KUMARAN Vs. STATE OF KERALA
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
STATE OF KERALA
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(1.)The plaintiff is the appellant. The suit was for recovery of 22 bags of country cotton seized by the 2nd defendant. The 2nd defendant is a Police Head Constable and the 3rd defendant a Forester in the service of the 1st defendant, the State. According to the plaintiff he purchased 22 bags of country cotton from one Kuppan Chettiyar and when he was transporting the same on 11-3-1955 they were seized at Mayannur by the 2nd defendant on the ground that the transport of cotton without permit or pass was illegal. The cotton was removed to the Police Station at Pazhayannur on 12-3-1955, and three days after, it was handed over to the 3rd defendant. The plaintiff thereafter applied to the Divisional Forest Officer on 26-4-1955 for the return of the cotton seized. As his request was not complied with, he has issued a notice to the 1st defendant and has instituted the suit claiming delivery of the specific movables viz., the 22 bags of cotton which were seized from him or in the alternative for recovery of Rs. 462/- towards their value with interest at 6% and for recovery of Rs. 300/- as damages and for the costs of this suit and other incidental reliefs.
(2.)The 1st defendant State contended that it had no vicarious liability for the tortious act of any of its agents in the performance of their statutory functions, that the plaintiff, in transporting the country cotton without a pass was committing an offence under the Forest Act, that the seizure of cotton was legal, that a Criminal case C. C. No. 1939/1955 of the Second Class Magistrate's Court, Talappilly was filed against the plaintiff, that the defendants 2 and 3 acted with bona fides in seizing the cotton in the exercise of their statutory duties and prayed for the dismissal of the suit. The 2nd defendant contended that he had demanded the plaintiff to show the pass for transporting the cotton as required by the Forest Act, that the plaintiff did not produce or show the pass as required and therefore he in the discharge of his duty, was justified in seizing the article. The 3rd defendant contended that the suit having been filed without notice to him, was not maintainable, that he acted only in the discharge of his official duties and as such he was not liable for any of the reliefs claimed by the plaintiff.
(3.)The court below found that country cotton was a forest produce, that the transportation of the same without a permit or pass was an offence and therefore it was liable to be seized by the authorities, that the plaintiff had no cause of action against the defendants and that the plaintiff could be given no remedy. It therefore dismissed the suit, and this appeal is against that decree.
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