[Case Brief] Union of India v/s Udho Ram and Sons – Supreme Court of India

Case NameUnion of India V/S Udho Ram and Sons
CitationAIR 1963 SC 422
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchJustice Raghubar Dayal, Justice JL Kapur, Justice KC Das Gupta
Author of the judgmentJustice Raghubar Dayal
Decided onMay 01, 1962
Relevant Act/Sections1) Indian Contracts Act, 1872- Section 151

2) Indian Railways Act - Section 72
Author of the casebriefUniqua Singh

Brief facts and procedural history-

A Merchant consigned some goods to the respondent. At Howrah-Burdwan link the goods were lost before reaching the destination. The respondent filed the suit against the railway authorities for the loss caused. The trial court dismissed the suit on the ground that the railway authorities took proper care of the goods but the reasons for the loss of goods were beyond the control of the authorities.

The respondent appealed in High Court against this order and the High Court reversed this order on the ground that there was no evidence proving the strength of the care taken by the railway authorities in keeping an eye on the goods.

The present suit is the appeal of Union of India in the Supreme Court of India.

Issues before the court-

  1. Whether the railway authorities were liable for the loss of the goods in transit?
  2. Whether the railway authorities were in the position of the bailee and liable to indemnify for the loss caused?

The ratio of the judge-

The railway authorities were liable to take proper care of the goods. They need to keep an eye on the goods especially at the station where the train stops and protect the goods from theft. But there was no such evidence which proves the strength of railway police to protect the goods. Therefore, the railway authorities were liable and it was their negligence that goods lost in the transit.

Concerning the second issue, the railway authorities were holding the goods as bailee and were bound to take due care of the goods as an ordinarily prudent man would take in the same situation and under the similar circumstances. Hence, the railway authorities were liable to compensate the aggrieved for the loss caused to him due to their negligence.

The decision of the Court-

The Supreme Court of India opined that the high court in reversing the decision of the trial court and considering the railway authorities as liable for the loss caused was justified.