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UOI v. Mohd. Nazim, AIR 1980 SC 431.

(Agency) Facts: The respondent (plaintiff) had sent certain parcels by VPP to a destination in Pakistan. The articles reached Pakistan. They were to be delivered to the addressee and their value was collected. The Gvt. of Pakistan, having snapped the postal treaty with Gvt. of India, did not forward the amount. The Indian Post Office could not pay to the sender. The sender (respondent) sued the Union of India (Post and Telegraph Department. 2 important provisions of the Indian Postal Office Article, 1898: Sec 34: It absolves the Central Gvt. from any liability in respect of the sum due from it by any sender, unless and until that sum has been received from the addressee. Sec 102: It sets out a limitation period within which a suit for the recovery of sum due could be filed, which is 1 year from the date of posting of article. Procedural History: 1) Trial Court ruled in favour of the UOI 2) The first court of appeal revised the judgement of the trial court and ruled in favour of the plaintiff. 3) The High Court also ruled in favour of the plaintiff on grounds that the Gvt. of India, while dealing with the plaintiffs mails, was acting as an agent of the Plaintiff and that the Gvt. of Pakistan was a sub-agent of UOI in the same transaction. Issues: 1) Does the post office when it accepts a postal article for transmission act as an agent of the sender of the article? 2) Is the Gvt. of Pakistan acting as a sub-agent to the Gvt. of India in this transaction? Holdings: Judgement of the High Court is set aside. The decree is in favour of UOI. Ratio: 1) It is not possible for the Indian postal authorities to reach the postal articles to addressees in Pakistan without any bilateral agreement between them . When two sovereign powers enter into an agreement, neither of them can be described as an agent of the other. 2) Sub Agent is defined under section 191 of the Indian Contract Article, 1872 as "a person employed by, and acting under the control of, the original agent in the business of the agency". Under the arrangement entered into between the two sovereign powers, Union of India and Pakistan neither could be said to be employed by or acting under the control of the other. 3) Pakistan Administration decided to suspend the V.P. service temporarily (due to some tension between the 2 countries) and did not make over the money realised from the addressees. Under Sec 34 of Indian Postal Office Article, 1898 the Gvt. of India therefore cannot be held liable.