Decided on September 16,1955



- (1.)The second defendant is the appellant in this Second Appeal which arises out of a suit filed by the respondent for damages for seizure of goods belonging to him maliciously, etc., which was estimated at Rs. 1,901-8-0 and for other incidental reliefs.
(2.)The facts necessary to understand the relative contentions of the parties may be briefly stated : The respondent is a firm of merchants dealing in handloom cloth. They had a licence to stock their goods in their own godowns at Mori in East Godavari District. On 11th September, 1947, the appellant, a C.I.D. Inspector of Police, and the third defendant, the Textile Control Officer went to the godowns and demanded the production of the licence. It was represented to them by the merchant that the licence was sent for renewal and would be got back in a few days. Not satisfied with this explanation, defendants 2 and 3 seized the goods, stored them in a room of the plaintiff's house, locked and sealed it. Within a week, the second defendant came to know on inquiry that the respondent had a licence to stock the goods. Yet, the goods were not released to the respondent in spite of repeated requests. Not satisfied, the and defendant launched a prosecution against him under section 7 of Central Act XXIV of 1946 on the allegations that he was indulging in black-marketing. Ultimately, the cloth was released on the 13th of October, 1947. Even before the room in which the goods were stored was opened, the and defendant managed to get a receipt, Exhibit B-1, from the respondent acknowledging the return of the goods. When the door was unlocked and the boxes opened, it was found that the cloth was damaged to a great extent. Immediately, the respondent and a head constable who was left there by the 2nd defendant rushed to the place where the 2nd defendant was sitting and requested him to come to the place to see the enormity of the loss that was sustained by the respondent, but the appellant refused to go there. The next day, the plaintiff issued a notice of suit to the defendants and it was received by the appellant on 16th October, 1947. By way of reprisal the appellant immediately sent up a report to the District Collector recommending the cancellation of the licence. Acting on the report, the District Collector cancelled it. But, subsequently, the Textile Commissioner, on investigation finding that the report by the appellant was baseless renewed the licence. In April, 1948, the criminal case filed against the plaintiff ended in discharge, the Magistrate finding that no evidence was placed before him to show that there was any black-marketing in this case and that there was absolutely no basis for filing a complaint. It was also observed the complaint was incompetent for the reason that the sanction of the District Collector was not obtained. As the demand of the plaintiff for payment of damages was not complied with by any of the defendants as per the notice, the suit out of which this Second Appeal arose was filed impleading the Province of Madras represented by the Collector, East Godavari as the 1st defendant. The claim was made up of the following items : Rs. 801-8-0 being the estimated cost of damaged cloth ; Rs. 500 loss sustained by the plaintiff due to fall in prices ; and Rs. 600 damages for loss of reputation.
(3.)The suit was resisted by all the defendants, inter alia, on the pleas that the and and ard defendants acted bona fide in seizing the cloth, that the malice attributed to them was baseless and that the protection afforded by section 16 (1) and (2) of the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act of 1946 could be availed of by them. The trial Court decreed the suit against the and defendant for Rs. 801-8-0 in respect of loss sustained by him as a result of the damage done to the cloth and dismissed it in other respects. He felt that there was no loss owing to fall in prices, nor was there any loss of reputation. He also found that the and defendant was not actuated by malice in seizing the goods, but in as much as he had no authority to seize the goods which were damaged by white ants he was liable to pay the amount claimed under that head. The suit was dismissed as against defendants 1 and 3. Both sides appealed to the Subordinate Judge, Amalapuram. While dismissing the appeal preferred by the and defendant concurring in the opinion of the trial Court as regards the authority of the officer to seize the goods the Subordinate Judge awarded a sum of Rs. aoo by way of damages for the loss of reputation, in the appeal preferred by the plaintiff. The aggrieved and defendant has preferred this Second Appeal.

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