Case analysis:- Lalman Shukla V. Gauri Dutt

 THE CASE 

When the plaintiff's charges were dismissed by a lower court, the case of Lalman Shukla v. Gauri Dutt was brought before the Allahabad high court. The following were the facts of the case: The defendant's nephew ran away from home and was nowhere to be found. The defendant dispatched his employees to search for the boy; plaintiff was an employee of the defendant who was dispatched to Haridwar to search for the boy; the defendant paid plaintiff's travel expenses. When the plaintiff left town, the defendant advertised a reward of 501 rupees through handbills for anyone who could locate the boy. The complainant was able to track down the boy and travel to Rishikesh to retrieve him. He told the defendant that he had located the boy, and the defendant travelled to Rishikesh to return the boy to Kanpur. Plaintiff received a reward for finding the boy in Haridwar, as well as an additional 20 rupees when he returned to Kanpur. The plaintiff continued to work for the defendant for another six months without asking for any additional compensation, but when he was fired, he sued the defendant, alleging he was entitled to the payout declared by the defendant. The defendant's counsel contended that this is a contract argument, and that the plaintiff and defendant had no contract in this case, despite the fact that he already had an existing duty to the defendant to locate the child. On the other hand, the plaintiff's counsel contended that privity of contract is irrelevant in this case. 

 QUESTION BEFORE THE COURT

 • Is the plaintiff entitled to the award that the defendant has announced? 

• Is it true that the contract was validly accepted? 

• Whether the plaintiff finding the boy resulted in a contract?

 DECISON OF COURT 

 In this case the judges observed that the plaintiff was already obligated to look for the boy in his capacity as the defendant's servant, the judges concluded that this allegation cannot not be based on contracts. On the issue of acceptance of the contracts, the judges ruled that the appellant was unaware of the offer, and that there can be no acceptance without knowledge of the offer. Since he already had a duty to find the child, his act of locating him cannot be considered consideration for the pledge, so defendant received no new value from the promise. The plaintiff was found not entitled to the rewards because he was already a servant of the defendant and therefore had an ongoing obligation to the defendant. 

 RELEVANCE OF INDIAN CONTRACT ACT, 1872

 LEGAL PRINCIPLE REFERRED

 The defendant's handbill offer was a general offer; a general offer is offered to the general public rather than to a single individual, and the communication of a general offer is complete when any one member of the public is aware of the offer. in the current case the plaintiff did not have the knowledge that an offer was made as he left town before the offer was made so him finding out the boy cannot be considered as implied acceptance by performing conditions of offer which is defined under section 8 of the Indian contract act, 1872 because he had no knowledge of the offer so there cannot be any acceptance of the same. The term offer or a proposal as defined under section 2(a) of the Indian contract act, 1872 is “When one person signifies to another, his willingness to do or abstain from doing anything with a view to obtaining the assent of the other, to such an act or abstinence, he is said to make a proposal”. Acceptance to genral offers are usually implied acceptance which are defined under section 8 of the Indian contract act, 1872 “performance of the conditions of a proposal, of the acceptance of any consideration for a reciprocal promise which may be offered with a proposal, is an acceptance of proposal”. 

 PERSONAL COMMENTS

 This case was a watershed moment in contract law because it defined the principle that no bid can be accepted unless the offeree is aware of it. When this case was resolved, English law was silent on the subject, despite the fact that the principle of "no acceptance without knowledge of bid" was already in place in the United States. Since the scope of general offers is so broad, and 4 simply fulfilling the requirement is sufficient for acceptance, the principle agreed in this case that “there cannot be an acceptance without knowledge of an offer” places a cap on general offers, ensuring that only those who were aware of the offer before fulfilling the pledge can demand incentives. Plaintiff's original duty did not include looking for a child, but as soon as he was told by the defendant to do so, it became a part of his duty, and he was required to carry out that duty.