Decided on September 19,1963



V.B.Raju, J. - (1.) This is an appeal by the original defendant. The admitted facts, giving rise to this litigation, are that the defendant who is a graduate of the Engineering College entered into a contract with the respondent plaintiff, the Ambica Mills Ltd., agreeing to serve the plaintiff for a period of five years from 1st November 1960. The agreement also provided that the defendant was not to serve anywhere else during that period. From 15th February 1961, the defendant left the service of the plaintiff and started service in another firm, namely, Swastik Textile Trading Co., on a better salary. The respondent-plaintiff therefore filed a suit, and, inter alia, claimed an injunction to restrain the defendant from serving the Swastik Textile Trading Co., or any other Company or person or firm directly or indirectly till 1st January 1965. The injunction prayed for by the plaintiff has been granted by the trial Court, and in appeal some slight variation was made in the form of the injunction. The variation was that the injunction would not, apply to service to any Company, firm or person outside India. With this modification, the trial Court's decree was confirmed. Hence this second appeal by the original defendant.
(2.) Before me, the learned counsel for the appellant has urged the following points: (a) The agreement was hit by Sections 23 and 27 of the Indian Contract Act, and therefore void and unenforceable. (b) The suit agreement hits Section 21 of the Specific Relief Act and therefore void, illegal and unenforceable. (c) The discretion exercised by the learned Judge is exercised contrary to the principles laid down in Section 22 of the Specific Relief Act. (d) Section. 57 of the Specific Relief Act in so far as and to the extent that it empowers the Court to grant an injunction restraining a person from serving any employer of his choice after having left service of any employer is unconstitutional and void because it is inconsistent with the fundamental right guaranteed in Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. The said section takes away or restricts the appellant's freedom of trade, occupation or business and the restriction imposed by it is not reasonable nor is it imposed in the interests of the general public. (e) Assuming that Section 57 is not void on the ground stated above, the order of injunction passed by the learned Judge is violative of Articles 19(1)(g) and 23 of the Constitution of India and is therefore illegal.
(3.) There is no merit in the contention that the agreement between the parties is hit by Section 23 of the Contract Act. That section reads as follows: "The consideration or object of an agreement is lawful, unless: it is forbidden by law; or is of such a nature that, if permitted, it would defeat the provisions of any law; or is fraudulent or involves or implies injury to the person or property of another; or the Court regards it as immoral, or opposed to public policy. In each o these cases, the consideration or object of an agreement is said to be unlawful. Every agreement of which the object or consideration is unlawful is void.";

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