Lalman Shukla V Gauri Dutt
(1913) 11 ALJ 489
Citation : (1913) 11 ALJ 489
Date of Decision : 11 April 1913
Judges : Justice Banerjee
Plaintiff : Lalman Shukla
Defendant : Gauri Dutt
The nephew of Gauri Dutt (defendant) had absconded from home. Gauri Dutt then sent his muni who is Lalman Shukla (plaintiff) to Haridwar along with money for his travel expenses. Gauri Dutts nephew was not traceable for quite some time. hence, Gauri Dutt then advertised that a reward of Rs.501 would be paid to the person who would find his nephew.
Eventually, Lalman Shukla found Gauri Dutts nephew at Rishikesh and then wired Gauri Dutt about it and then he went to Rishikesh and brought his nephew back. Lalman Shukla was rewarded with two sovereigns and later Gauri Dutt gave Lalman Shukla Rs.20. Lalman Shukla did not ask for any other further payment and continued in his service for another six months.
After Lalman Shuklas dismissal from service he filed a suit for recovery of reward offered by public advertisement, alleging that Gauri Dutt had promised to pay him the amount of reward in addition to the other gifts and travelling expenses when he was sent to Haridwar. The application arose out of this.
Whether the plaintiff is entitled to the reward amount?
Contention of the Plaintiff
Lalman Shukla strongly affirmed on his point that his performance of finding the missing boy all by himself is sufficient enough for him to be entitled to get the reward. He said that according to Gauri Dutts condition of whoever finds his nephew and brings him back, will get the reward and as per the condition the plaintiff had traced the boy and brought him back so he is entitled to the award declared.
Lalman Shukla stated that it is not important to have prior knowledge under this circumstance about the reward which was associated with it. He also put emphasis on the fact that Section 8 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 which states that the performance of the act or the acceptance of any consideration of a proposal is an acceptance of the proposal. In the present case the condition as stated by the defendant was that whoever will find the missing boy will be rewarded Rs.501.
As per it the plaintiff had performed the act so he is claiming for his reward from the defendant. He stated it immaterial that it is not necessary that the person who has performed the act must have the knowledge of it. According to Lalman Shukla he has found the missing boy hence he has the right to get the reward.
Contention of the Defendant
Gauri Dutt asserted and strongly stated his points by saying that first and foremost the plaintiff was not aware of the offer made, he had no knowledge of it. Hence, an offer without the knowledge of the offeree or the promise cannot be accepted and as well there was no possibility by the plaintiff to accept the offer without even having the knowledge of the fact. The defendant stated according to Section 2(a) of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 when one person signifies to other person his desire or willingness to do or to not do something intending to obtain the assent of that person.
Therefore, to such an act Lalman Shukla is said to make an proposal. Section 2(b) states that the person to whom the offer is being made signifies his willingness then it is said that the proposal is accepted. Acceptance is essential in order to create a contract between both the parties which means before accepting the offer the offeree must have the complete knowledge about the facts in order to give his assent or approval but in the present case the plaintiff was completely unaware of the reward which was associated with it.
Whilst searching for the missing nephew the plaintiff Lalman Shukla was merely performing his duty as a servant, he was working as a servant and it was his duty to trace and find the missing nephew and for that purpose he was sent from kanpur to Haridwar. There was no acceptance hence there was no agreement which can be said to be enforceable by law according to Section 2(h). Without the knowledge of the offer before accepting a valid contract cannot be created between both the parties.
Lalman Shukla came to know about the reward after it was declared by the defendant as a result the plaintiff had no possibility to accept the offer. Hence, according to Gauri Dutt, Lalman Shukla was not entitled to get the reward and therefore he cannot claim it. There did not exist a contract between Gauri Dutt and Lalman Shukla.
Hence, Lalman Shukla can not claim the reward. Gauri Dutt argued by citing the case of Fitch V Snedaker in this case fitch had given information about the murderer and then claimed for the reward after getting to know about it from snedaker. Fitch was not aware of the fact that there was a reward therefore he was not entitled to claim it.
The plaintiff Lalman Shukla was in the service of the defendant Gauri Dutt, Lalman Shukla was sent to search for the missing nephew as a part of his obligation. Therefore, it could not be said that performance of the act was consideration for defendants promise. In order to constitute a contract firstly there must be an acceptance of the offer and there can be no acceptance unless there is knowledge of the offer.
The plaintiff Lalman Shukla was under obligation to do what he did. Therefore, not entitled to recover the reward. Hence, the revision application was dismissed.