1. The petitioners are the representatives of the Commercial Credit Corporation Ltd. This company let out motor lorries and cars on the hire purchase system, and in the present case the hirer was the opposite party to this rule. The hirers had made various payments in fulfillment of his contract, when some dispute arose between the parties and the petitioners managed to take forcible possession from the hirer and removed the car to their own premises. The hirer thereupon filed a complaint before the Presidency Magistrate and asked for a search warrant for the lorry. The Magistrate made the order, upon the complainant giving a bond to produce it whenever required. The present petitioners came in and alleged that the hirer had been guilty of various breaches of the contract and defaults in payment, and they had given notice more than once that the hire of the vehicle would be terminated and possession resumed by the hirers in terms of the agreement. The Magistrate passed orders dismissing the complaint under Section 203, Criminal P.C, but maintaining the order making over the vehicle to the complainant. Against that order this rule is directed.
2. It is said that the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to make such an order and that the case is on all fours with the case of Brojendra v. K.S. Sama : AIR1931Cal455 . The facts in that case were very different, though it has the similarity that the question arose over a motor bus taken on the hire purchase system. But there the position was that the owner had by some trick taken possession of the bus, and the hirer had recovered possession again by some other strategy or trick. Thereupon the owners had made a complaint of theft and obtained an order for delivery of the bus which order the High Court set aside. The present case is very different: the hirer has been forcibly dispossessed of his lorry and the Magistrate has ordered it to be restored to him. On the one side it is alleged that the party had a right to terminate the contract and resume possession: on the other side it is alleged that no such right existed. Very obviously this was a dispute of a civil nature, and if the right to recover possession had matured, the natural way for the owners to enforce that right is by proceedings in the civil Courts. Whether they had acquired that right depended upon facts which were in dispute between the parties. In the circumstances of this case I see no reason why on principle the Magistrate should not order the resumption of the status quo so that the determination of the rights of the parties might be properly sought before the civil Courts, as it should have been in the first instance. It appears to me that the language of the section is wide enough to cover an order such as this, and that there was no lack of jurisdiction in the learned Magistrate. It is unnecessary to comment on the Magistrate's view of the nature of the contract between the parties, because even assuming the petitioners here remained the owners, the question whether they were entitled to terminate the hire in the events that had happened was a matter for determination in the civil Courts. The rule is therefore discharged.
3. I agree.