FIRM BALMUKUND HARIKISHAN Vs. UNION OF INDIA AND ANOTHER
HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
Firm Balmukund Harikishan
UNION OF INDIA AND ANOTHER
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Nevaskar, J. -
(1.) THIS Small Cause Revision involves an important question of law of general interest and is likely to affect persons who have occasion to deal with the Railways for the purpose of sending goods through their agency.
(2.) A consignment of 200 bags of sugar was hooked at Rampura Station situated on the E. I. Railway at owner's risk (O.R.) at reduced rate of Rs. 1 -4 -0 per maund. A railway receipt evidencing the acceptance of the goods for carriage to Indore Station was issued and bore No. 634713 dated 4 -10 -1948. The total amount payable to Railways was Rs. 698 -8 -0 which was duly paid. The receipt was endorsed by the consignee to the plaintiff who in due course presented to the Railway authorities at Indore on the arrival of the goods there.
The authorities at Indore refused to deliver the goods unless the plaintiff was prepared to pay what they contended to be the undercharge. This was Rs. 274 -1 -0. The plaintiff having no other option paid the same charge under compulsion and obtained delivery of goods. He then filed this suit for refund of the aforesaid sum which, according to him, was wrongly recovered from him. In this suit he impleaded Union of India through General Managers of both E. I. Railway and B. B. & C. I. Railway.
The main ground on which the suit was based was that the railway administration having accepted to carry the goods at owner's risk on payment of reduce rate could not alter the basis of contract by demanding and recovering ordinary third Class rate at Railway risk. The collection of the under -charge on this latter basis was, according to the plaintiff, illegal and unduly deprived the plaintiff of a sum of money which in law he was not bound to pay.
(3.) ON the other hand, it was contended in defence on behalf of the defendant that there was only one rate in respect of this commodity between Rampura and Indore and that was the third Class rate as given in the Railway Tariff at railway risk and the alternative reduced rate at owner's risk was not provided for by the Tariff Regulations prevailing then. The charge collected by the goods -clerk at the despatching Station at that rate was clearly unauthorised and constituted an underpayment and that by Term No. 6 printed on the back of the railway receipt and also by Rule No. 15 Goods Tariff Part I Chapter I the Railway Administration were entitled to recalculate and reclassify the rates already charged and claim to recover the deficit amount under -paid before permitting delivery.;
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