BALARAM PANDA Vs. GOPINATH MISRA
HIGH COURT OF ORISSA
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Narasimham, J. -
(1.) This is a plaintiff's appeal against the judgment of the Additional Subordinate Judge, Cuttack, reversing the judgment of the Munsif of Cuttack ana dismissing the plaintiffs suit for recovery of Rs. 3,393/8/-as agent's commission from defendant 1 who is the Lakshmi Insurance Co. Ltd.
(2.) On 27-8-1942 the Maharaja of Parlakhemedi, one of the premier zamindars of Orissa, signed a proposal form (Ex. J.) for insuring his life with the Lakshmi Insurance Company for a sum of one lakh of rupees. The proposal was in due course accepted by the Company & he paid the first annual premium amounting to Rs. 9,024/14/-. The commission due to the agent oh this first premium, according to the terms of contract between the Company and its agent was Rs. 3,393/8/-. The plaintiff was one of the insurance agents of the Company and he claimed the commission alleging that the business was secured through his agency. The nominal Chief Agent of the Company at Cuttack in August, 1942 was defendant 2 Gopinath Misra. He claimed the aforesaid commission alleging- that though the plaintiff was given out as the agent in respect of the said business, in reality the business was secured through the Chief Agent's endeavours. In support of this claim he relied mainly on a letter (Ex. C) written by the plaintiff himself to the Insurance Company directing it to pay the entire commission including the renewal commissions on the Policy of the Maharaja of Parlakhemedi to the Chief Agent of Orissa who was said to be 'really responsible for this case'. The trial Court, disbelieved the claim of the Chief Agent (defendant 2) and decreed the suit holding that Ex. C was brought about by undue influence and coercion and that no weight should be attached to the recitals contained therein. The lower appellate Court, however, held that Ex. C was written out voluntarily by the plaintiff and that in view of the admissions contained therein and other unsatisfactory features in his evidence it could not be held that the said business was secured through him.
(3.) To appreciate the dispute it will be useful if certain admitted facts are first recapitulated. Pandit Godavaris Misra who is one of the prominent politicians of Orissa and formerly a Congressman, was mainly responsible for expanding the business of the Lakshmi Insurance Company (whose headquarters was then in Lahore) in Orissa. He was the Chief Agent of the Company from, 1927 and the office of the Company at Cuttack was located in a part of his own residence. The business of the Company was practically managed, as if it were his family affairs and his two sons Lokanath and Ranganath and his daughter were appointed as agents of the Company for some years. When Pandit Godavaris Misra resigned his position as the Chief Agent of the Company in November, 1941 his elder son Lokanath was appointed as the Chief Agent for some months. Prom 1-3-1942, however, defendant 2 Gopinath Misra was appointed as the Chief Agent and continued in that capacity till 1946. But even during that period the family of Pandit Godavaris Misra continued to take active part in the management of the Company at Cuttack and his son Lokanath continued to remain interested in the Company even on the date on which Pandit Godavaris Misra deposed before the lower Court (15-11-46). Defendant 2 Gopinath Misra, though not a relation of Pandit Godavaris Misra, had worked with him for about fifteen or twenty years assisting him in several capacities and used to be given some remuneration in the early stages of his career. The plaintiff alleged that Gopinath Misra was merely a cook of Pandit Godavaris Misra. This was, however, denied; but it is admitted that Gopinath Misra used to drive the motor-car of Pandit Godavaris Misra now and then. It was also admitted by D. W. 3 that Gopinath learnt car driving for the convenience of Pandit Godavaris Misra. It is also admitted that Gopinath used to look after the garden of Pandit Godavaris Misra on some occasions, has been associated with him since his boyhood and had lived in his house for about ten years. Gopinath was also running a cloth shop in which Pandit Godavaris Misra's son Ranganath was a partner. It is also admitted that Gopinath does not know English and can just sign his name with some difficulty in that language. Gopinath was also working as an agent of the Insurance Company till his appointment as Chief Agent on 1-8-1942.;
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