ROSHAN LAL Vs. BARKAT RAM BHALLA
HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
BARKAT RAM BHALLA
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(1.) This is a first appeal from order which had a chequered history arising out of a dispute between father and son in which son has successfully evaded so far in paying maintenance to his aged father. On 21st July, 1951 Barkat Ram Bhalla sued in forma pauperis his son Roshan Lal seeking maintenance. Roshan Lal, the son, according to his learned counsel, is a businessman engaged in business in U.P. As a result of compromise arrived at on 14th February, 1952 the son was ordered to pay a sum of Rs. 35 per mensem by way of maintenance to his father. But it appears that the son successfully evaded the duty caste on him of maintaining his aged and indigent father. On 15th July, 1952 the father was again compelled to seek the assistance of the Court. The arrears had been mounting for some time and on 15th July, 1952 the figure was Rs. 3,600.
(2.) The father sued as a pauper and the Collector was satisfied as to Barkar Ram's pauperism and reported accordingly. It appears that though the State seemed to be satisfied and did not object to the father seeking relief in forma pauperis, the son persisted in contending that as his father was owner of a house he was in a position to pay court-fees. On 4th November, 1953 a reference to the arbitration was agreed by the parties and two lawyers, Shri Madan Gopal, Pleader and Shri Mulk Raj Punj, Advocate, were accepted as arbitrators by the respective parties. It appears that difficulties were placed in the way of these arbitrators who ultimately refused to serve as arbitrators. They were replaced by Messrs, Chuni Lal and Sham Lal, Advocates. They after hearing the parties and considering the material placed before them submitted a joint report to the effect that in their opinion Rs. 35 per mensem should be paid to the father so long as he lives. In the past the son whenever he sent Rs. 35 he used to deduct the money order fee out of Rs. 35, but the arbitrators were of the view that the father should receive a net sum of Rs. 35 per mensem. This report was received on 13th November, 1954 but on 14th December, 1954 Shri Durga Parshad Sodhi remitted the award to the arbitrators as according to him it was incomplete, the question of pauperism of the father not having been decided by the arbitrators, and the question as to which party was liable to pay the costs had not been decided. No decision had even made as to who was to pay the court fees. On the points referred to, the two arbitrators were not ad idem. According to Shri Sham Lal, he was of the view that on the evidence produced by the parties the plaintiff was a pauper. He also was of the opinion that a decree for maintenance at the rate of Rs. 35 per mensem should be passed against the defendant with proportionate costs. Regarding payment of the court-fee he wanted to leave the matter to the trial Court for its decision. The other arbitrator Shri Chuni Lal was also of the view that the father was in fact a pauper and Rs. 35 per month should be the maintenance amount with proportionate costs to be borne by the son. He, however, added a note that the amount of maintenance should be paid from the date of the suit and the entire court-fees should be paid by the son. The parties were asked to file objections, if any, to the award. Barkat Ram Bhalla, the father, had no objections to file but the son filed lengthy objections on 5th February, 1955. Every conceivable objection known to law and ingenuity was raised. The trial Court framed the following issues :-
1. Were the arbitrators competent or not to decide whether the suit could continue in forma pauperis ?
2. Can the arbitrators be considered to have given two different awards, which are therefore vitiated on that account ?
(3.) Were the arbitrators appointed without Rohan Lal having any say in the matter of their appointment and what is its effect ?;
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