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Indian Case Summary

P. Seetharamayya vs G. Mahalakshmamma 1958 – Case Summary

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INTRODUCTION

This case is a clear one of damnum sine injuria. In this case the appellant asked for mandatory injunction to demolish the bunds and to fill in the trench on the defendants’ land, for permanent injunction against these defendants against putting up bunds or digging a trench, and for damages for the loss caused by flow of water.

Case Numbers

1933 and 1934 of 1953

Hon’ble Judges/Coram

Mohammed Ahmed Ansari, J.

Decided on

27.09.1957

Equivalent Citation

AIR 1958 AP 103, MANU/AP/0130/1957

Cases Referred

Nield v. N.W. Rly

Brief Facts and Procedural History

The parties to the appeals are owners of adjacent lands. The fifth defendant had constructed a bund on her land to preserve part of it from damage by flow of water through a breach in the embankment of the vagu. Defendants Nos.1 to 4 dug a trench to ward off water entering into their plot. These defendants further constructed another bund to the north of their and as additional safeguard.

The appellants’ case is that the fifth defendant on account of bitter enmity between her and the other defendants, put up bunds in her plot, and defendants Nos. 1 to 4 dug the trench as well as put up a bund to the north and the west of their plots; that thereby rain water falling on their plot flowed into appellants’ plot, completely washing variga and groundnut crops raised therein; which the appellants twice put up bunds along a length of 150 feet to the west of their plot to prevent the flow of rain water, but each time the bunds were washed away.

The appellant asked for mandatory injunction to demolish the bunds and to fill in the trench on the defendants’ land, for permanent injunction against these defendants against putting up bunds or digging a trench, and for damages for the loss caused by flow of water.

Issues Before the Court

  1. Can defendants protect their land from normal rain water?
  2. Can defendants protect their land from flood water?
  3. Whether any legal injury has been caused to the plaintiff?

Ratio of the Case

In this case it was urged before the court that there was no stream on the west of the defendant’s lands and, therefore, they have not the right of riparian owners in times of flood. But the finding of the Lower Appellate Court about there being a stream, was supported by the description given to the channel in the Commissioner’s plan.

The Case contends that the flood is a common enemy against which every man has a right to defend himself, and it would be mischievous if the law were otherwise, for a man must then stand by and see his property destroyed, out of fear lest dome neighbour might say ‘you have caused me an injury.’ 

However, there is a great distinction between protecting oneself from an apprehended danger and getting rid of the consequences of an injury which has actually occurred. The distinction was clearly marked in Whalley v. Lancashire and Yorkshire Ry. Co. [(1884) 13 QBD 131],

It was further contented that the right of protection against flood water should not be confused with the customary right of an agriculturist in this country It appears to us that in India, the right of an agriculturist to drain off into the lower lands the water brought into his land for ordinary agricultural operations is a customary right. He is entitled to do so by custom; otherwise, it will be impossible to carry out agricultural operations successfully.

It is further contented that no legal injury is caused to the plaintiff as the principal of damnum sine injuria prevails its states that injury which is being suffered by the plaintiff but there is no violation of any legal right of a person. In such circumstances, where there is no violation of the legal right of but the injury, or damage is being suffered by the plaintiff, the plaintiff can’t bring an action against the other for the same, as it is not actionable in law, unless there is some infringement of a legal right is present.

Decision of the Court

Therefore, this is a case of damnum sine injuria, and the plaintiff must adopt their own protective measures against the flood water”. In these circumstances, both the appeals fail, and are dismissed with costs throughout.