Rajkot Municipal Corporation v Manjulben Jayantilal Nakum Case Summary 1997 SC

Rajkot Municipal Corporation v. Manjulben Jayantilal Nakum 1997 SC

In the Rajkot Municipal Corporation v Manjulben Jayantilal Nakum case, the Court held that if the claim depends upon proof of the contract, there will be no action in tort. If the claim arises from the relationship between the parties, independent of the contract, an action would lie in tort at the option of the plaintiff, although he might alternatively have pleaded in the contract.

Background:

Rajkot Municipal Corp.(appellant in this appeal) was held liable for negligence which resulted in the death of Jayantilal respondents’ husband and father in this appeal).

Facts:

1. Jayantilal, while commuting to his office through a footpath, died because of the sudden fall of a roadside tree on him. Respondents sued for damages of 1 lac from the Corporation (appellant herein).

2. Trial court held Corporation to be liable for the death of Jayantilal as they failed in the statutory duty to check the healthy condition of the tree and decreed 45k/-.

3. Corp filed an appeal in HC. Division Bench also held the Corp. liable as the statutory duty to maintain trees gives rise to TORTIOUS LIABILITY on the corporation and was guilty of negligence in not taking the care to protect the life of the deceased. The corporation failed to periodically examine the condition of trees.

4. Thus, Corporation filed this appeal by special leave.

Contention:

1. HC is wrong in its conclusion that the corporation is having unqualified and absolute duty to maintain trees. It was reasonably not possible to inspect every tree for good condition, and it could not foresee that a tree would fall suddenly when Jayantilal was passing.

2. There is no reasonable proximity between the duty of care and doctrine of the neighborhood as laid down in Donoghue vs. Stevenson.

Legal Issue:

When the claim depends upon proof of the contract, there will there be any action in tort?

Ratio: Justice K Ramaswamy

1. Appeal allowed but directed the Corporation not to recover 45k/- as the respondent were poor.

2. Causation was too remote as it was difficult to reasonably anticipate by ordinary prudent man, to foresee injury because of causation or omission on the part of the defendant in the performance or negligence in the performance of the duty.

3. In this case, the neighbor relationship and proximity of causation for negligence were not satisfactorily proven by the respondent.

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Om Ram

Om Ram

Om Ram is currently a 2nd-year LL.B. student at Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. Previously he did Life Sciences from SVC, Delhi University. He shows his life journey by making Legal Vlogs on a YouTube channel named 'Om Ram'. He has interests in Law, Science & Film making. Some of his notable work related to photography and other interests can be seen on his Instagram. He also has a channel named 'Law Planet' where he along with his sister makes videos to make people aware of laws and their rights.
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