Decided on November 26,1954

MADANLAL Appellant

Referred Judgements :-


Cited Judgements :-



Dixit, J. - (1.)THIS is an appeal against a decision of the District Judge, Guna by which he upheld the judgment and decree of the Civil Judge of Bhilsa dismissing the plaintiff appellant's suit claiming reliefs by way of declaration and injunction. The plaintiff alleged that on 14 -8 -1948 the Congress Committee of Basoda entered into an agreement with the State of Madhya Bharat for the sale and distribution on behalf of the Government of foodgrains at Basoda; that according to the agreement the Congress Committee was made responsible for crediting into Government treasury proceeds of the sale of foodgrains after deducting the necessary expenses incurred in distribution and sale of the foodgrains; that on these terms the Congress Committee carried on the work of the sale and distribution of foodgrains from 14 -8 -1948 upto 7 -10 -1948 and that on this latter date the Committee also submitted to the Government an account of the transactions; that contrary to the terms of the aforesaid agreement the State of Madhya Bharat was now holding the plaintiff personally responsible for the sale and distribution of food -grains and was demanding from him a certain -amount as due on account of the undertaking.
On this basis the plaintiff claimed the reliefs firstly (a) of a declaration that according to the contract between the Congress Committee, Basoda and' the State, the plaintiff was not personally responsible for payment of any amount due on account of the sale and distribution of foodgrains; (b) and secondly an injunction restraining the State for ever from recovering any amount on account of the above undertaking. The defendant State resisted the suit inter alia on the ground that it was not maintainable. The trial Judge dismissed the plaintiff's suit holding that it was not maintainable and was also premature. In appeal the learned District Judge of Guna agreed with the decision of the Civil Judge.

(2.)HAVING heard Mr. R.K. Dikshit, learned counsel for the appellant, 1 have reached the conclusion that this appeal must be dismissed. The Courts below were no doubt not accurate in saying that the plaintiff's suit was premature but they were certainly right in holding that the suit was not maintainable. Under S. 42, Specific Relief Act in a suit for declaration the plaintiff must show that he has some legal character or some right to property and that his opponent is denying or interested in denying such legal character or title; and the declaration can only be that the plaintiff is entitled to a legal character or to a right of property. Now legal character is the same as legal status i.e., a position recognized by law. A suit for a declaration that under a certain contract the plaintiff is not liable is not a suit for a declaration that he is entitled to a legal character or to any right as to any property. It is obvious from the plaint that here there is no question of the plaintiffs any legal character or any right as to property.
As to the relief of injunction that also cannot be granted to the plaintiff because if the plaintiff thinks that the demand made by the State is illegal or wrong, the plaintiff can refuse the payment and set up the plea, he is now taking, when the State takes proceedings against him for enforcing this demand. There is no obligation on the State that it shall not make a demand on the plaintiff for the payment of any sum which the State thinks is due from him. Even if it is assumed that there is such an obligation in favour of the plaintiff, still under cl. (i) of S. 56, Specific Relief Act the plaintiff cannot be granted the relief of a perpetual injunction. Under that clause no perpetual injunction can be granted "when equally efficacious relief can certainly be obtained by any other usual mode or proceeding." In my opinion whether the defendant State institutes a civil suit against the plaintiff for the recovery of the amount in question or whether, if the amount is recoverable as arrears of land revenue, takes other appropriate proceedings for its recovery, in either case the plaintiff can certainly obtain equally efficacious relief by denying in those proceedings his liability to pay the amount demanded from him.

It cannot be denied that the proceedings indicated above, which the State may take to enforce its claim would be "usual mode of proceeding". The view I have taken is fully supported by the decision of Bose J. in - - 'Municipal Committee, Akola v. Sm. Shantarani',, AIR 1946 Nag 78 (A). That was a case in which the Municipal Committee of Akola sent to Shantarani a notice demanding the cost of tarring and metalling a strip of road running alongside her plot, which work the Municipality had executed itself when Shantarani had refused to comply with notice of the Municipality calling upon to tar and metal the strip of road. Shantarani then filed a suit seeking an injunction restraining the Municipal Committee from recovering the cost.

Bose J., holding that the plaintiff's suit was not maintainable dealt with the matter in this way. He said:

The defendant has so far done no more than send in bills to the plaintiffs. It may be right in making these demands or it may be wrong, but I find it difficult to see how a suit can lie for a perpetual injunction to restrain either a body like a municipal corporation or a private individual from sending in a bill and making a demand for moneys which they consider, rightly or wrongly, to be due to them. If this were to be done in such a way as to be tantamount to harassment or to amount to a nuisance that might be another matter, but there is no allegation about that and even if there were I cannot see how the mere sending in of a bill can amount to an actionable nuisance, or constitute harassment. If the plaintiff think the money is not due they are not bound to pay any more than they are bound to pay any other demand or bill. When the defendant comes to enforce his demand then will be the proper time to resist in such ways as are permitted by law, and the proper place to set up this plea will be in the tribunal constituted by law to try, hear and determine this question.

The learned Judge referred to the decision in - - - 'Chuni Lal v. Surat City Municipality',, 27 Bom 403 (B), which laid down that an injunction to restrain a municipality from levying what was alleged to be an unauthorised tax would not lie. He then considered the decision in Municipal Committee, Montgomery v. Sant Singh, : AIR 1940 Lah 377 (FB) (C), in which learned Judges of the Lahore High Court expressed their disagreement with the view taken by the Bombay High Court in, 27 Bom 403 (B). Distinguishing these two decisions Bose J. observed - - But I do not think either case is in point here, because, though the questions at issue are analogous they are not the same. In the Lahore and Bombay cases the question was about the levy of a tax, that is to say it related to an attempt to impose a recurring liability. But here the liability, if it arises at all, arises once and for all, and all that the defendant Committee has done so far is to send in a bill for money which it says is due.

(3.)BOSE J. further held that the relief of injunction claimed by Shantarani could not be granted to her as she could obtain equally efficacious relief in usual mode of proceedings which the Municipal Committee may take for enforcing their claim. The case of the Municipal Committee of Akola is on all fours with the present case.

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