Case Analysis

Kasturi Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh [AIR 1965]

By Ashlesha Suryawanshi (MNLU Mumbai)

Appellant – Kasturilal Ralia Ram Jain

Respondent– The State of Uttar Pradesh

Facts

Ralia Ram was one of its partners of a firm which dealt in bullion and other goods at Amritsar. It was duly registered under the Indian partnership act.

On the 20th of September 1947 Ralia Ram arrived at Meerut by frontier mail to sell gold, silver and other goods in Meerut Market. While he was passing through Bazaar with his goods, he was taken into custody by three police constables. In the kotwali police station, he was detained in lock-up and his belonging was seized and kept him in police custody. After some time he was released by police and his silver seized from him was returned to him but he could not recover the gold from a police officer. Then he filed the suit against respondent in which he claims for his gold or in alternative its value should be ordered to be paid to him.

Issue

1) Whether the change of Negligence by a police officer succeeded?

2) Whether the state government liable for Negligence act by its servants?

Judgement

In this case, the court held that the act of negligence was committed by police officers while dealing with the property which they had seized in the exercise of their statutory power. Now the power to arrest, to seize, is the powers conferred by the statue and in last analysis, they are powers which can be properly categorized as sovereign powers so the claim cannot be a substitute. Therefore the state is not liable.

Analysis

In this case, officers engage with the sovereign function of the state so they can not be claimed against the loss suffered by the appellant due to negligence of police. The concept of sovereign immunity lies in this case. A sovereign function is referred to as the function authorized by the statue. Example- Functions of the army, powers enjoyed by the police etc. So under the doctrine of sovereign immunity state Cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from any civil suit or criminal prosecution. And so, the court has no power to hold them accountable for any tortious act by servants.

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