not think he is entitled to costs. As regards the 1st defendant his position was not clearly defined; and the plaintiff, I think, was well-advised in trying to get the damages if possible from the Society which was represented in the suit by the 1st defendant. I, therefore, disallow his costs throughout.

5. In the result I set aside the decree of the District Judge and award the plaintiff one month's salary Rs. 60 in modification of the District Munsif's decree.

6. Each party will bear his own costs throughout.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //