This case analysis has been done by Parul Sharma, pursuing BBA LLB from Centre for legal studies Gitarattan International Business School GGSIPU. In this case analysis, she is dealing with the case of the Municipal Board of Agra v. Ashrafi Lal.
Municipal Board of Agra v. Ashrafi Lal is one the cases of the legal maxim “Injuria Sine Damnum” which means that injury or loss or damage so caused to the plaintiff without suffering any physical injury or damage.
18th November 1921
The suit was brought against the Municipal Board of Agra. The plaintiff, who was a pleader, was a previous member of the Board, on which he said he sat from 1914 to 1916. Two lists were prepared by the officials of the Board under statutory authority, i.e., an electoral roll and a candidates’ list. An election was approaching in the year 1919, and the plaintiff had been a severe critic of the Municipal administration up to that time. He alleged, and on the matter, he was the best judge, that his criticism was such as to create resentment to himself personally among the members of the Board. He was a house owner and an occupier at Agra and didn’t deny that he was entitled to be on both the roll and the candidates’ list; indeed he was on both, and the revising authority, consisting of three members of the Board, passed the roll and the list on the 31st day of January 1919. As the result of what these persons did officially in the course of their business, or wrongly with intention in the course of their business, or as a result of the revengeful and malicious interference of some individual, either a member of the Board or an employee in the office of the Board, after the statutory sitting of the revised authority, the plaintiff’s name on the list was so put and his description so fabricated as to represent him to be somebody other than the person he was known to be. For example, on the candidates’ list (and if his description of himself is correct, it is as a candidate that he was most objectionable to the Board) he was described by his right name but with his wrong father, his wrong caste, and his wrong occupation, all three of which put against his name were those of the owner of the house and not of himself. This being so, the Nomination Officers who acted sometime between the 31st day of January and the 8th day of March had to reject his nomination, because the person who presented himself, at the nomination was not the son of the father in the candidates’ list. Therefore, the plaintiff brought this suit and asked for the correction of the list as a specific relief, claiming damages for the wrong done to him, and at some later stage of the suit adding the claim that because the electoral list or the candidates ‘list had been tampered with, the whole constitution of the Board was invalid.
Whether the corporation can be held liable?
Injuria Sine Damnum
Injuria Sine Damnum is a legal maxim, which means that injury or loss or damage so caused to the plaintiff without suffering any physical injury or damage. It is a Latin term, where ‘Injuria’ refers to injury ‘Sine’ refers to without and ‘Damnum’ refers to a property or any physical loss, therefore the term refers to ‘injury suffered without an actual loss’. Here, the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove the damages so suffered, he only has to prove that there is some legal damage suffered by him, that is the action so brought is actionable per se. Like for example, where A roams around B’s house without any justification then, in that case, there is a violation of the legal right of B and therefore this maxim is applicable.
This maxim is well explained in the case Ashby vs. White , where the plaintiff was a qualified voter at a parliamentary election, while the defendant who was a returning officer in election wrongfully refused to take a vote of the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff didn’t suffer any loss by such wrongful act as the candidate, he wants to vote on the election, the legal rights of the plaintiff were infringed and therefore the defendant was held liable.
Another leading case is of Bhim Singh vs. State of J. & K , here in this case the petitioner was an M.L.A. of J. & k. parliamentary assembly. While he was going to show up in the assembly session, the police there wrongfully arrested him. He was not even presented before the magistrate within the stipulated time. As a result, the person was wrongfully deprived of his legal right to attend the meeting and moreover his fundamental right i.e. art 21 of the constitution was also violated. It was held that the respondent was responsible, and he should give the petitioner Rs. 50,000.
In the case of Injuria Sine Damnum, the loss suffered is not any physical loss but due to the violation of legal right. Thereupon, damages received by the persecuted party is because of some kind of loss is being suffered, and hence the amount for damages are determined just to compensate the victim. The amount for compensation might even be Rs. 5. But, where the violation of a legal right is turned to mischievous and malicious act, the number of damages so fixed can be increased as done in case of Bhim Singh’s case.
The court accepted the principle of Ashby v/s White, i.e. injuria sine damnum, in which the Court held that the Defendant is liable to pay compensation because he has violated the legal right of the plaintiff to vote. Even though the plaintiff suffered no actual loss in term of money, or the candidate to whom the plaintiff was interested got elected, the defendant has committed a tort and therefore liable to pay compensation.
In this case, Walsh, J. stated “It is possibly desirable to say quite clearly, although it appears from what we have said already, that the ground on which the case was remanded, namely, the reconsideration of the issue as to whether the Board should be declared to be altogether invalid and improperly constituted because one of the names on its election list is wrongly entered, is one which no court ought to have entertained at all and which the lower court should disregard and strike out of the issues altogether”
Furthermore, he held that “It is necessary in the case of a public body to explain how the rule should be worked. In the first place, the contention already made by the Board’s counsel that there are too many papers is based upon a misunderstanding. It is not necessary to produce all the papers in the possession of the municipality, relating to the electoral roll and the candidates’ list, of any kind whatever. All that is required is to produce for inspection the documents relating to the entry of the plaintiff’s name on the candidates’ list and the electoral roll and every document, through whatever stage it has passed, relating to the plaintiff’s name, whether there has been any alteration, addition, or subtraction from the original entry in such rolls of the plaintiff’s name, and any correspondence between the members of the Board and the Executive Officer or Secretary or other official or clerk of the Board relating to the plaintiff’s name and the corrections or alterations made on the list relating to the plaintiff. It is not necessary to flood the court. It would be a breach of duty if the Executive Officer or the Secretary attempted to flood the court with a number of irrelevant documents. If anything has been destroyed or weeded out it must be included by the description in the affidavit in the class of documents which have been in the possession of the municipality. There must be no attempt to burke that clause, which has been put in the rule for good reason. If a document has been in their possession and is not now, its disappearance must be explained by an officer of the Board who knows what has become of it and why and when it was destroyed or removed, Lastly, following the ordinary practice in England with reference to a Municipal Corporation or limited company, the affidavit must be made on behalf of the Municipal Board by the Chairman or the Executive Officer, who making their affidavits jointly as such officers must swear that they have made all necessary inquiries of all employees in the Board with reference to the documents which they swear to in their affidavit, and if there is any document to which they make any objection, legally or otherwise, to produce, although it is relevant to this question, they must take their objection in the affidavit.”
 (1703) 2 LR 938.
 AIR 1986 SC 494.
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