Transcription No. 35 (Contractual Disputes Even After Final Bill Acceptance)

                  On going through the entire materials including the oral and documentary evidence led in by both the parties and the judgment and decree of the trial Judge, we are unable to accept the only reasoning of the High Court in non-suiting the plaintiff. It is true that when the final bill was submitted, the plaintiff had accepted the amount as mentioned in the final bill but “under protest”. It is also the specific claim of the plaintiff that on the direction of the Department, it had performed additional work and hence entitled for additional amount or damages as per the terms of agreement. Merely because the plaintiff had accepted the final bill, it cannot be deprived of its right to claim damages if it had incurred additional amount and able to prove the same by acceptable materials. Before going into the factual matrix on this aspect, it is useful to refer the decisions of this Court relied on by Mr. Altaf Ahmed. in the case of Chairman and MD, NTPC Ltd. vs. Reshmi Constructions, Builders & Contractors, (2004) 2 SSC 663, which relates to termination of a contract, one of the questions that arose for construction was “Whether after the contract comes to an end by completion of the contract work and acceptance of the final bill in full and final satisfaction and after issuance a ‘No Due Certificate’ by the contractor, can any party to the contract raise any dispute for reference to arbitration? While answering the said issue this Court held:- Even when rights and obligations of the parties are worked out, the contract does not come to an end inter alia for the purpose of determination of the disputes arising thereunder, and, thus, the arbitration agreement can be invoked. Although it may not be strictly in place but we cannot shut our eyes to the ground reality that in a case where a contractor has made huge investment, he cannot afford not to take from the employer the amount under the bills, for various reasons which may include discharge of his liability towards the banks, financial institutions and other persons. In such a situation, the public sector undertakings would have an upper hand. They would not ordinarily release the money unless a “No-Demand Certificate” is signed. Each case, therefore, is required to be considered on its own facts. Further, necessitates non habet legem is an age-old maxim which means necessity knows no law. A person may sometimes have to succumb to the pressure of the other party to the bargain who is in a stronger position.” A glance at the said clause will immediately indicate that a no-claim certificate is required to be submitted by a contractor once the works are finally measured up. In the instant case the work was yet to be completed and there is nothing to indicate that the works, as undertaken by the contractor, had been finally measured and on the basis of the same a no-claim certificate had been issued by the appellant. On the other hand, even the first arbitrator, who had been appointed, had come to a finding that no-claim certificate had been given under coercion and duress. It is the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court which, for the first time, came to a conclusion that such no-claim certificate had not been submitted under coercion and duress. The High Court conjectured that the age of the prosecutrix could be even 19 years. This appears to have been done by adding two years to the age opined by PW-1. There is no such rule much less an absolute one that two years have to be added to the age determined by a doctor. In the instant case, the brother of the prosecutrix has been examined as PW-1-and, therefore, it cannot be said that best evidence has been withheld. The High Court fell in grave error in observing that the prosecutrix could be even 19 years of age at the time of alleged occurrence. As regards clause ‘Firstly’, or clause ‘Secondly’ of section 375 IPC, the expressions ‘against her will’ and ‘without her consent’ may overlap sometimes but surely the two expressions in clause ‘Firstly’ and clause ‘Secondly’ have different connotation and dimension. The expression ‘against her will’ would ordinarily mean that the intercourse was done by a man with a woman despite her resistance and opposition. On the other hand, the expression ‘without her consent’ would comprehend an act of reason accompanied by deliberation. The concept of consent’ in the context of section 375 IPC has to be read with section 90 of the IPC. (800)

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