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Probhabati Ray Vs. Gourisankar Ray - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1937Cal219
AppellantProbhabati Ray
RespondentGourisankar Ray
Excerpt:
- .....by letter to the assistant registrar. in the same way the attorneys may bring objections in the matter of costs to my notice by letter to the assistant registrar. i have mentioned that there appeared to have been some misunderstanding between the client and her solicitors which were cleared up. it was suggested that this lady had wished to obtain the corpus of the property set aside for her son and for her daughters, and what was hanging up the whole affair was that she would have to give security. this lady informed me that she had no intention of asking for the corpus and never had. she was quite content that it should remain with the administrator-general. it may be that this lady changed her mind. it may be that there was some misunderstanding between her and her solicitors. be.....
Judgment:

Ameer Ali, J.

1. In this matter I am going to give directions to the Administrator-General. Normally of course such a matter is dealt with in Chambers, and as it involves no point of law there would be no question of publicity. In this case I have asked the Reporter to be present; I am not asking that the matter should be reported. I shall simply state the facts. I think it right to state the reasons for this unusual course. I have been on this Bench nearly half my time. I have dealt exclusively with the interlocutory list or the C list; in other words, with what may be called indigenous or social litigation with which at the Bar I had nothing at all to do. Since I have taken this list dealing with infant matters, trust matters, administration suits and partition suits I have realized what an amount of suffering our system is responsible for. I have not been able to do anything to assist and I do not expect that during the rest of my time I shall be able to do anything to assist. Results are not always apparent. They are sometimes forced on one's notice. I have made up my mind that when such cases occur simply to state the facts. It is a matter for the public. If they take some interest in bettering the legal system under which in my opinion it suffers, we shall not get a better.

2. One such case, occurred the day before yesterday. A lady came-one Probhabati Dassi-and she had the effrontery to complain that although her husband died 16 months ago, and although there had been a consent decree passed some nine months ago, and although according to her sums amounting to Rs. 3,000 or Rs. 4,000 had been paid out of the estate on account of costs, she and her five children were starving. She has nothing left, and she sold her ornaments. That is not a matter for me. I should have told her to go to her solicitors. I might have sent her to the Registrar who is already overworked. I was unwise enough to listen to her. The attorneys were good enough to show the consent decree and a letter to the lady from the Administrator-General dated 18th July 1936. So far as I could gather the position is as follows: It was simply an application for letters of administration by this widow who has in her charge five minor children-a son and four daughters. The deceased also left a son by another wife who is a major. The widow applied for letters of administration, and the adult son filed a caveat. The party were fortunate enough to brief counsel, Mr. Chatterji and Mr. Section 0. Bose, and with their assistance a very reasonable arrangement was arrived at without contest, namely, that the widow should get the income of Rs. 5,000 during her life, that Rs, 8,000 should be set aside for the daughters' marriages, the widow to draw the income of that amount until the marriage of the daughters, that half the residue should go to each son, and the widow to draw from the income of the share given to her son, Rs. 25 a month. There was also provision for the costs of the estate. The estate was to be held by the Administrator General. That was passed either last year or in the beginning of this year, and as I have said the widow had nothing for herself and her family. The letter of the Administrator-General dated 18th July 1936, I think, must have been written on information given by the lady's solicitors. It shows that there are still 'adjustments' to be made against anything that, has in future to be paid to the widow.

