SWARUPKISHORE Vs. GOVERDHANDAS
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
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Dixit, J. -
(1.) THIS is an appeal from the decision of the Additional District Judge of Gwalior whereby the Plaintiff -Respondent Gowardhandas was awarded Rs. 1,000 as damages for assault and battery committed by the Defendant -Appellant.
(2.) IT was alleged by the Plaintiff that on the evening of 6 -12 -1946 Mst. Chamelibai accompanied by a family barber came to the Plaintiff's house for the purpose of distributing "ladoos" (Sweets) in connection with the Jalwa ceremony of a recently born grandson. For some reason Gowardhandas declined to accept the "ladoos". Thereupon Chamelibai returned to her house abusing the Plaintiff, and shortly afterwards she again came to the Plaintiff's house bringing with her, her sons Roopkishore and Sawroopkishore; that on Coming to the Plaintiff's house Chamelibai and her sons abused the Plaintiff and Swaroopkishore slapped him in the face.
The Plaintiff further alleged that Swaroopkishor also threatened him to beat with a shoe and that Mst. Chamelibai also picked up a stone to hit him. The Plaintiff stated that by reason of this conduct of the Defendants he sustained shock, mental suffering and injury to his dignity and position. He claimed Rs. 15,000 as damages.
The Defendant Roopkishore denied the Plaintiff's allegations saying that he was not present at the scene of the occurrence. The defence of Mst. Chamelibai and Swaroopkishore was that when Chamelibai went to give "Ladoos" to the Plaintiff the Plaintiff declined to accept them and began abusing Chamelibai; that on learning this Swaroopkishore went to the house of the Plaintiff and brought her mother back; that the Plaintiff's allegations about the assault and battery and abuses on their part wore baseless and false. The trial Judge found that Swaroopkishore slapped the Plaintiff without any reason and that all the Defendants abused the Plaintiff.
He further found that the Plaintiff had not been able to prove the precise abuses that were uttered by the Defendants or the fact that Chamelibai picked up a stone to hit him or that Chameibai and Roopkishore instigated Swaroopkishore in slapping the Plaintiff. On this finding and taking into consideration the evidence as to the Plaintiff's and the Defendants status and position and the circumstances in which the Plaintiff was slapped, the trial Judge came to the conclusion that besides general damages the Plaintiff should be given exemplary damages also and awarded to the Plaintiff a decree for Rs. 1,000 as damages against Swaroopkishore only.
The Court also, directed Swaroopkishore to pay the Plaintiff's full costs of the suit and to bear his own costs. Swaroopkishore has now appealed to this Court.
In his written statement the Appellant has not denfed the fact of his mother Chamelibai having gone to the Plaintiff's house on the evening of 6 -12 -1943 for giving "ladoos" to him and of the Plaintiffs refusing them. The Appellant also admitted his presence on material date and time a Plaintiff's house. The controversy is as to what took place when Chamelibai and the Appellant visited the Plaintiff's house.
The Plaintiff alleged that Chamelibai and Swaroopkishore abused him and that Swaroopkishore gave him a slap. The Appellant stated that the Plaintiff himself abused hint and that he had gone to the Plaintiffs' house to bring back his mother. Mr. Kak, learned Counsel for the Appellant, urged that the evidence produced by the Plaintiff was interested, unwortly of any credit and altogether inconclusive to establish the fact that the Appellant and Chamelibai abused the Plaintiff or that Swaroopkishore slapped the Plaintiff.
It was said that the Plaintiff improved his story from time to time; that the version put forward by him was altogether improbable and that the statements of his witnesses Sukhdeo and Jwala Prasad which were not considered by the trial judge showed that the Plaintiff's story was false. There is no force in the criticism made by the learned Counsel of the Plaintiff's evidence.
(After discussion of the evidence his Lordship proceeded:) On a consideration of the evidence on record, I think the learned Additional District Judge was right in holding that Swaroopkishore slapped Gowardhandas.
(3.) IT was then contended that Swaroopkishore was of fifteen or sixteen years of age when he slapped Gowardhandas and that, therefore, being a minor he could not be held liable in damages. The contention must be rejected. A minor is in general liable for his torts in the same manner and to the same extent as an adult. The rule of exemption form all responsibility and liability for an act done by a person below a certain ago has no applicability in conduct tortious in itself and in its very essence. It is only in those cases where an act is innocent in itself, but becomes tortious by the addition of some ingredient such as intention, malice, knowledge or state of mind in person charged as a wrong -doer that the age and mental capacity of the Defendant becomes relevant.
(See Pollock on Torts, 15th Edition P. 47; Salmond on Torts, 11th Edition P. 70). Here, the act slapping Gowardhandas was not the indirect result of a legitimate activity gone wrong, but was the direct result of the Appellant's illegal behaviour which was wrougful from the beginning and could not conceivably be anything else.
In the case of a violent assault and battery on a harmless man, such considerations as intention, knowledge, state of mind and conception of right and wrong are wholly immaterial, the act in itself is sufficient to support the cause of action. The Appellant cannot, therefore, contend that he cannot be made liable for damages because at the time of commission of the battery lie was a minor of fifteen or sixteen years of age, and did not know the nature and quality of the act or that what he was doing was wrong.;
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