Kalliaperumal Pillai v. Visalakshmi Achi

This case brief is written by Sanskriti Goel, a 1st-year law student from Chanderprabhu Jain College of Higher Studies and School of law, GGSIPU. 

EQUIVALENT CITATIONS

AIR 1984 Mad 32

DECIDED ON

13 August, 1937

BENCH

Varadachariar, J.

RELEVANT ACT/ SECTION

  • The Indian Contract Act, 1872 – Section 149

BRIEF FACTS

  • A lady employed a goldsmith for the purpose of melting old jewels and making new ones. Every evening, she used to receive the half-made jewelry from the goldsmith and put them in a locked box. 
  • She used to left the locked box in the goldsmith’s room and keep the key of the locked box herself. 
  • One night, the jewels were stolen. 
  • The lady sued the goldsmith holding him liable as bailee. 

LEGAL ISSUE

  • Was there any delivery as per Section 149 in order to constitute bailment? 

RATIO OF THE CASE

  • Mere leaving of a locked box in another person’s room, when the key of the box is not handed over to him does not amount to delivery within the meaning of section 149.
  • Without legal possession, there cannot be any bailment. 

DECISION OF THE MADRAS HIGH COURT

  • It was held that “Any bailment that could be gathered from the facts must be taken to have come to an end as soon as the plaintiff was put in the possession of the melted gold. Delivery is necessary to constitute bailment. The mere leaving of the box in the defendant’s house, when the plaintiff herself took away the key, cannot certainly amount to delivery within the meaning of the provision in section 149.”
  • Therefore, the goldsmith was not held liable as any bailment, in this case, came to an end when the lady received jewellery from the goldsmith every evening. Leaving the locked box in the premises of the defendant was not enough to constitute delivery under section 149, especially since the lady kept the keys with herself.
  • Without legal possession, there cannot be any bailment and there was no duty of the goldsmith to take care of the jewels. 

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