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State Of Kerala Versus T.M. Chacko

2000 (4) TMI 832 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

C.A. 1682 Of 1991 - Dated:- 19-4-2000 - S.S.M. Quadri and Shivaraj V. Patil, JJ. ORDER S.S.M. Quadri, 1. The short question that arises in this appeal is whether Exhibits B-4 and A-8 do not contain any acknowledgment of the liability by the Appellant - Defendant , the State of Kerala, and if so is the suit filed by the Respondent - Plaintiff, for recovery of the bid amount paid to the Forest Department, barred by limitation under Article 47 of the Limitation Act, 1963?. 2. Briefly stated, the fo .....

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id coupe on or before March 31,1974. Part of it only was collected and removed by him before February 21,1974, When unfortunately fire broke out in the reserved forest which destroyed also the remaining forest produce of the Respondent's coupe. The Respondent made representations to the Forest Department seeking reduction of the bid amount on the ground that his coupe was destroyed by the wild fire. On June 27, 1974, the Government of Kerala instead of reducing the bid amount thought it fit .....

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ndent. 4. The Respondent, thereafter, issued noticed under Section 80 of the CPC to the Appellant claiming the amount of compensation which included refund of the bid amount and filed the suit as indigent person on July 28, 1977 in the Court of Subordinate Judge, Trivandrum, praying the court to grant compensation to the tune of ₹ 83,000/-with twelve per cent interest per annum amounting to ₹ 35,690/- and future interest at six percent per annum. The Appellant denied that it was liab .....

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eal. From the said judgment of the High Court, the present appeal arises. 5. Ms. Malini Poduval, learned Counsel for the Appellant, contends that neither Exhibit B-4 nor Exhibit A-8 can be treated as an acknowledgment of the liability of the Respondent's claim, and therefore, the trial court as well as the High Court erred in holding that the suit was not barred by limitation. 6. Mr. Ramesh Babu, learned Counsel appearing for the Respondent, has submitted that the representation of the Respo .....

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that the suit of the Respondent for recovery of the bid amount paid by him for the forest produce, on the ground that due to the wild fire the contract was frustrated is governed by Article 47 of the Limitation Act, 1963. The said article reads as under: Description of suit Period of limitation Time for which period begins to run 47. For money paid upon an existing consideration which afterwards fails Three Years The date of the failure The period of limitation is three years from the date of th .....

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eriod starts from the date of the acknowledgement of the liability i.e from September 19,1974. 8. Now, we shall advert to Section 18 of the Limitation Act which speaks of the effect of acknowledgement in writing and it reads as follows: 18. Effect of acknowledgement in writing. (1) Where, before the expiration of the prescribed period for a suit or application in respect of any property or right, an acknowledgment of liability in respect of such property or right has been made in writing signed .....

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he purposes of this section.- (a) an acknowledgement may be sufficient though it omits to specify the exact nature of the property or right, or avers that the time for payment, delivery, performance or enjoyment has not yet come or is accompanied by refusal to pay, deliver, perform or permit to enjoy, or is coupled with a claim to set off, or is addressed to a person other than a person entitled to the property or right, (b) the word 'signed' means signed either personally or by an agent .....

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rives his title or liability; (3) the acknowledgement must be made before the expiration of the period pre scribed for a suit or application (other than application for the execution of a decree) in respect of such property or right. The effect of such an acknowledgement is that a fresh period of limitation has to be computed from the time when the acknowledgement was so signed. 9. Sub-section (2) permits giving of oral evidence at the trial of the suit where the acknowledgement is undated but i .....

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njoy; (iv) it is coupled with a claim to set off; or (v) It is addressed to a person other than a person entitled to the property or right. Clause (b) of the explanation defines the word "signed' to mean signed either personally or by an agent duly authorised in that behalf. 10. It may be noted that for treating a writing signed by the party as an acknowledgement, the person acknowledging must be conscious of his liability and the commitment should be made towards that liability. It nee .....

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ons & Crossfield Ltd. v. State of Kerala 63 K.L. T. 215. It is laid down therein that it was not necessary that there should be a specific and direct acknowledgement of the particular liability which is sought to be enforced if there was an admission of facts of which the liability in question was necessary consequence then there would be an acknowledgement within the meaning of Section 19 of Limitation of 1908. It is not the correctness of the proposition but its application that is in disp .....

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of the residual tree growth in Sub-coupe VII of Coupe X, Palode Reserve, Paruthipally Range was awarded to Shri, T.M. Chacko for ₹ 75,000/-. He had executed an agreement on 15.1.1974, the period of contract being up to 31.3.1974. An accidental fire occurred in the coupe on 21.2.1974 causing heavy damage to the coupe. The contractor has therefore requested the Chief Conservator of Forests, to compensate the loss caused to him by fixing the fiscal amount of the coupe at 1.50% of the departme .....

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f contract for removal of the produce, by 45 days from the date of order free of penalty and to grant one month from the date of order for the remittance on balance value of the coupe free of interest. By order of the Governor Sd/- K.K. Gopalan Deputy Secretary to Government. In the said order the representation of the Respondent, Exhibit B-2, was under consideration of the Appellant. A perusal of the said representation makes it clear that the claim was for remission of the bid amount by 1.50% .....

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tioned at the risk and loss of the Respondent. On a careful reading of this letter we are unable to find that the claim of refund of bid amount by the Respondent was the subject of consideration nor can we infer any acknowledgement of liability of that claim by the concerned authority. 14. We have also support for our view from the decision of this Court in Shapoor Fredoom Mazda v. Durga Prasad Chamaria and Ors. MANU/SC/0254/1961MANU/SC/0254/1961 : [1962]1SCR140 . While interpreting Section 19 o .....

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of the said liability might not be indicated in words; if words used in the acknowledgement indicated the existence of jural relationship between the parties, such as that of debtor or creditor and the statement was made with the express intention to admit such jural relationship of if such intention could be inferred by implication from the nature of the admission, the acknowledgment of liability would follow. 15. We have already indicated above that neither the claim of refund of bid amount w .....

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