[Case Brief] Ram Gulam v/s State of Uttar Pradesh – Allahabad High Court

Case NameRam Gulam v/s State of Uttar Pradesh
CitationAIR 1950 All 206
CourtAllahabad High Court
BenchJustice Seth
Decided OnAugust 22, 1949
Author of the Case BriefUniqua Singh

Brief Facts and Procedural History-

In the present case, certain ornaments of the plaintiff were stolen. When police made a search then ornaments were found in another house and it seized the ornaments as stolen property as per the powers conferred by the code of civil procedure. The seized property was produced as evidence at the time of the trial of the person who was alleged to be a thief. Then the property was kept in collectorate Malkhana but from there also the ornaments got stolen and were untraceable. A suit was instituted by the plaintiff against the government of U.P for the restoration of the ornaments and an alternative remedy as compensation.

The suit was dismissed on the ground that government is not liable to compensate for the loss of the ornaments.

Issues before the court-

  1. Whether the government was liable to indemnify for the loss caused to the plaintiff as it was holding the seized property at the time of theft?
  2. Whether the government was liable to compensate the plaintiff for the negligence of its servants on the basis of the rule “a master is liable for the act of his servants”?

The ratio of the Judge-

The government was holding the property not as a bailee, but for the fulfillment of the duty imposed by law. The duty of bailee is a contractual duty but there was no such contract between the parties. Hence the government is not liable to indemnify the plaintiff for the loss caused.

Considering the second issue, the government was only discharging the duty imposed by law, therefore it is not liable for the act, alleging to be tortuous.

The decision as given by the court-

Thus the suit was dismissed on the ground that government is not liable for the act of its servant because the act was just the performance of the obligation imposed by the law and, therefore, not liable to compensate for the loss of ornaments.