3. Now as to costs: as far as I could gather the position is as follows: The first attorney I will call X not because I make any suggestion against the attorney in this case, but because they may consider that I have without their assent given them undue publicity in this matter. The first solicitor of the lady has apparently got Rs. 2,700 party and party costs and Rs. 400 as costs between attorney and client. This means Rs. 3,100. Out of this the Administrator-General has paid to the attorney a sum of Rs. 1,079 leaving due to the attorney Rs. 2,021. The attorney had either lent money to his client on a promissory note or, as he suggests, had borrowed it on her behalf from another client. Rs. 1,500 was the amount of the promissory note. There was a small commission of Rs. 35. Rs. 300 was advanced to the client leaving a sum of Rs. 1,165 to be taken by the solicitor on account of costs. Now deducting that sum there remains due to the first solicitor Rs. 856. On this promissory note there was a suit against the lady Probhabati, and this suit was settled by the Administrator-General for Rs. 1,900. This sum has been paid by the Administrator. General. I am not clear from what the solicitor stated whether it was paid to his present client or to himself, but in any event it appears not only that the lady owes Rs. 1,156 to her first attorney but that she is liable for another Rs. 735 on account of the settlement of this suit. On my calculations therefore she had to pay for costs Rs. 1,079, Rs. 1,165, Rs. 856 and Rs. 735, less Rs. 300, making in all Rs. 3,500 to her first solicitor. Yesterday I understood from the second solicitor whom I will call Y that there would be a sum something like Rs. 1,000 due from his client, but I have been informed today that a letter has been written to the Administrator. General giving a far higher figure and requesting the Administrator-General to hold the estate until payment of his costs. These costs have not been taxed.

4. Now, the facts I have stated sufficiently show the absurdity of this lady's suggestion that she should receive any money of any kind, and if the 'adjustments' have to be made neither she nor her children will receive a penny for at least another two years. I have already said that I make no suggestion against anybody in this case concerned in the working of the system. Counsel have done their best; the Taxing Officer who taxed the bills has done his best. I will assume that the attorneys were acting in the interests of their client. The fact remains that this woman with five minor children is starving, and sums amounting to several thousands of rupees have been spent in giving her what in my opinion could have been given to her long ago and at a portion of the cost. The Administrator-General is not to blame. He has to do his work but there is the result, and I should have thought that it must be apparent to anybody who considers it dispassionately that something is wrong. This lady thinks so; I think so; and I think anybody with any sense of decency will think so. With regard to possible change, that is not a matter for me. I realise the difficulties. There are vested interests from the revenues of the country down to the smallest law tout against change But I believe that unless changed, the system will be destroyed, and it will deserve to be destroyed. With regard to the directions I propose to give, they areas follows: Mr. Chatterji having consented I am able to give this direction which shall be carried out at once on receipt of a minute of this order signed by me without any further orders: (1) The Administrator-General will pay out of the estate to this lady immediately Rs. 500. (2) The Administrator-General will pay the income of the portion allotted to her under the consent decree as it comes to hand without deduction until further orders, and arrangement must be made to pay to her should she go to the moffussil: (3) With regard to adjustments, there will be no adjustments in respect of her deceased husband's gun. Mr. Chatterji has kindly consented to raise no objection. There will be no adjustment without further direction in respect of the claim on the promissory note. There will be no adjustment on account of X's costs without further directions. There will be no adjustment with regard to Y's costs without further directions.

5. These directions are given in the absence of the Administrator-General, and any objection that he may have he may make by letter to the Assistant Registrar. In the same way the attorneys may bring objections in the matter of costs to my notice by letter to the Assistant Registrar. I have mentioned that there appeared to have been some misunderstanding between the client and her solicitors which were cleared up. It was suggested that this lady had wished to obtain the corpus of the property set aside for her son and for her daughters, and what was hanging up the whole affair was that she would have to give security. This lady informed me that she had no intention of asking for the corpus and never had. She was quite content that it should remain with the Administrator-General. It may be that this lady changed her mind. It may be that there was some misunderstanding between her and her solicitors. Be that as it may, the estate will remain in the hands of the Administrator-General and there is no need for security or anything else. Secondly, I was informed that this lady desired to lay claim to the amount of the provident fund which was part of the assets, which claim is inconsistent with the settlement which was made. On my asking this lady she appeared to entertain no such intention. Again it may be that the lady has changed her mind. On the other hand, it is possible that the solicitor misunderstood her wishes. However she gave an undertaking to make no such claim which was recorded, and the assistance I have received from the counsel for the eldest son is upon this basis. The Administrator General will collect the amount of the provident fund and deal with it under the terms of the consent decree. Mr. Chatterji has been through the figures since the day before yesterday, and I understood that the figures given by me are not accurate. The matter of principle is unaffected. I understand that Provabati's first attorney X has consented to settle the whole balance of his claim for costs for a payment of Rs. 250 out of the estate. If this offer is made to the Administrator General he may accept it and pay this sum.


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