INTERNAL ASSIGNMENT ON LEGAL REASONING SKILLS
State of Rajasthan vs. Vidhyawati and Kasturilal vs. State of U.P.
N. NAGENDRA RAO AND COMPANY VS. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH – In this case, the appellant carried on the business in fertilizer and food grains. Huge stocks of food grains, fertilizers and other commodities were seized by police authorities. The appellant represented to the state authorities several times that fertilizer be sold otherwise it would become useless. No steps were taken by the authorities to do the needful. At last, the stocks seized were released as the appellant was found to be not guilty of any breach of law. But the appellant refused to take delivery of the stock because of deterioration in quality. He filed a suit to recover the price of the stock by the way of compensation. In this case the Supreme Court has held that when due to the negligent act of the officers of State a citizen suffers any damage the State will be liable to pay compensation and the principle of sovereign immunity of State will not absolve him from this liability. The court held that in the context of modern concept of sovereignty the doctrine of sovereign immunity stands diluted and the distinction between sovereign and non-sovereign functions no longer exists. The Court noted the dissatisfactory condition of the law in this regard and suggested for enacting appropriate legislation to remove the uncertainty in this area. The Supreme Court held that the State was liable vicariously for the negligence committed by its officers in discharge of public duty conferred on them under a statute. As regards the immunity of State on the ground of sovereign function, the Court held that the traditional concept of sovereignty has undergone a considerable change in the modern times and the line of distinction between sovereign and non-sovereign powers no longer survives. No civilized system can permit an executive as it is sovereign. The concept of public interest has changed with structural change in the society. No legal system can place the State above law as it is unjust and unfair for a citizen to be deprived of his property illegally by negligent act of officers of the State without remedy. The need of the State to have extraordinary powers cannot be doubted. But it cannot be claimed that the claim of the common man be thrown out merely because the act was done by its officer even though it was against law and negligence. Need of the State, duty of its officials and right of the citizens are required to be reconciled so that the rule of law in a welfare State is not shaken. In a welfare State, functions of the State are not only defense of the country or administration of justice or maintaining law and order but it extends to regulating and controlling the activities of the people in almost every sphere, educational, commercial, social, economic, political and even marital. The demarcating between sovereign and non-sovereign powers for which no rational basis survives has largely disappeared. Therefore, barring functions such as administration of justice, maintenance of law and order and repression of crime etc. which are among the primary and unalienable functions of a constitutional Government, the State cannot claim any immunity. The Court observed that Sovereignty now vests in the people. The legislature, the executive and the judiciary have been created and constituted to serve the people. STATE OF RAJASTHAN VS. VIDHYAWATI -
The driver of a jeep owned and maintained by the State of Rajasthan for the official use of the Collector of a district, drove it rashly and negligently while bringing it back from the workshop after repairs and knocked down a pedestrian and fatally injured him. As a result of the injuries the pedestrian died. His widow sued the State of Rajasthan for damages. The Supreme Court held that the state was vicariously liable for the negligence of...
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