State of Rajasthan v Vidyawati Case Summary 1962

State of Rajasthan v Vidyawati Case Summary 1962

The State of Rajasthan v Vidyawati case dealt with the vicarious liability of the State when the employee did some tortious act. The court determined liability in these types of cases.


1. Driver of government jeep car of Collector of Udaipur while coming back from Repair Workshop knocked Vidhyawati’s (plaintiff-respondent) husband, who was walking on a footpath alongside a public road.

2. Vidyawati sued Driver (defendant 1) and State of Rajasthan (defendant 2-appellant herein) for the compensation of 25,000/-.

3. Trial court decreed ex-parte against defendant 1 and dismissed it against defendant 2(St of Raj). On appeal, HC decreed against the State of Rajasthan and awarded 15,000/- as compensation to the plaintiff.

3. State of Rajasthan reached this SC invoking Article 133(1)(c) of the Indian Constitution.

Contention & Issues:

(1)  Under Article 300 of the Constitution, the State of Rajasthan was not liable, as the corresponding Indian State would not have been liable if the case had arisen before the Constitution came into force.

(2) That the jeep car, the rash and negligent driving of which led to the claim in the suit, was being maintained “in the exercise of sovereign powers” and not as part of any commercial activity of the State.

Ratio & Decision:

1. CJ Sinha: The Court held that the liability of the State regarding the tortious act by its servant within the scope of his employment and functioning was like that of any other employer.

2. In India, ever since the time of the East India Company, the sovereign has been held liable to be sued in tort or in the contract. The Dominion of India, or any constituent Province of the Dominion, would have been liable in view of the Government of India Act, 1858. They presented no provision of the law that could help escape the Rajasthan Union from vicarious liability for the acts of its servants.

3. Constitution has established a welfare State with its varied industrial and other activities. Thus, there is no justification, in principle, or in the public interest, for the State not to be held liable vicariously for tortious acts of its servant.

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