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Narmada Chandra Banerjee Vs. Maharaj Bahadur Singh Dugar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1937Cal359
AppellantNarmada Chandra Banerjee
RespondentMaharaj Bahadur Singh Dugar
Cases ReferredKshetra Nath v. Kalidasi Dasi
Excerpt:
- .....cannot be in law a suit for accounts unless the defendant in the suit is under an obligation to render accounts to the plaintiff: 'every bill for an account must be founded upon an obligation to render an account'. (langdale's survey of equity jurisdiction, p. 74.) under section 213, contract act, the obligation is upon the agent to render accounts to the principal. the principal owes no obligation to render accounts to the agent. hence an agent, such as the plaintiff is cannot maintain a suit for accounts against the principal as defendant. the mere fact that in ascertaining the sum due to the plaintiff, it would be necessary to investigate accounts, does not in any way alter the nature of the suit: kshetra nath v. kalidasi dasi air 1918 cal 1037. no preliminary decree could have.....
Judgment:

B.K. Mukherjea, J.

1. This appeal is on behalf of the plaintiff who is a pleader practising in the District Court at Dinajpur and arises out of a suit commenced by him to recover from the defendant, who was his client, a sum of Rs. 2,000 only under the following circumstances: The plaintiff was the defendant's constituted pleader in respect of all legal work connected with Dandpur Katchery and worked as such from 1903 up to about April 1929, when he was removed and another pleader was appointed in his place. He used to receive payments from time to time from the officers of the defendant. He had also with him the moneys realized through Court on behalf of his client, and he used to credit all these sums to his client in his account books. He charged fees for his professional work at certain rates which were sanctioned by his client since the commencement of his service and the remuneration of himself and his clerk and all expenses of litigation were duly debited against the defendant. The accounts were adjusted from time to time, the defendant paying whatever sums were found due to the plaintiff after taking accounts. The last adjustment was made according to the plaintiff for the period 3rd August 1925 to 27th August 1926 and on 6th September 1926 a fresh account was opened. Between 6th September 1926 and 25th February 1929 there were three bills submitted by the plaintiff and the amount due on the same after crediting the defendant with all receipts was Rs. 2,086 odd. The plaintiff says that this sum the defendant did not pay in spite of repeated demands and hence he was obliged to bring this suit. He has abandoned a small portion of the claim and the suit is valued at Rs. 2,000 only. The defence was that the suit was not maintainable unless the plaintiff rendered accounts for the whole period of his service, that the plaintiff had not rendered any accounts, that the accounts submitted by him contained many untenable items and that the claim was excessive.

2. The trial Court negatived all the pleas and gave the plaintiff a decree. There was an appeal by the defendant to the lower appellate Court and the Court of appeal below has set aside the trial Court's decree and dismissed the plaintiff's suit. The learned Judge has not really entered into the merits of the case, but has thrown out the suit on the preliminary point of law. The first ground is that the plaintiff has misconceived his remedy which lay not in filing a money suit but in bringing a proper suit for accounts in which a preliminary decree could be passed. The second ground upon which the Subordinate Judge has based his decision is that the fees claimed by the plaintiff could not be recovered on the case made in the plaint, inasmuch as it was based on an agreement of the year 1903 which was hit by Section 28, Legal Practitioners' Act, which required that such agreement should be filed in the Court. Both the grounds have been challenged by Mr. Sanyal who has appeared for the appellant in this appeal. As regards the first point it is difficult to appreciate the reasoning of the Subordinate Judge. His view seems to be that the only suit which the plaintiff could and should have brought was a suit for accounts in which a preliminary decree could have been passed by the Court. As there were no settled accounts no suit for recovery of a specified sum of money is maintainable in law. This view is certainly wrong. There cannot be in law a suit for accounts unless the defendant in the suit is under an obligation to render accounts to the plaintiff: 'Every bill for an account must be founded upon an obligation to render an account'. (Langdale's Survey of Equity Jurisdiction, p. 74.) Under Section 213, Contract Act, the obligation is upon the agent to render accounts to the principal. The principal owes no obligation to render accounts to the agent. Hence an agent, such as the plaintiff is cannot maintain a suit for accounts against the principal as defendant. The mere fact that in ascertaining the sum due to the plaintiff, it would be necessary to investigate accounts, does not in any way alter the nature of the suit: Kshetra Nath v. Kalidasi Dasi AIR 1918 Cal 1037. No preliminary decree could have been passed against the defendant in the suit directing him to render accounts and it is absurd that a decree could have been made against the plaintiff asking him to account to the defendant. The Subordinate Judge, in our opinion, has clearly misappreciated the law and his decision on this point cannot stand.

3. The second ground upon which the Court of appeal below based its decision, seems to us to be equally untenable. The plaintiff did not found his claim upon any agreement between pleader and client arrived at prior to 1926 which would bring the case within the mischief of Section 28, Legal Practitioners' Act. All that was said in the plaint is that the appointment of the plaintiff dated from the year 1903 and since that date his fees were allowed at a certain scale which was settled between him and the defendant's officer. It is true that the words 'quantum meruit' do not appear in the plaint but in substance the plaintiff has claimed reasonable remuneration for work done, the fees being charged at the scale fixed by the Circular Orders of this Court. The Subordinate Judge nowhere says that the fees charged were excessive having regard to the nature of the work done and we have no hesitation in holding that there was no justification for dismissing the suit altogether.

4. Dr. Sen Gupta who appears for the respondent has pressed another point in support of the decision. He says that the plaintiff was not competent to institute this suit after having refused to render accounts to the defendant and he has drawn our attention to certain passages in the judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge where he has discussed the evidence on the point. It appears that the bills were submitted by the plaintiff sometime in February 1929. There was correspondence between the plaintiff and the officers of the defendant and the latter wrote to the plaintiff to say that his dues would be paid after examination of accounts which would be brought down from Daudpur. Nothing however, was done, and the plaintiff seems to have made a representation to the President of the Bar Association and there was actually a resolution passed by the Association to the effect that no pleader would work for the defendant unless the plaintiff's dues were paid. Then there were negotiations started again for amicable settlement and it is said that the plaintiff took away the account books, when the defendant's officer wanted to copy out certain items from them at the house of the President of the Bar Association where they were taken by the plaintiff for purposes of inspection. Ultimately nothing came about and we are unable to hold on the facts found that the plaintiff definitely refused to render accounts or that would disentitle him to any relief in this suit. The result is that the appeal is allowed. The judgment and decree of the lower appellate Court is set aside and the case remanded to that Court with direction to hear the appeal and decide the case on its merits. Costs will abide the result. It has been represented to us that an account suit has been instituted by the defendant against the plaintiff and that is now pending in appeal before the District Judge of Dinajpur. It would be open to the parties to apply to the lower appellate Court to have these two appeals heard together, if they so like.

M.C. Ghose, J.

5. I agree.


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