Locus Standi of Consignee to sue

Locus standi of Consignee to sue.

Suit by consignor for damages from Railways —  A consignee is not necessarily the owner of the goods and merely because consignee is different, the title of goods cannot be presumed to have been passed to the consignee.

Ordinarily, it is the consignor who can sue if there is damage to the consignment, for the contract of carriage is between the consignor and the railway administration. Where the property in the goods carried has passed from the consignor to some-one-else, that other person may be able to sue.

It is true that a railway receipt is a document of title to goods covered by it, but from that alone it does not follow, where the consignor and consignee are different, that the consignee is necessarily the owner of goods and the consignor in such circumstances can never be the owner of the goods. The mere fact that the consignee is different from the consignor does not necessarily pass the title to the goods from the consignor to the consignee, and the question whether title to goods has passed to the consignee will have to be decided on other evidence. It is quite possible for the consignor to retain title in the goods himself while the consignment is booked in the name of another person.

It was contended that as an endorse to a document of title he was in any case entitled to maintain the suit. The trial court found on the evidence that it had been proved satisfactorily that Ishwara Nand was the owner of the goods. It also held that as an endorse of a document of title he was entitled to sue. These findings of the trial court on the evidence were accepted by the High Court in these words :-

“It was not contended before us that the finding arrived at by the learned court below that the plaintiff had the right to sue was wrong, nor could, in view of the overwhelming evidence, such an issue be raised. The evidence on the point has already been carefully analysed by the court below. We accept the finding and confirm it. It was also pointed out that Ishwara Nand was the endorsed consignee and in that capacity he had in any case a right to bring the suit. The correctness of this statement was not challenged before us.”

Thus there are concurrent findings of the two courts below that Ishwara Nand was the owner of the goods and that was why the railway receipt was endorsed in his favour. In these circumstances he is certainly entitled to maintain the suit. The contention that the plaintiffs in the two suits could not maintain them. must therefore be rejected.

[Source: Union of India v.  West Punjab Factories, Ltd., AIR 1966 SC 395: 1966(2) Audh LT 269: 1966(1) SCR 580]

Corruption: Locus standi of a private person.

Locus Standi of a private person to file complaint of corruption:

Complaint in respect of allegations of Prevention of corruption Act, 1988:

It is a well recognised principle of criminal jurisprudence that anyone can set or put the criminal law into motion except where the statute enacting or creating an offence indicates to the contrary. The scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure envisages two parallel and independent agencies for taking criminal offences to court. Even for the most serious offence of murder, it was not disputed that a private complaint can, not only be filed but can be entertained and proceeded with according to law.

Locus standi of the complainant is a concept foreign to criminal jurisprudence save and except that where the statute creating an offence provides for the eligibility of the complainant, by necessary implication the general principle gets excluded by such statutory provision. Numerous statutory provisions, can be referred to in support of this legal position such as:

(i) Section 187-A of Sea Customs Act, 1878
(ii) Section 97 of Gold Control Act, 1968
(iii) Section 6 of Import and Export Control Act, 1947
(iv) Section 271 and Section 279 of the Income Tax Act, 1961
(v) Section 61 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973,
(vi) Section 621 of the Companies Act, 1956 and
(vii) Section 77 of the Electricity Supply Act.

