FORBES FORBES CAMPBELL & CO. LTD. VERSUS BOARD OF TRUSTEES, PORT OF BOMBAY

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2134 OF 2006

 FORBES FORBES CAMPBELL & CO. LTD. …APPELLANT (S)

VERSUS

BOARD OF TRUSTEES, PORT OF BOMBAY …RESPONDENT (S)

The position of law which appears to emerge is that once the bill of lading is endorsed or the delivery order is issued it is the consignee or endorsee who would be liable to pay the demurrage charges and other dues of the Port Trust authority. In all other situations the contract of bailment is one between the Steamer Agent (bailor) and the Port Trust Authority (bailee) giving rise to the liability of the Steamer Agent for such charges till such time that the bill of lading is endorsed or delivery order is issued by the Steamer Agent. In the orders of the Calcutta High Court under challenge, it is mentioned that Section 60 of the Act provides a remedy to the Steamer Agent to recover the dues from the consignee. Section 60 of the Act of 1963 confers a limited lien on the ship owner “for freight and other charges payable to the ship owner” which expression does not extend to demurrage and other port charges. The High Court, therefore, does not appear to be correct in its conclusions. However, the said error would not be fundamental to the final conclusion reached by the High Court. In this regard we cannot help noticing the special provisions of Sections 61and 62 of the Act which enable the Port Trust authority to proceed against the goods within its custody to recover the charges which may be payable to the Port Trust authority. Ordinarily and in the normal course if resort is made to the enabling provisions in the Act of 1963 to proceed against the goods for recovery of the charges payable to the Port Trust authority there may not be any occasion for the said authority to sustain any loss or even suffer any shortfall of the dues payable to it so as to initiate recovery proceedings against the ship owners….read more