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Rani Mina Kumari Bibi Vs. Surendra NaraIn Chakravarty - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Judge
Reported in3Ind.Cas.12
AppellantRani Mina Kumari Bibi
RespondentSurendra NaraIn Chakravarty
Cases ReferredSurajmal Chunilal v. Manekchand Kapurchand
Excerpt:
right of suit - cause of action--procuring erroneous decision of court--criminal procedure code (act v of 1898), section 146--attachment by magistrate--suit for damages for non-cultivation--limitation act (xv of 1877), schedule ii, articles 29, 36, 39, 48, 49 or 109. - .....of the petitioner. the deputy magistrate thereupon instituted proceedings under section 144, criminal procedure code, in respect of about 200 bighas of land and issued a prohibitory order against the plaintiff. the plaintiff appeared before the deputy-magistrate on the 9th january 1903 and urged that as the dispute related to possession of immovable property proceedings could be commenced only under section 145, criminal procedure code. on the day following the deputy magistrate took proceedings under that section and made an order for attachment of the land. the parties subsequently referred the matter in dispute to the arbitration of a pleader who filed his award on the 22nd juno 1903, on the basis of which the deputy magistrate withdrew his previous order of attachment. under.....
Judgment:

Vincent, J.

1. The events which have given rise to the litigation out of which the present appeal arises may be thus briefly narrated. On the 15th December 1902 the second defendant put in a petition before the Deputy Magistrate of Jangipore in which it was alleged that he was a tenant of the first defendant, now appellant before this Court, that he had grown crops on his holding, and that as the plaintiff, the respondent before this Court, was about to cat away the crops, there was likelihood of a serious breach of the peace. The petitioner consequently prayed for Police help. The Deputy Magistrate thereupon ordered the Police to see that no breach of the peace took place and directed them to submit a report. On the next day the Police submitted a report in which they supported the allegations of the petitioner. The Deputy Magistrate thereupon instituted proceedings under Section 144, Criminal Procedure Code, in respect of about 200 bighas of land and issued a prohibitory order against the plaintiff. The plaintiff appeared before the Deputy-Magistrate on the 9th January 1903 and urged that as the dispute related to possession of immovable property proceedings could be commenced only under Section 145, Criminal Procedure Code. On the day following the Deputy Magistrate took proceedings under that section and made an order for attachment of the land. The parties subsequently referred the matter in dispute to the arbitration of a pleader who filed his award on the 22nd Juno 1903, on the basis of which the Deputy Magistrate withdrew his previous order of attachment. Under the award the plaintiff was put in possession of 33 bighas of land and the remainder was given to the defendant. On the 21st June 1906 the plaintiff, commenced the present action for damages on a two fold basis. He alleged, in the first place, that the defendant unlawfully cut the crops grown by, him on the 9th January 1903 that is, on the day previous to the order of the Magistrate under Section 146, Criminal Procedure Code; and in the second place, that the result of the order of attachment by the Magistrate was to make it impossible for him to cultivate the land during the year 1903, so as to entitle him to the value of the paddy which he might otherwise have grown during that year. The defendant resisted the claim on the merits. He also pleaded in bar that the whole of the claim was barred by limitation and that in any view there was no cause of action in respect of the damages claimed for non-cultivation of the land in 1903.

2. The Court of first instance did not go into evidence on the merits and dismissed the suit on the ground that it was barred by limitation and that the plaintiff had no cause of action as against the defendant. Upon appeal the Subordinate Judge has reversed that decision and remanded the case for trial on the merits.

3. The defendant has now appealed to this Court and on his behalf the decision of the Subordinate Judge has been assailed on two grounds, namely, first that the plaintiff has no cause of action against the defendant in respect of the crops which, but for the prohibitory order of the Magistrate, it might have been possible for him to grow on the land in the course of the year 1903, and secondly, that the whole of the claim is barred by limitation. In our opinion these contentions are well-founded and must prevail.