This list is only illustrative and not exhaustive. While Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure permits anyone to approach the Magistrate with a complaint, it does not prescribe any qualification the complainant is required to fulfil to be eligible to file a complaint. But where an eligibility criterion for a complainant is contemplated specific provisions have been made such as to be found in Sections 195 to 199 of the CrPC. These specific provisions clearly indicate that in the absence of any such statutory provision, a locus standi of a 24 complainant is a concept foreign to criminal jurisprudence. In other words, the principle that anyone can set or put the criminal law in motion remains intact unless contra-indicated by a statutory provision. This general principle of nearly universal application is founded on a policy that an offence i.e. an act or omission made punishable by any law for the time being in force is not merely an offence committed relation to the person who suffers harm but is also an offence against society. The society for its orderly and peaceful development is interested in the punishment of the offender. Therefore, prosecution for serious offences is undertaken in the name of the State representing the people which would exclude any element of private vendetta or vengeance. If such is the public policy underlying penal statutes, who brings an act or omission made punishable by law to the notice of the authority competent to deal with it, is immaterial and irrelevant unless the statute indicates to the contrary. Punishment of the offender in the interest of the society being one of the objects behind penal statutes enacted for larger good of the society, right to initiate proceedings cannot be whittled down, circumscribed or fettered by putting it into a strait- jacket formula of locus standi unknown to criminal jurisprudence, save and except specific statutory exception. To hold that such an exception exists that a private complaint for offences of corruption committed by public servant is not maintainable, the court would require an unambiguous statutory provision and a tangled web of argument for drawing a far fetched implication, cannot be a substitute for an express statutory provision.
The only conclusion that unquestionably emerges is that Section 5-A is a safeguard against investigation of offences committed by public servants, by petty or lower rank police officer. It has nothing to do directly or indirectly with the mode and method of taking cognizance of offences by the Court of Special Judge. It also follows as a necessary corollary that provision of Section 5-A is not a condition precedent to initiation of proceedings before the Special Judge who acquires power under Section 8(1) to take cognizance of offences enumerated in Section 6(1)(a) and (b), with this limitation alone that it shall not be upon commitment to him by the Magistrate.

[Source: A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, 1984 AIR SC 718, 1984 SCR (2) 914, (Supreme Court of India)]

The above observations were made in respect of Section 5-A of Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, which was similar to section 19 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and therefore were followed by Supreme Court of India under that Act, as well.

(See Subramanium Swamy vs. Manmohan Singh)


Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in United Kingdom.

Public Interest Litigation travels to United Kingdom.

Public Interest Litigation is a creation of Supreme Court of India which in 1970’s taking notice of various wrongs, especially the matters of illegal detention of prisoners in prisons in all over India. Later the Public Interest Litigation expanded to all other aspects of administration as well which hitherto-before were the matters in the exclusive domains of executive of Indian Government. It appears the erstwhile colonial masters could not resist the temptation of Public Interest Litigation, as well.

Public Interest Litigation, is a relaxation of rule of Locus Standi where by,
the absence of personal interest by the petitioner is over looked by Court.

It would, in my view, be a grave lacuna in our system of public law if a pressure group, like the federation, or even a public spirited taxpayer, were prevented by outdated technical rules of locus standi from bringing the matter to the attention of the court to vindicate the rule of law and get the unlawful conduct stopped. The Attorney General, although he occasionally applies for prerogative orders against public authorities that do not form part of central government, in practice never does so against government departments. It is not, in my view, a sufficient “answer to say that judicial review of the actions of officers or departments of central government is unnecessary because they are accountable to Parliament for the way in which they accountable to Parliament for the way in which they carry out their functions. They are accountable to Parliament for what they do so far as regards efficiency and policy, and of that Parliament is the only judge; they are responsible to a court of justice for the lawfulness of what they do, and of that the court is the only judge.

[Source: R v Inland Revenue Commissioners, ex parte National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses Ltd [1982] AC 617 (by Lord Diplock at 644E G,)]

“The first stage test, which is applied upon the application for leave, will lead to a refusal if the applicant has no interest whatsoever and is, in truth, no more than a meddlesome busybody. If, however, the application appears to be otherwise arguable and there is no other discretionary bar, such as dilatoriness on the part of the applicant, the applicant may expect to get leave to apply, leaving the test of interest or standing to be re applied as a matter of discretion on the hearing of the substantive application. At this second stage, the strength of the applicant’s interest is one of the factors to be weighed in the balance.”

[Source: (Sir John Donaldson in R v Monopolies and Mergers Commission, ex parte Argyll Group Plc [1986] 1 WLR 763. At 773H) which was followed in R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, (1995) 1 WLR 386]