Decided on June 19,1961

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


S.K.Niyogi, J. - (1.) These three appeals are at the instance of the plaintiff M/s. Himmatsinghka Timber Ltd. and arise out of three suits for recovery of compensation from the Union of India representing the Eastern Railway and the North Eastern Railway for short delivery of goods in respect or three different consignments.
(2.) The facts of the case about which there is no dispute may shortly be stated as follows : The Range Officer of the Forest Department, Government of Assam, at Rangapahar crossing made over three different consignment of hard wood swan timber to the North Eastern. Railway for carriage and despatch to Ultadanga Railway Station on the Eastern Railway for delivery to the consignee, namely, the plaintiff company. The first consignment consisted of 2796 pieces of timber and measured 900.16 cubic ft. and this was booked under R. R. 485790 and Invoice No. 2, both dated 9-3-1951- The second consignment consisted of 1797 pieces of timber and measured 642.08 cubic ft. and was booked under RR 485795 and Invoice No. 2 both dated 4-4-1951. The third consignment consisted of 2377 pieces of timber and measured 853.07 cubic ft. and was booked under RR 485796 and Invoice No. 3 both dated 5-4-1951. Admittedly, the plaintiff company go short delivery in respect of the above three consignments. Thus there was short delivery of 496 pieces of timber measuring 259.81 cubic ft. in respect of the first consignment. There were similarly a short delivery of 576 pieces of timber measuring 313.44 cubic it. in respect of the second consignment and short delivery of 494 pieces of timber measuring 326.74 cubic ft. in respect of the third consignment.
(3.) The consignments were thus booked under what is called LU condition, that is, the loading and unloading of wagons were the responsibility of the consignor and the consignee respectively. The plaintiff company instituted as many as three suits being Money Suits Nos. 15 of 1954, 16 of 1954 and 17 of 1954 in respect of the above three consignments claiming various compensations; after service of notices under Section 77 of the Indian Railways Act and Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The suits were contested by the defendant Union of India almost on identical grounds. It was thus contended that as the consignments were booked under LU condition, the Union of India could not be made responsible for the alleged short supply. It was next contended that no valid and Sufficient notices under Section 77 of the Indian Railways Act and Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure had been served in these cases. It was lastly contended that the suits were all barred by limitation. The suits were heard analogously and there were joint appeals from these three suits.;

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