M. And S.M. Ry. Co., Ltd. vs Gangammal on 11 November, 1927

Madras High Court
M. And S.M. Ry. Co., Ltd. vs Gangammal on 11 November, 1927
Equivalent citations: AIR 1928 Mad 484
Author: M Nair


Madhavan Nair, J.

1. Defendant 5 in O.S. 639 of 1922, on the file of the District Munsif, Ranipet, is the petitioner. The suit was instituted by the plaintiff for the recovery of a sum of money from defendants 4 and 5 in the following circumstances: One Govindaswami, who was an employee of the S. I. Ry Co. died, leaving a sum of Rs. 400 to his credit in the Provident Fund. Before his death he had nominated his mother as the person to whom this money should be paid. Afterwards the Railway Company paid the amount to defendant 4, that is, Govindaswami’s widow, as she produced a succession certificate as her authority for receiving the money. The plaintiff is the sister of the deceased Govindaswami. She instituted the suit as the heir of Govindaswami’s mother saying that, as her mother died without claiming the money, she is in law entitled to get it and not the widow. The Railway Company claims immunity from payment under Section 16, Act 7, 1889, or the ground that they made the payment in good faith on the strength of the succession certificate. The District Munsif came to the conclusion that defendant 5 took all necessary precautions before-making the payment and that it was clear
that defendant 5 made the payment with the bona fide belief that defendant 4 was entitled to the money as she produced the succession certificate.

2. But as in his opinion the plaintiff was legally entitled to recover the money the District Munsif gave a decree in favour of the plaintiff. On appeal preferred by the Railway Company i. e., defendant 5 the learned District Judge came to the conclusion that the company, in making the payment to defendant 4 did not act in good faith, that is, with due care and attention, and that, therefore, they were not entitled to any protection under’ Section 16, Succession Certificate Act, and dismissed the appeal. The present civil revision petition has been filed against the District Judge’s order dismissing the appeal.

3. There can be no doubt that if the payment is question was made by the petitioner in good faith, then they are not bound to make any payment now to the plaintiff. “Good faith'” is defined in,’ the General Clauses Act as follows:

A thing shall be deemed to be done in ” good faith ” where it is. in fact done honestly, whether it is done negligently or not.

4. In this case it is-clear that the payment was made by the Railway Company honestly. The learned District Munsif again and again refers to this fact in his judgment. Even if the payment was made without due care and caution, still if it was made ” honestly ” it will be payment ” in good faith. ” The learned Judge has overlooked the definition of the term “good faith ” in the General Clauses Act. In the circumstances, therefore, it follows that the payment having been made “honestly” though it may have been made a little negligently it cannot be said that it was not made in good faith. The petitioner can claim immunity under Section 16, Act 7, 1889, read with Section 3, Provident Funds Act.

5. I am greatly troubled by the question whether I should interfere in this case under Section 115, Civil P.C., for, prima facie the question, whether a party acted in good faith is a question of fact and Courts generally are reluctant to interfere on questions of fact under Section 115, Civil P.C. But if the conclusion on a question of fact is arrived at by overlooking a clear provision of law, then such a finding I think can be interfered with under Section 115, Civil P.C., on the ground that it is a perverse one. The authority for this position may be found in Venhatachalam Pattar v. Parasu Pattar [1914] 16 M.L.T. 156 In these circumstances I ‘have to set aside the order of the Courts below and the result is that the plaintiff’s suit is dismissed so far as the present petition is concerned with costs throughout.

6. As this petition was originally filed as a second appeal and the Court-fee was paid on that basis, and as it was subsequently filed as a civil revision petition, the petitioner is entitled to the return of the difference in the Court-fee amount.

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