4 LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS ON THE LAW OF TORTS

BHIM SINGH V STATE OF J & K AND Ors, 22ND NOVEMBER, 1985, AIR 1986 SC 494, (1985) 4 SCC 677

  • FACTS: Bhim Singh was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. He was suspended from attending the assembly on the opening day of the Budget session, whose order of suspension stayed in the High Court till 9th September, 1985. He was on his way to Srinagar from Jammu, he was taken away by the police near a place called Qazi Kund at 3 am in the night. His wife, Jayamala asked the respondents to produce Bhim before the Court as he was unlawfully detained by the police officers. He was not produced before the Magistrate for four days and was kept in a police lock-up. There was no doctor to see him as well. He was finally produced before a Magistrate on the 14th. He filed an affidavit regarding this and his illegal detention.
  • There were counter affidavits also from the side of the police who stated that Bhim was involved in a case of inflammatory speech in the Parade Ground and therefore he was taken by the police. They had even produced a medical certificate in his case.
  • The police could not explain how they knew he would pass from Qazi Kund at that night or how he was to be escorted by the Senior Superintendent of Udhampur and his officers. Therefore, the Court came to a conclusion that since there was a meeting on the 11th, it was expected of him to pass on 10th from that area and they arrested him to prevent him from attending the session of the Legislative Assembly. Police Officers have a duty of care towards the citizens and such bizarre acts of lawlessness are not expected of them.
  • JUDGMENT: Therefore, the Court ordered that since he was no longer detained, there was no point of liberty. But, since his legal rights were violated by the custodians of law, he was entitled for a monetary compensation. So, the State of Jammu and Kashmir was ordered to give a sum of rupees 50,000 to the Registrar of the Court who would give it to Bhim Singh as a monetary compensation for his illegal detention.

DONOGHUE V STEVENSON 1932 S.C. (H.L.) 31, 1932 S.L.T 317, [1932] W.N. 139:

  • FACTS: In this case, a friend of Donoghue bought her a ginger beer from a café which she half drank. When she poured the remaining half in a tumbler, she could see remains of a snail in it which was not visible before as it was an opaque dark bottle. She was extremely shock and it caused her severe gastroenteritis after that. Therefore, she took her case to the House of Lords.
  • The main question in this case was that whether there was any contractual relationship between Donoghue and the manufacturer or did the manufacturer have any duty of care towards Donoghue.
  • That time the question of negligence only came into picture when there was a contractual relationship.
  • JUDGMENT: This judgment was given by a 3-2 majority by Lord Atkin in the House of Lords. It was held that the concept of negligence was different and separate in the Law of Torts. It was even held that there was no requirement for any contractual relationship to owe a duty of care to anybody. The manufacturer of any good, by default, owes a duty of care towards the consumer who uses his product. Therefore, in this case as well, the manufacturer of the ginger beer had a duty of care towards the consumer who consumed his product, like in this case, Donoghue and therefore he was liable for negligence in his part.

THE GLOUCESTER GRAMMAR SCHOOL CASE, (1410) YB 11 HEN IV:

  • FACTS: In this case, a dispute arose between the School and one of their teachers who is the defendant. Therefore, the defendant opened a rival school next to the school of the plaintiff. This caused a lot of monetary loss to the school of the plaintiff. Therefore, he filed a suit against the defendant for infringing his legal rights.
  • JUDGMENT: The Court observed that it is a case of Damnum Sine Injuria. In this case, there was only damages caused to the plaintiff by the actions of the defendant but his legal rights were not infringed. There can be damages awarded to the victim only in case of Injuria Sine Damnum which is when the legal rights of a person is infringed. It was not a case of Injuria Sine Damnum and therefore no damages were awarded to the plaintiff and his suit was dismissed.

PADMAVATI V DUGGANAIKA 1975 ACJ 222:

  • FACTS: The driver of the car who is one of the defendants in this case was taking his car to the petrol pump. On the way, two strangers took lift in his car. Suddenly, one of the bolts to the right wheel which fixed it to the axle gave way and therefore the jeep toppled. This led to serious injuries of the strangers and one of them even succumbed to the injuries. The plaintiff, who was the stranger who took the lift filed a case against the driver driving the vehicle and the owner of the vehicle who was his master for damages sustained in that accident.
  • JUDGEMENT: The Court stated that it was a case of Volenti Non Fit Injuria which means that if a person voluntarily, without any pressure on him does some act in which he knows there could be some danger, he has voluntarily agreed to bear the danger in case it happens. In such cases, the master or the servant cannot be held liable for any damages caused to the person because of any danger that he had voluntarily signed up for. Similarly, in this case, the strangers voluntarily took lift in the car knowing that there could be chances of accidents. So , in such a case, the driver driving the vehicle or his master cannot be held liable for anything that happens to the victim within the radius of foreseeable danger and in this case accident was definitely a foreseeable danger. So, the suit of the plaintiff was dismissed and the master or the servant was not held liable.

 

Submitted by: DRISHTI RATHI, Student ( CHRIST UNIVERSITY)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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