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Basanta Kumar Chowdhury Vs. Madan Mohun Chowdhury - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1919Cal765,46Ind.Cas.282
AppellantBasanta Kumar Chowdhury
RespondentMadan Mohun Chowdhury
Cases ReferredHulse v. Hulse
Excerpt:
contract act (ix of 1872), section 25 - agreement to pay annuity for future services, whether enforceable--part of agreement void, effect of. - .....by you in future' point not only to the past services of the plaintiff but also to the possible future services to be rendered by him, so the words that immediately follow 'in consideration of those benefits' refer to the possible future benefits as well as to the benefits already received.5. now as regards the past services, there is no dispute that under section 25 of the indian contract act the agreement, as far as it consists of a promise to reward the plaintiff for the past services, is enforceable in spite of the fact that there is no consideration for the promise: sindha shri ganpatsinghji v. abraham 20 b. 755 at p. 758 : 10 ind. dec. (n.s.) 1074.6. so far, however, as the agreement consists of a promise to reward the plaintiff for possible future services it stands on a.....
Judgment:

Richardson, J.

1. This appeal is preferred by the plaintiff from the judgment and decree of the District Judge of Dinajpur, dated the 6th April 1915. The appeal turns on the terms of a document described as an ekrarnama or brithinama, under which the plaintiff claims that he is entitled to receive an annual payment of Rs. 150 from the defendant. It appears that the plaintiff and the defendant are uterine brothers. The defendant was adopted by the plaintiff's uncle. The uncle died in the year 1291 (1884), leaving his property by Will to the defendant who was at the time a minor, The defendant came of age in 1890; and if; may be accepted, as the Courts below have found, that the plaintiff managed the defendant's estate from the year 1890 to the year 1898. It is not found that the plaintiff in so doing acted at the request of the defendant. Apparently the defendant was living with his natural family and the plaintiff as kartha managed the defendant's property along with other property belonging to the family. In 1898 the defendant took the management of his estate into his own hands and the agreement on which the suit is based was executed in March of that year. The plaintiff asserts that since then he has received the allowance regularly up to the close of the year 1315. There is, however, some controversy as to that, and neither Court has recorded an express finding upon the point. Both Courts, on the other hand, have found that the agreement was not induced by any undue influence or pressure on the part of the plaintiff. The suit is to recover the amount said to be payable for the years 1316 to 1319. The first Court decided in favour of the plaintiff, while the learned District Judge in the lower Appellate Court has taken a different view and dismissed the suit.

2. The document in question is addressed by defendant to the plaintiff and begins with the following recital: That you are my full brother and elder to me: then my father having given me in adoption to the late Umakanta Chowdhury, I, as his adopted son, have become the owner by inheritance of all the properties left by the late Umakanta Chowdhury and I am in possession thereof. After the death of the said Umakanta Chowdhury and during my minority you have looked after me and my estate and by proper management thereof you have increased the income of my properties and have improved them and at the present time also you have been doing acts beneficial to my interest.' Then follows an important sentence: 'I have been very much benefited by the works done by you and there is possibility of more good being done by you in future.' The document continues: In consideration of those benefits I, actuated by my own sense of duty, promise to grant you for your enjoyment a lifelong annuity of Rs. 150, etc.' The defendant further promised that should he die during the plaintiff's lifetime, then his heirs or legal representatives would continue to give the plaintiff the aforesaid annuity in the same manner, The rest of the document need not be referred to.

3. The District Judge has held, in his own words: That the expectation of benefits to come was a substantial part of the consideration and that it was not the intention of the executant that a person in whose favour the deed was executed should continue to draw the allowance even after he had ceased, for any reason, to manage the estate.' That view appears to be founded on a construction of the document which cannot perhaps be supported in its entirety. The document must be construed as it stands and an intention not expressed cannot be imported into it. However that may be, I agree with the conclusion at which the District Judge has arrived.

4. The words 'I have been very much benefited by the works done by you and there is possibility of more good being done by you in future' point not only to the past services of the plaintiff but also to the possible future services to be rendered by him, so the words that immediately follow 'in consideration of those benefits' refer to the possible future benefits as well as to the benefits already received.

5. Now as regards the past services, there is no dispute that under Section 25 of the Indian Contract Act the agreement, as far as it consists of a promise to reward the plaintiff for the past services, is enforceable in spite of the fact that there is no consideration for the promise: Sindha Shri Ganpatsinghji v. Abraham 20 B. 755 at p. 758 : 10 Ind. Dec. (N.S.) 1074.

6. So far, however, as the agreement consists of a promise to reward the plaintiff for possible future services it stands on a different footing. There is no provision by which the defendant could compel the plaintiff to perform any further services for him. The plaintiff made no promise. In the case of Hulse v. Hulse (1856) 17 C.B. 711 : 25 L.J.C.P. 177 : 4, W.R. 239 : 139 E.R. 1256 : 26 L.T. (O.S.) 220 : 104 R.R. 852 Jervis, C.J., delivering the judgment of the Court observed: In order to make the future services a good consideration for the giving of the note, we think it was incumbent on the plaintiff to show that there was some contract for future services which might have been enforced by the giver of the note, if the recipient omitted to perform it.' If that principle be applied to the agreement before us, then so far as it relates to the future services, it is an agreement without consideration and such an agreement relating to future services is not excepted from the general rule laid down in Section 25 that agreements without consideration are void.

7. The result is that the agreement is enforceable only in part, as to the rest it is void and unenforceable. But the agreement is one and indivisible. The promised reward cannot be apportioned between the past and the future. It would seem to follow that the agreement as a whole is void.

8. In my opinion, therefore, the decree of the District Judge must be affirmed and this appeal dismissed with costs.

Beachcroft, J.

9. I agree.


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