Bangle Stores Vs. Union of India & Ors  INSC 379
(6 December 1990)
Singh (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Ramaswamy, K.
1990 SCR Supl. (3) 457 1991 SCC (1) 448 JT 1990 (4) 614 1990 SCALE (2)1187
Railways Act: Sections 77-B--Suit for damages for loss of
goods--Limitation--Starting point of--Whether con- signor entitled to change
value of consigned goods.
appellant had booked a Rail-wagon for consignment of bangles from Ferozabad to Srikakulam
on June 3, 1964. He declared the value of the
consigned goods as Rs.25,000 The wagon loaded with the glass bangles met with
an accident on June 22,
1964 and was damaged.
An open assessment delivery of the goods was made to the appellant on September 4, 1964 at the destination. The appellant
found that more than half of the bangles were damaged.
appellant claimed damages of Rs.32869.87 on the ground that the actual value of
the bangles was Rs.56,837.04. The respondents contested the claim inter alia on
the ground that the appellant could not claim damages by enhancing the value of
goods. It was also contended that the suit having been filed beyond the period
of 3 years from the date of accident, when loss to the property occurred, the
same was barred by limitation under article 10 of the Limi- tation Act.
Trial Court held that counting the period of limita- tion from September 4, 1964, when the extent of loss to the
goods was known, the suit was within limitation. The Court however dismissed
the suit holding that the respondent was estopped from contending that the
value of goods was more than the declared amount of Rs.25,000.
High Court, in appeal, reversed the findings of the Trial Court on the point of
limitation as also on valuation.
High Court came to the conclusion that the appellant was entitled to claim the
value of the consigned goods as Rs.56,837.04 and the declaration regarding
value at the time of booking the consignment was of no consequence. The High
Court however dismissed the appeal on the ground that the suit was barred by
behalf of the appellant it was contended before this Court that 458 the
counting-point for the limitation purposes has to be September 4, 1964. On the other hand, it was
contended by the respondents that the appellant could not be permitted to go
back from the valuation of the goods which he declared at the time of booking
the appeal, this Court,
The High Court was not justified in relieving the railway administration of its
burden to establish that the damage to the goods occurred beyond three years
from the date of the suit. [460G] Union
of India v. Amar Singh,  2 S.C.R. 75
and Jetmull Bhojraj v. Darjeeling Himalyan Railway Company Limited,  2
S.C.R. 832, referred to.
The knowledge of the accident 'may have given rise to an assumption that the
goods were damaged in the accident but the burden of proving that the damage
occurred 3 years beyond the date of suit has to be discharged by the rail-
ways. There is no material on the record to show that the respondents have done
so. The High Court was not justified in relieving the railway administration of
its burden. The finding of the High Court on this issue is, therefore, set
The appellant should not be permitted to change the value of the consigned
goods at his convenience and to his advantage. The bills produced by the
appellant before the Trial Court to substantiate the value of the goods must be
in existence at the time of booking the consignment. There is no explanation
whatsoever as to why he declared Rs.25,000 as the value of goods at the time of
booking against his claim of Rs.56,837.04 at the trial. There is no equity in
the stand of the appellant. The rule of fairplay in action' demands that the
appellant be pinned-down to the valuation of the consigned goods declared by
him voluntarily. [463E-G] Chuni Lal v. Governor General, A.I.R. 1949 Mad 754, ap-