Report No. 3
72. Articles 30 & 31.-
Article 30 is for a suit against a carrier for loss of or injury to goods and the cause of action accrues when the loss or injury occurs. The period of limitation is one year. Article 31 is for a suit against a carrier for compensation for non-delivery of, or delay in delivering, goods and the cause of action arises when the goods ought to be delivered, the period of limitation being one year. The liability of a common carrier not being a railway owned by the State or by a private person is governed by the English common law as modified by the Carriers Act, 1865. His liability is to some extent affected by the Contract Act which was enacted subsequently.
This was settled by the Privy Council in Irrawady Flottilla Co. v. Bhagwan Das, 18 Cal 620 The liability of a railway is, however, governed by section 72 of the Indian Railways Act, which expressly negatives the application of the English Common law and the Carriers Act (III of 1865). Though by the definition of a common carrier in section 2 of the Carriers Act, a State owned railway is excluded from the purview of the Act, Articles 30 and 31 are applied to all carriers whether common carriers or State-owned railways or privately-owned railways. The language of the Articles clearly indicates that they apply to suits based on contract as well as on tort.
The cause of action accrues on and coincides with the time indicated in the third column of the Ist Schedule to the Limitation Act. If the same period is prescribed for suits founded on contract as well as tort much of the discussion relating to the basis of the suit, as to whether it is founded on contract or on tort, would become unnecessary. The period of one year is undoubtedly too short and should be made three years. In the case of railways, it is common knowledge that a long time is spent by the consignee in correspondence with the railway authorities and it is only after a long-drawn correspondence that the aggrieved party files a suit. The Carriage by Air Act (XX of 1934) by rule 29 of the First Schedule provides that the right for damages for non-delivery of goods shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within two years from the date of arrival at the destination or from the date when the air-craft ought to have arrived.
This rule is based on international conventions and should not be altered. Article 8 of the First Schedule to the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (XXVI of 1925) provides that the provision in the rules shall not affect the rights and obligations of the carrier under any statute for the time being in force relating to limitation of the liability of owners of sea-going vessels. This provision also need not be altered.