GOVERDHANDAS KALIDAS Vs. NEW DHOLERA STEAMSHIPS LTD
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
NEW DHOLERA STEAMSHIPS LTD
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(1.)The plaintiff is the appellant. The suit was to recover the amount paid by the plaintiff to the 3rd defendant as watching charges and also for damages for short delivery and other reliefs. The 1st defendant is a shipping company and the 2nd defendant was its landing agent. The 3rd defendant was a sub agent employed by the 2nd defendant for the landing work etc. The plaint is founded on the following allegations. One Dwarakadas Panachand, a merchant at Mattancherry consigned 1560 bundles of coir rope and 619 bundles of coir yarn, for carriage to Karachi, in 'S. S. Mosna' belonging to the 1st defendant on 30-3-1946. The goods arrived in Karachi on 26-4-1946. But before the goods reached Karachi Dwarakadas Panachand became insolvent, and the official receiver got the bill of lading and paid the freight. Thereafter the official receiver endorsed the bill of lading to one J. J. Malavia, who in turn endorsed the same for consideration to the plaintiff. The plaintiff went to Karachi to take delivery of the goods. By the time the plaintiff reached Karachi, the goods were already discharged from the ship, and were lying in open air in the Karachi Port area. The plaintiff's agent paid Rs. 380-3-4 to the Port authorities as demurrage to get delivery of the goods. But the plaintiff's agent could not get delivery of the goods on account of the false and exorbitant claim of the 2nd and the 3rd defendants for watching charges. The 3rd defendant demanded Rs. 9,000/- as watching charges before it would permit the 2nd defendant to part with the goods. After a good deal of bargaining the amount was reduced to Rs. 2,000/- and the plaintiff paid this amount to the 3rd defendant. That amount was paid under protest. Not being satisfied with that amount the 3rd defendant wanted further amounts to be paid by the plaintiff and the plaintiff's agent had to pay Rs. 500/- more to the 3rd defendant before he could get delivery of the goods from the 2nd defendant. The plaintiff paid the amount also under protest as he had to get the goods immediately. The suit therefore was filed for recovery of these amounts as also for damages for short delivery and other claims which are not material for the purpose of this appeal.
(2.)The 1st defendant contended that its responsibility ceased when the goods were free of the ship's tackle and that thereafter it had no liability for the acts of the 2nd defendant or for that matter, of the 3rd defendant. It was further contended that the 3rd defendant was an independent contractor, that it had no vicarious liability for the acts of the 3rd defendant, that the suit was barred by limitation and that the plaintiff had no cause of action against it. The 2nd defendant filed a written statement contending that it was ready and willing to give delivery of the goods to the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff was bound to pay the watching charges of the 3rd defendant. It also contended that there was nobody to take delivery of the goods as soon as they were landed, that the 3rd defendant had kept watch over the goods, that the claim for the usual remuneration by the 3rd defendant was justified, and that it was not liable for repayment of any amount, The 3rd defendant remained ex parte.
(3.)The court below found that the amounts which the plaintiff paid were paid under coercion, that there was no valid foundation for the claim made by defendants 2 and 3, and therefore they were bound to refund the amounts. As regards the question of the liability of the 1st defendant for the amount, it held that the 1st defendant had no liability, as its liability as a carrier ceased when the goods were discharged from the ship. It therefore dismissed the suit as against the 1st defendant, but decreed this claim only as against defendants 2 and 3.
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