L. Nawal Kishore vs Rameshwar Nath and Ors: Case Analysis

L. Nawal Kishore vs Rameshwar Nath and Ors: Case Analysis

Author: Lakshita Mahajan, 1st year BA.LLB Student at Institute of Law, Nirma University

  • Abstract:

Cases related to properties are often very long and also at times never-ending. These include several issues, multiple parties, and many more beneficiaries. All these and many more make these cases very prolong and exhausting. One of such case was of L. Nawal Kishore vs Rameshwar Nath and Ors., which exemplifies how a mistake committed at starting, could lead to hefty consequences at the end. This case surrounds two brothers who were declared insolvents by Nawal Kishore who asked the Official Receiver to attach all of their property. Amongst those, one of the properties was sold by them to another party, before they were declared insolvent. This confusion stirred up the entire case and thus become of its own kind. Moreover, the case’s final verdict also shows that if we do not have a specific, dedicated rule or act or something else in India regarding any other matter, we may take reference from different sources, but not necessarily abide by those. This case also highlighted that cases in India are based on the Principle of Equity, Justice and Good Conscience when there exist unclarity on certain matters under law. Moreover, the concept of Joint Tort-Feasors is also discussed in this article. Thus, this article includes the introduction to the parties involved in the case, facts of the case, the laws applied in the proceedings, the issues that arose in the case, and the judgement. 

  • Introduction:

The name of the case is L. Nawal Kishore vs Rameshwar Nath And Ors. on 24 February, 1955. Whose citations are AIR1955ALL594, AIR 1955 ALLAHABAD 594. The parties to the case were Nawal Kishore as the defence appellant and Rameshwar Nath as the defendant in the appeal. The bench included Justice Agarwala and Justice Mulla. 

  • Facts of the case:

Two people, Khawja Baksh and Riaz Uddin, were declared insolvent on the application of Nawal Kishore. All the properties of the insolvents were attached by the official receiver who also attached a property of which 11 shops and a hall housing the printing machine, was purchased by Bishambar Nath Khazanchi, prior to the insolvency proceedings. To this Khazanchi objected and sent a notice to the official receiver to release his property and when this was not followed, he filed a suit for declaration of this title. The property was, however released during the pendency of suit. But after this, the plaintiff got the plaint amended claiming for damages on the following grounds- 

a) Damages caused to the building

b) Loss of income from the building 

c) ‘Pendente lite’ and Future Mesne Profits 

The trial court had dismissed the whole suit; however, the lower appellate court maintained the decree of dismissal against Nawal Kishore but decreed the suit against the official receiver. The official receiver then appealed to the Allahabad High Court against the decree passed by the lower appellate and even the plaintiff appealed to the court against both Nawal Kishore and the official receiver. The appeal filed by the official receiver abated while it was pending in the court as Bishambar Nath died during that time and his heirs were not brought on record on time. Subsequently, his heirs were brought on record and the case continued. The case was then heard at Allahabad High Court where its verdict was given on 24th February 1955. 

  • Law and Principle applied in the case:

i) Section 6 (1) (b) of an English Act entitled (Married Women and Tort-feasors) Act, 1930 (25 and 26 Geo. V, C. 30)

This section states, “Although it is possible to bring separate actions against the joint tort-feasors by virtue of this provision and therefore to recover separate judgments, the sums recoverable under those judgments by way of damages are not in the aggregate to exceed the amount of the damages awarded by the judgment first given.” Thus, this means it is possible to have separate actions against the joint tort-feasors and recover separate judgements however the sums recoverable in those judgements should not exceed the judgement that was first passed. 

ii) Principle of Justice, Equity and Good Conscience 

This principle is used in order to ensure that all the decision made on matters which are not included under already exist statutory laws, are made fairly and does the justice as the courts are required to do. In the India, we do not have any statutory law regarding torts. Hence, we always refer to the precedents, the English Law or any other sources, but apply only if it seems suited to the Indian society and circumstances, and also if it is consonance with the Principle of Equity, Justice and Good conscience. 

  • The issues of the case and their reasoning by the High Court-

Briefly, the issue was that the building which was attached by the Official Receiver on the instances of Nawal Kishore, belonged to Bishambar Nath Khazanchi. It was subsequently released but Khazanchi, and later on his heirs brought a suit for the damages caused to the building and the loss of income. In-depth, during the proceedings, broadly three issues were raised. These were as follows- 

First: It was not open for the court below to pass the decree against Nawal Kishore for an amount in excess of Rs. 812/8/ for which a decree had been passed against the Official Receiver. This argument was based upon Section 6 (1) (b) of an English Act entitled (Married Women and Tort-feasors) Act, 1930 (25 and 26 Geo. V, C. 30). This refers to more than one action and provides that in the second and subsequent actions taken together not more than the amount decreed in the first action shall be decreed. Here, the court highlighted that it is not concerned with more than one action because in the present case there was only one action against the two defendants. The Section, therefore, would not apply to a case of the present nature. Moreover, there is no statutory law of torts in this country and the Act aforesaid is not applicable here. The courts in India act on the principle of Equity, Justice and Good Conscience in those matters which are not covered by statute and at the time when we have to rely upon the principles given in the English Tort law. Therefore, the court concluded, any technical rule or statutory law of England is not, as such, considered to be based on the principle of equity, justice or good conscience, unless it appears to be so to the judge deciding the case, hence giving the idea that tort laws of England or for that matter any country’s law of torts should be made applicable as per the Indian atmosphere and jurisprudence. Thus, this contention was declared not sound by the court. 

Second: The next contention was that Nawal Kishore should not be held liable for the damages caused to the building on account of the negligence of the Official Receiver. This too was considered not an appropriate contention by the court. The damage caused to the building was the direct consequence of the attachment and its being locked up. Nawal Kishore got the property attached and locked up, thus it was the direct consequences of his action which caused such damage to Khazanchi. For the very fact that none of this had occurred if Nawal Kishore would not have attached the property belonging to Khazanchi, he must indeed be held liable. 

Third: The last key issue raised in this case was that the amount of damages determined by the lower court was too high. This contention too was not held viable as even if the assessment is wrong, it is purely the question of fact and the decision given by the court below cannot be interfered with in the appeal. 

  • Judgement of the Case:

The appeal was thus dismissed by the High Court as they find no force in the raised contentions by the appellant. Moreover, the court directed official receiver to pay the damages as prescribed by the lower appellate court, and along with that, they also made Nawal Kishore liable for the damage caused to the defendant and made him pay the sum of Rs. 1900 to the defendant. 

  • Conclusion:

This case in 1955, very adequately described India’s Legal System, which is based on the Principle of Justice, Equity and Good Conscience. This explained that no matter what, the courts across the country are based on this principle and would sufficiently function according to this. The case also highlighted that even though we are open to get light from all the sources and guide our legal actions, we may not do it blindly. As was highlighted by Justice Agarwala in the afore case, that we may look at different sources of the world to get an idea about the matter for which we do not have any statutory law, but we may apply it only if deems fit according to the Indian atmosphere and system. 



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