4. As regards the first point taken on behalf of the appellant, it is manifestly well-founded on principle and is supported by weighty authorities. Let it be assumed for a moment that the order of the Magistrate under Section 146, Criminal Procedure Code, was erroneous on the merits. It does not follow by any means that any responsibility can be fastened upon the first defendant in respect thereof. It is well-settled that no action will lie against any person for procuring an erroneous decision of a Court of Justice. This is so, even though the Court has no jurisdiction in the matter and although its judgment or order is for that or any other reason invalid. A Court of Justice is not the agent or servant of the litigant who sets it in motion so as to make that litigant responsible for the errors of law or fact which the Court commits. Every party is entitled to rely absolutely on the presumption that the Court will observe the limits of its own jurisdiction and decide correctly on the facts and law. In support of this statement of the law, it is sufficient to refer the leading decision in Lock v. Ashton (1848) 12 Q.B. 871 : 76 R.R. 434. In that case the defendant had wrongly though honestly arrested the plaintiff and charged him with an offence before a Magistrate who thereupon remanded him to custody. It was ruled that although the defendant was liable for the original arrest inasmuch as it was his own wrongful act, he was not responsible for the subsequent remand which was merely erroneous act of the Magistrate. To the same effect is the decision in Brown v. Chapman (1848) 6 C.B. 365 : 77 R.R. 347 where the following observation was made. If an individual prefer a complaint to a Magistrate and procures warrant to be granted upon which the accused is taken into custody, the complainant in such a case is not liable in trespass for imprisonment, and that, even though the Magistrate has no jurisdiction. The imprisonment is referred to the magistrate authority so as to exempt the complainant from all liability in trespass.' Reference may also be made in this connection to the cases of West v. Smallwood (1838) 3 M. and W. 418 : 49 R.R. 666; Carratt v. Morley (1841) 1 Q.B. 18 : 55 R.R. 183; Austin v. Dowling (1870) L.R. 5 C.P. 534 : 39 L.J.C.P 260 : 22 L.T. 721 : 18 W.R. 1003; Sewell v. National Telephone Company (1907) 1 K.B. 557 : 76 L.J.K.B. 196 : 96 L.T. : 483 23 T.L.R. 226. The substance of the matter is that the opinion and judgment of a Judicial Officer interpose between the complaint and the prohibitory order, or as was stated by Collins M.R. in the case last mentioned, 'if a person desires to obtain a judicial decision from a proper tribunal and for that purpose states the fact to a Police Officer and the latter, acting on his own initiative, arrests the person implicated, no trespass is committed by the person who gives the information to the Police Officer.' The principle, in the words of Pollock G. B. in Gunham v. Willey 4 H. and N. 496 is that 'we ought to take care that people arc not put in peril for making a complaint when a crime has been committed; if a charge is made mala fide there are ample means of redress. Substantially the same view has been frequently affirmed in the Courts of this country. The case most closely analogous to the one now before us is that of Ammani Ammal v. Sellayi Ammal 6 M. 420. There a dispute arose regarding the possession of certain land which was consequently attached by order of a Magis-trate under Section 531, Criminal Procedure Code of 1872. The land in consequence of this, order was not cultivated in the year which followed the order of attachment. The plaintiff sued for damages for the loss of profits resulting from non-cultivation. Chief Justice Turner dismissed the claim on the ground that the damages due 'to non-cultivation could not be treated as the probable result of any wrongful act of the defendant, but were rather the consequence of the judicial act proceeding from the Magistrate; and in support of this view he placed reliance upon the case of Lock v. Ashton (1848) 12 Q.B. 871 : 76 R.R. 434. The same view was taken by Sir Barnes Peacock, C. J. in Rajbullub Gope v. Issan Chander Ilujrah 7 W.R. 355 and in Joy' kalee Dassoe v. The Representative of Chandmalla 9 W.R. 133. In this latter case the learned Chief Justice pointed out that if a port son makes an application maliciously or without probable or reasonable cause to a Court of competent jurisdiction to seize the property of another person as the property of his judgment-debtor he may be liable to damages for any injury which may be occasioned by reason of the order of the Court, and upon the same principle a person may be liable to damages for applying for an injunction upon a ground which he knows to be insufficient. But this doctrine has no application where a person is not acting maliciously or without probable cause. The same view has been taken in the other Indian High Courts. See for instance the cases of Narosivga How v. Muthaya Pillai 26 M. 362 and Dudhnoth Kandu v. Mathura Prasad 24 A. 317. The principle aplicable to cases of this discription was recently explained by their Lordships of the Judicial Committee in the case of Pandit Gaya Prasad Tewari v. Sardar Bhagat Singh 30 A. 525 : 12 C.W.N. 739. I that case it was pointed out that there was no principle of universal application that if the Police or the Magistrate acted on information given by a private individual without a formal complaint or application for process, the Crown and not the individual became the prosecutor. The mere setting of the law in motion is not the criterion; the conduct of the complainant before and after making the charge must also be taken into consideration. This view is identical with that previously taken by this Court in the cases of Bhul Chand Patro v. Palun Bas 12 C.W.N. 818 (Note) and Hari Charan Sant v. Kuilash Chandra Bhuyan 12 C.W.N. 817.

