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Sachindra Nath Chatterjee Vs. Bengal Nagpur Railway Co. Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1942Cal444
AppellantSachindra Nath Chatterjee
RespondentBengal Nagpur Railway Co. Ltd.
Excerpt:
- .....to have been engaged as a junior to these gentlemen. the order for the transfer of the case from cuttack to balasore was made by the high court at patna upon an application filed on behalf of the defendant company. it is not disputed that the plaintiff did some work in connexion with this transfer application. it is in evidence that he came down to calcutta where he had a conference with the officers of the defendant company at their offices. thereafter he proceeded to patna and instructed learned counsel who actually moved the application. this seems to have been the only substantial piece of work which the plaintiff did in connexion with his employment. it is true that on one or two occasions he travelled backwards and forwards between calcutta, cuttack and balasore. but these.....
Judgment:

Khundkar, J.

1. This appeal arises out of a suit instituted by an advocate for his fees. The learned advocate was engaged by the defendant company to watch their interests in connection with the prosecution of a criminal case which was first instituted in the Court at Cuttack. This criminal prosecution arose out of an accident which took place at a level-crossing of defendant's railway, and in which a railway-train and a motor bus were involved. The Crown decided to prosecute the driver of the motor bus. The accident in question occurred on 9th November 1924. Although the prosecution was conducted on behalf of the Crown, the defendant Railway Company were anxious that their interests should be watched by their own lawyers during the continuance of the case. For this purpose they accordingly engaged the services of the Public Prosecutor and the Government Pleader of Howrah, Although the case was instituted at Cuttack, it was transferred to a Court at Balasore before any evidence had been recorded. After the order for transfer was obtained, the defendant company engaged the services of Mr. Bose the Public Prosecutor of Balasore to hold a second watching brief in addition to that already held by the Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor of Howrah. The plaintiff would appear to have been engaged as a junior to these gentlemen. The order for the transfer of the case from Cuttack to Balasore was made by the High Court at Patna upon an application filed on behalf of the defendant company. It is not disputed that the plaintiff did some work in connexion with this transfer application. It is in evidence that he came down to Calcutta where he had a conference with the officers of the defendant company at their offices. Thereafter he proceeded to Patna and instructed learned Counsel who actually moved the application. This seems to have been the only substantial piece of work which the plaintiff did in connexion with his employment. It is true that on one or two occasions he travelled backwards and forwards between Calcutta, Cuttack and Balasore. But these journeys seem to have been undertaken only in connexion with certain so-called conferences or interviews which the plaintiff had with officers and the Solicitors of the defendant company, at their offices in Calcutta.

2. Regarding the question of his fees, the plaintiff had an interview with the deputy manager of the defendant company Mr. Duncan at a very early stage of his employment. The evidence is that nothing was settled between the plaintiff and Mr. Duncan with regard to the amount to which the plaintiff would be entitled as his fees. It is in evidence that Mr. Duncan left it to the plaintiff to submit a bill upon the conclusion of his employment, and made it dear that only such charges would be paid as the company considered reasonable. The case was taken up in the Court at Balasore on 3rd May 1925 and was heard continuously until 9th May 1925. It was again taken up on 25th May and heard until the 28th. After that there were hearings each day between 15th and 27th June. On 29th July the defendant company sent a telegram to the plaintiff asking him to submit his bill in respect of the days on which the case had been so far heard. It would seem that at this stage the defendant company contemplated dispensing with the services of the plaintiff. There is evidence to show that the plaintiff ignored the defendant company's request for the payment of his bill and managed to have his employment continued. The case was taken up and heard again on 26th August, and again from 5th September until 9th September. The judgment was delivered on 15th September. After the conclusion of the trial, the plaintiff submitted three bills; one was for fees, another was for out-of-pocket expenses, and the third was for halting allowances during journies which took the plaintiff away from Cuttack. The plaintiff charged fees at the rate of Rs. 200 a day, for days upon which the case was actually taken up in Court, Rs. 100 a day for days upon which the case was not being heard, and under the heading of 'halting allowances' charges were made upon an extremely extravagant scale. The defendant company considered these bills to be exorbitant and cut them down disallowing the halting charges in their totality, and allowing the plaintiff fees at the rate of Rs. 50 a day for working days and Rs. 25 a day for non-working days.

3. The suit was instituted on 17th June 1933. It. is contended on behalf of the plaintiff that as the contract was an oral contract, the case was not covered by Article 115 or Article 116, Limitation Act, but by Article 120. Alternatively, it is contended that that Article applies in any case because the plaintiff was suing also on a quantum meruit. Upon the question of contract the evidence which relates to the meeting between the plaintiff and Mr. Duncan at which the subject of fees was discussed, shows that no contract had been entered into between the plaintiff and Mr. Dunoan acting on behalf of the defendant company. For the reasons given by the learned Subordinate Judge, reasons with which we entirely agree, we are satisfied that the matter comes under Article 56, Limitation Act, and that the plaintiff's suit was hopelessly time-barred. The merits of the case, however, have been argued before us, and we have examined with care the relevant evidence for ourselves. The plaintiff's standing at the Bar was not such as to entitle him in any view of the case, to the fees which he claimed, and in all the facts and circumstances of the case we are satisfied that the sums of Rs. 50 and Rs. 25 a day allowed to him by the defendant company, were more than ample. We are also satisfied that the halting allowances were rightly disallowed. The plaintiff was paid by the defendant company altogether a sum of rupees 3566-1-6, for his services in connection with the case, and, in our judgment, regard being had to the plaintiff's position at the Bar, this was a most liberal payment. The appeal must, accordingly, be dismissed. We allow a consolidated sum of Rs. 150 (one hundred and fifty) to the defendant company as total costs of this appeal.

R.C. Mitter, J.

4. I agree.


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