Decided on October 09,1979

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


N.H.BHATT - (1.) . This is a petition by a company styled as M/s. Saurashtra Cement and Chemical Industries Ltd; against the Union of India in the Ministry of Railways the Joint Director Traffic (Transportation) Railway Board the General Manager and the Chief Commercial Superintendent (Claims) of the Western Railways as the four respondents. The petition is under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and seeks a direction restraining the respondents from diverting the coal which the petitionercompany from time to time has taken from the collieries and which is sent to the petitioner through the respondent-railway being public carriers A further direction is sought to the effect that the respondents be directed to redivert and deliver to the petitioner-company the coal which was already deverted by the respondents in favour of other parties as set out in Annexure E.
(2.) A few facts require to be stated. The petitioner-company is engaged in the manufacture of cement and for that purpose has its Factory at Ranavav in the State of Gujarat. To carry out its objectives the petitioner-company is required to consume coal which is purchased from collieries with which the petitioner-company has been placing orders from time to time. After the placement of orders and soon after the amounts under the revolving letter of credit is given to the collieries or when the order for coal is placed such collieries are loading the coal in the railway wagons ultimately to be transmitted to the petitioners factory at Ranavav. As soon as the oilier is loading the coal into the Railway wagons the ownership of the coal stands transferred to the petitioner- company and the railways being a public carrier only carry the coal of the petitioner-company from colliery from which it is loaded by charging the petitioner certain freight for transportation. At the time of loading the Railway prepares Railway Receipts in the name of the petitioner- company in respect of various wagons in which the coal is collected for being ultimately delivered to the petitioner-company. Soon on getting information of such railway receipts the Petitioner-company pays the freight mentioned in such railway receipts for getting the goods released. The gravemen of the petitioners contention is that the respondents or any of them have no legal right either under the Indian Railways Act or under any Rules whatsoever to divert the railway wagons of coal of the petitioner to other parties and deliver the petitioners coal to others because the price of the coal which is supplied the Collieries is paid by the petitioner-company and the respondents or Their agents have no authority at law to ex-parte decide desertion of these wagons containing coal belonging to the petitioner-company. With the petition is annexed the list Annexute E giving a summary of coal wagons capriciously diverted and delivered to other parties for the period between March 1979 and August 1979. The petitioner-company complained that during the aforesaid period the respondents had diverted about 326 wagons containing coal pertaining to the petitioner which went to measure about 17 951 2 metric tonnes valued at about Rs. 15 36 132 54 Apart from the monetary loss some times the freight of such coal which is diverted by the railway authorities to other parties is also required to be paid by the petitioner-company because some times the wagons which have come to the petitioner-company are under the composite railway receipt and therefore the Railway receipt which has been released by paying the freight by the petitioner- company include such wagons which have been diverted by the railway authorities to other parties. The petitioner-company had entered into lengthy correspondence with the railway authorities and particularly with the respondent no. 4 with respect to the ex-parte injurious diversions but the reply Annexure F sent by the respondent no. 4 mentioned only clumsy grounds to justify diversion of coals in favour of other parties. Justification is sought for such acts in seeing that no factory is closed because of the shortage of coal. The petitioner complained that without the consent of the petitioner the owner of the coal in all such wagons the railway authorities have no right to transfer those coals for whatever reasons in favour of other parties and that such diversion at times resulted into huge loss of production to the petitioner-company on account of stoppage of two kilns only on the count of shortage of coal. The petitioner therefore on these grounds sought for the abovementioned substantial reliefs.
(3.) All the respondents are duly served but they have chosen not to file any return. Reading the sworn petition it passes my comprehension as to how public authorities like union of India and the Western Railway can divert the coal the property of the petitioner-company to other bodies. There does not appear to be any semblance of authority with them. None has been brought to any notice by filing an affidavit. Railways as carriers of goods are only the bailers of goods and they have no right to goods themselves. Under the guise of doing some public service. they are interfering with the well-laid norms of proprietary rights Their action cannot be defended in a court where the rule of law prevails. It is ex-facie autocratic and illegal.;

Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.