5. Now if the claim of the plaintiff is tested in the light of these principles, it becomes manifest that it is absolutely unsustainable. The defendant informed the Magistrate that there was a possibility of a breach of the peace. It is not suggested that this information was untrue in fact. The Police reported that there was a likelihood of a breach of the peace , and.! recommended proceedings under Section 107? Criminal Procedure Code. The Magistrate commenced proceedings under Section 144. The plaintiff thereupon appeared and con tended that proceedings ought to have been taken under Section 145 Criminal Procedure Code. In one sense, therefore, It was upon the invitation of the plaintiff him-Self the Magistrate commenced proceeding under that section. It is difficult to conceive how under these circumstances plaintiff can have any cause of action against the defendant in so far as the Plaintiff might have suffered any damage by reason of his inability to cultivate the land attached by the order of the Magistrate. We are clearly of opinion, therefore, that the first objection taken on behalf of the appellant must prevail.

6. The second objection taken on behalf of the appellant raises the question, whether the claim is barred by limitation. Here it Will be observed that the claim is divisible into two parts. In so far as the crops cut by the defendant on the 9th January 1903 are concerned even if it be assumed that they were crops grown by the plaintiff as alleged by him, it is clear that the cause of action arose on the day they were appropriated by the defendant. It is immaterial whether Article 36 39 or 109 is held to be applicable, because the present action was commenced more than three years after the date on which the crops were cut. The decision of the Full Bench in Mungun Jha v. Dolhin Golab Koer 25 C. 692 : 2 C.W.N. 265 tends to show that the case is governed by either Article 48 or 49. But whichever of these; two articles is held to be applicable, the claim is barred by limitation. In so far as the claim for damages for non-cultivation of the land in 1903, is concerned, it appears to be equally barred by limitation. It is fairly clear that whether Article 29 applies as indicated in the case of Ram Narain v. Umrao Singh 29 A. 615 or Article 36 as suggested in Surajmal Chunilal v. Manekchand Kapurchand 6 Bom. L.R. 704 the claim is barred by limitation. The learned vakil for the respondent suggested that Article 42 applies. It is difficult, however, to see how an order under Section 146, Criminal Procedure Code, can legitimately be treated as an injunction within the meaning of that article. It is needless, however, to pursue the examination of this question further, because as we have already held, the plaintiff has no cause of action in so far as the second branch of his claim is concerned.

7. The result, therefore, is that this appeal must be allowed, the judgment and order of the Subordinate Judge set aside and the decree of the Court of first instance restored 'with costs in all the Courts.

8. We assess the hearing fee at 3 gold mohurs.


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