1. This case arises out of a suit for damages for short delivery against a Railway Company. Section 77 of the Railways Act IX of 1890, provides that no such claim shall be allowed unless the claim has been preferred in writing to the Railway administration within 6 months from the date of the delivery of the goods, etc. In the present case such a claim seems to have been made within the time limited but the letter containing the notice was not registered. Section 150 of the Act provides that a notice or document required or authorised by the Act may be served in one of three ways: (a) by delivering the notice or other document to the manager or agent, (b) by leaving it at his office or (c) by forwarding it by post in a prepaid letter addressed to the manager or agent at his office and registered under Part III of the Indian Post Office Act, 1866.
2. The first clause seems to contemplate a delivery by the claimant in person or through his agent or servant. We do not think a delivery of a letter by post through the postal peon which has been presumed to have taken place in this case would be a delivery within this clause: Clause (b) does not apply and Clause (c) also does not apply as the letter was not registered. So that there has been no compliance with Section 140. It is contended that the words may be served' imply that other modes of service are not excluded and this seems to be the construction placed upon the words in the case of Periaunan Chetti v. S.I. Ry. Company 22 M. 137 and by Mr. Justice Tyabji in the case of the E.I. Ry. Company v. Jethmull 26 B. 669 : 4 Bom. L.R. 495. Mr. Justice Tyabji was overruled on appeal and the Madras case has been expressly dissented from in this Court; see Nadiar Chand Shaha v. Wood 35 C. 194 : 12 C.W.N. 450, in which it was held that the word may ' means must ' and the requirement of the law must be strictly followed to make the service effectual. The Legislature has imposed various duties and obligation upon Railway Companies for the protection of the public but at the same time it has provided for safeguards against unlimited litigation. There is, no doubt, hardship in cases like the present but the plaintiffs have brought it on themselves by not complying with the requirements of law. We make the rule absolute but without any costs.