[Case Brief] Town Area Committee and Ors. Vs. Prabhu Dayal and Ors.

A legal act, though motivated by malice, will not make the actor liable to pay damages.

Case name:Town Area Committee and Ors. Vs. Prabhu Dayal and Ors..
Case number:Second Appeal No. 4297 of 1965
Bench:Hari Swarup, J.
Decided on:12.07.1974
Relevant Act/Sections:Sections 9 and 100 of Code of Civil Procedure,1908, U.P. Municipalities Act,1916 and Provincial Small Cause Courts Act,1887
  • The plaintiff had made constructions of 16 shoos on the old foundations of the building known as Garhi and the defendants Town Area Committee acting through its Chairman and Vice-Chairman, who are defendants 2 and 3 demolished these constructions.
  • The trial Court held that the plaintiff had made constructions without complying with the requirements of Section 178 and obtaining sanction as required under Section 180 of the Act. It also found that the provisions had been made applicable to the town area and in the absence of necessary sanction the Board had a right to demolish the constructions. On these findings the trial Court dismissed the suit.
  • Plaintiff went up in appeal. The appeal was allowed by the first appellate Court and suit was decreed against defendants. Nos. 1 to 3. The claim was however, dismissed as against defendant No, 4, i. e. the State of U. P. The first appellate Court held that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman had acted with malicious intention in ordering the demolition of the building. It held that the order of the District Magistrate could not legalise the demolition because the notice had not given reasonable time to the plaintiff to demolish the constructions. Defendants Nos. 1, 2 and 3 -have now come UD in appeal.
  • Whether the no second appeal would lie in view of Section 102, Civil Procedure Code?
  • Whether the demolition by the respondents in the present matter was legal?
  • Whether the actor indulging in a legal act though motivated by malice, be made liable for any damages?
  • A preliminary objection has been, raised on behalf of the respondents to the effect that no appeal lies. Section 15 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act makes all suits cognizable by the Court of Small Causes except those which are specified in the second schedule. Clause 35 (j) of the second schedule is relevant for purposes of this case. According to him this exception applies only to such cases where the process is legal but the execution alone is illegal. This contention cannot be accepted as no such distinction can be read in Clause (j) of exception 35 of the second schedule. It is not understandable that the legislature will exclude a case where the process is legal and the execution alone is illegal from the cognizance of a Court of Small Causes, but will let a case where both the process and the execution are illegal cognizable by summary Court. The actual, damage in both such cases is suffered not by the issue of the legal process, but only by its execution. The suit in either case is of a similar nature and will be excluded from the cognizance of the Court of Small Causes. The second appeal will therefore lie. The preliminary objection is overruled.
  • The Hon’ble High Court observed that the lower appellate Court has completely misdirected itself. The claim was on the basis of damages caused to the plaintiff by an act of the defendants. The plaintiff can get compensation only if he proves to have suffered injury because of an illegal act of the defendant and not otherwise. Malice does not enter the scene at all. A legal act, though motivated by malice, will not make the actor liable to pay damages. Before the plaintiff can get any damages he must prove that he had suffered an injury. Law does not take into account all harms suffered by a person which caused no legal injury. Damage so done is called damnum sine injuria. Such a damage does not give the sufferer any right to get compensation.
  • According to learned counsel for the plaintiff, the demolition was not done in accordance with law as the notice did not give reasonable time, and hence the Municipal Board will be liable to pay damages. Had the plaintiff made a complaint that he had suffered a loss because the demolition was done the same day and he would not have suffered loss if greater time had been granted for demolishing the illegal constructions, that would have been a different matter. The case of the plaintiff, however, was that he had a right to maintain the building and the action of Board was bad because it was mala fide. In this plea the time factor ceases to be of any importance. The notice cannot in these circumstances be said to be such as to make the consequential action illegal.
  • Moreover, there is also no merit in the contention of the learned counsel that the plaintiff had suffered injuria by the act of the demolition of the building because he had a fundamental right to hold and enjoy the property even though it was constructed without prior sanction from the Municipal authorities. There is no right to enjoy property not legally obtained or constructed. A person has been given by law a right to construct a building, but that right is restricted by various enactments, one of which is the U. P. Municipalities Act.
  • As the plaintiff has failed to prove that he had suffered injuria in the legal sense, he is not entitled to set any compensation. The decree of the Court below cannot even though the plaintiff may have suffered damages, be sustained.
  • In the result, the appeal is allowed, the decree of the lower appellate Court is set aside and that of the trial Court restored. In the circumstances of the case parties will bear their own costs.

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