STATE OF WEST BENGAL vs BK MONDAL AND SONS Case Summary (1962 SC)

STATE OF WEST BENGAL vs BK MONDAL AND SONS Case Summary (1962 SC)

STATE OF WEST BENGAL vs BK MONDAL AND SONS Case deals with the concept of Quasi-contracts. Chapter V of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, defines this type of contract. These types of contracts are defined to be as when one person enjoys the benefit of something but does not pay for it or the other person might bear the burden of it. Quasi-contracts are defined under Sections 68 to 72 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

BENCH

Honorable Justice B. Gajendragadkar

Honorable Justice K. Sarka

Honorable Justice N. Wanchoo

Honorable Justice C. Das Gupta

Honorable Justice Rajagopala Ayyanga

DATE OF JUDGMENT

5th December 1961

RELEVANT SECTION

Section 68, 69, 70 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872

FACTS OF THE CASE

  • On 8th February 1944 respondent, i.e. BK Mondal & Sons, put up a certain offer for temporary storage godowns in the District of Hooghly at Arambagh for the use of the Civil Supplies Department of the State of Bengal.
  • The department accepted this sale offer through a letter dated 12th February 1944. The respondent completed the said construction accordingly for a bill of Rs. 39,476/- which was duly paid in July 1944.
  • Thereafter, the Sub-Divisional Officer, Arambagh, requested the respondent for submitting an estimation for the construction of a kutcha road, guard room, kitchen, office, and room for clerks at Arambagh for the Department of Civil Supplies.
  • Further, it was alleged by the respondent that the Additional Deputy Director of Civil Supplies visited the Arambagh on 20th April 1944 and instructed the respondent to proceed according to the construction as submitted in its estimate. That the respondent completed the said construction accordingly and a bill of Rs. 23,228/- was submitted on the behalf of the Assistant Director of Civil Supplies.
  • Afterward, the Sub-Divisional Officer, Arambagh, needed construction for certain storage sheds at Khanakul and the Assistant Director of Civil Supplies wrote to the respondent on 18th April 1944, asking it to proceed with the construction of storage sheds accordingly. The said work was completed by the respondent in due course on a bill of Rs. 17,003/- was also submitted.
  • Thereafter, the respondent claimed that the two bills of Rs. 23,228/- and Rs. 17,003/- remained unpaid, respectively.

ISSUES PRESENTED BEFORE THE COURT

  • Whether the plaintiff can claim under section 70 of Indian Contract Act, 1872?
  • Whether there was any contract between plaintiff and respondent for building a warehouse and contrary to section 175(3)?

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CONTENTIONS BY THE PARTIES

Appellant- The appellants i.e. STATE OF WEST BENGAL alleged that the request of the respondent regarding the claims for several constructions was invalid and unauthorized did not make up a valid contract binding the appellant under section 175(3) of the Government of India Act, 1935. It also pleaded that there was no privity of contract between the respondent and itself and denied its liability for the entire claim.

Respondent- The Respondents i.e. BK Mondal & Sons contended the appellant has enjoyed the work which was done and it is the voluntary acceptance and enjoyment of the said work, which causes action for the claim. It also contended that statement filed by the appellant was vague and the appellant had set no specific pleas out in its pleading.

RATIO DECIDENDI OF CASE

The Court observed that before invoking section 70 under Contract Act, it must satisfy the three conditions i.e.

First, that the person should lawfully do something for another person or deliver something to him,

Second, is that in doing the said thing or delivering the said thing, he must not intend to act gratuitously?

Third, that the other person for whom something is done or to whom something is delivered must enjoy the benefit thereof.

Taking the facts in the case Court stated that after the respondent constructed the warehouse, it was open to the appellant to refuse the acceptance of the said warehouse and to have the benefit of it. If the appellant accepts the warehouse and enjoys it, then section 70 comes into play and they can invoke it.

The Honorable Justice B. Gajendragadkar said that government cannot take away the work except under a contract made in terms of section 175(3) of the Govt. of India Act. This section may forbid the Government to take work under a contract that is invalid, but it does not make it unlawful for the Government to take benefits of work done for it with no contract at all. In this present case, the Government needed the work immediately and we do not see how the Government can say that work was done unlawfully. Hence, we think that work was done lawfully.

INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872 (Bare Act) (Latest Edition)

DECISION

The High Court concluded that there was no valid contract between the respondent and plaintiff regarding section 175(3) for the construction of sheds at Arambagh and Khakul. He also held that claim was justifiable under section 70 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and also concluded that said limitation did not bar the claim. The State of West Bengal filed an appeal to Calcutta High Court for disputed and correctness of the above-said decree. Therefore, said appeal was dismissed and High Court confirms the said decree in favor of the respondent.

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