Case Briefs
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Harbajan Lal V. Har Charan Lal(A Case of General Offer)

 


Author: Riya Verma, 1st year student at Hidayatullah National Law University.


 

Citation: AIR 1925 All 539

Date of Decision: 8 May, 1925

Bench: Edward Grimwood Mears

Original copy: N/A

Statute Involved: Indian Contract Act, 1872

 

Issues in Question:

  • Is the defendant’s offer generic in nature?
  • Was the plaintiff in substantial compliance with the contract’s terms?

Background of the Case:

  • On June 9th, 1924, a young kid named Ram Kishen, aged 13-14, ran away from his father’s home in Baheri. “Anyone who finds any trace of the youngster and returns him home will receive Rs. 500,” the father wrote in a pamphlet.
  • When Harbhajan Lal saw one of these pamphlets, he remembered the boy’s name. The plaintiff was at the Bareilly Junction Railway Station’s dharamshala on July 19th. When he saw the youngster, he sent a telegram to the boy’s father informing him that he had located his son.
  • However, when the award was paid, the boy’s father claimed that the plaintiff was not entitled to a reward because he did not bring the boy to his home and did not comply with the conditions of the offer.

The Plaintiff’s Arguments:

  • The plaintiff claimed the reward, claiming that he had accepted the general offer and completed the necessary tasks.

The Defendant’s Arguments:

  • The defendant maintained that the plaintiff is not entitled to the award because he did not bring the youngster to him and, therefore, did not comply with the conditions to the offer.

Judgement:

  • CJ Mears said, “The plaintiff, in my perspective, substantially satisfied the contract’s conditions.” The handbill was an offer that was available to the entire world and could be accepted by anybody who met the conditions. It is believed that the plaintiff significantly fulfilled the criterion, and that the Small Cause Court’s decision is highly contrived. In these circumstances, the decision must be overturned, and a decree in favour of the plaintiff for Rs. 500 plus costs must be entered. The pamphlet, according to the Court, was an open offer to the entire world, susceptible of acceptance by anybody who met the conditions.
  • Despite the fact that the reward requirement was not strictly followed, the plaintiff was aware of the incentive and essentially fulfilled the condition, making him entitled to the sum offered.

Critical Analysis:

  • This is a case in which acceptance was made by fulfilling the proposal’s condition, which was found to be lawful under Section 8 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.
  • This case can also be considered as a milestone case of a general offer because it was heard at Allahabad High Court, where the broad offer was correctly defined.
  • The case of Harbhajan Lal v Har Charan Lal aided in the comprehension of general offers and their acceptance.

           

  What is an offer?

  • Section 2 (a) [ICA] defines ‘offer’ as “when one person signifies to another his willingness to do or to abstain from doing something, with a view to obtaining the assent of that other to such act or abstinence, he is said to make a proposal;”
  • The most important aspects of a proposal:
  1. a) The offeror is the one who makes the offer.
  2. b) The offeror must indicate his or her desire to make the offer. Any member of the public has the right to accept the offer if it is made to the general public.

What is an Acceptance?

  • Acceptance by completing conditions or obtaining consideration (Section 8 of Indian Contract Act, 1872):

      The acceptance of a proposal is the performance of the proposal’s conditions, or the acceptance of any payment for a reciprocal commitment that may be made with a proposal.

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