Recently a test of honesty was conducted by BANGALORE MIRROR and widely published in their edition dated 02/07/2010. For further details please read in the following link:-
The interesting part is not the half-baked HONESTY TEST conducted by the newspaper but the widely published story which has irretrievably maligned three persons who are imputed to have retained the wallet found at Koshy’s, Brigade Road, Forum Mall, in Bangalore, with an intention to thieve.
Let us examine the legal rights and liabilities of the FINDER OF THE GOODS. Firstly what should the Finder of the goods do, as per the Indian Laws? The relevant provisions of the Indian Contract Act are excerpted here below. A cursory reading of the provisions of the Act would certainly help us in the understanding of the RIGHTS, DUTIES and LIABILITIES of the Finder of the goods.
Section 71 of the Indian Contract Act 1872
A person who finds goods belonging to another, and takes them into his custody, is subject to the same responsibility as a bailee.
A “bailment” is the delivery of goods by one person to another for some purpose, upon a contract that they shall, when the purpose is accomplished, be returned or otherwise disposed of according to the directions of the person delivering them. The person delivering the goods is called the “bailor”. The person to whom they are delivered is called, the “bailee”.
Explanation -If a person already in possession of the goods of another contracts to hold them as a bailee, he thereby becomes the bailee, and the owner becomes the bailor of such goods, although they may not have been delivered by way of bailment.
In all cases of bailment the bailee is bound to take as much care of the goods bailed to him as a man of ordinary prudence would, under similar circumstances, take of his own goods of the same bulk, quality and value as the goods bailed.
The bailee, in the absence of any special contract, is not responsible for the loss, destruction or deterioration of the thing bailed, if he has taken the amount of care of it described in section 151.
The finder of goods has no right to sue the owner for compensation for trouble and expense voluntarily incurred by him to preserve the goods and to find out the owner; but he may retain the goods against the owner until he receives such compensation; and, where the owner has offered a specific reward for the return of goods lost, the finder may sue for such reward, and may retain the goods until he receives it.
BANGALORE MIRROR, by not only disclosing the names of the persons who had found the wallet but also printing the photographs of the persons, has imputed that all the three- one a male with his female friend in front of Koshy’s, another a driver of a Mercedes on Brigade road and the third a security staff in the FORUM Mall, have shown dishonesty and thereby has irretrievably tarnished their image in the society. This is NO JOKE.
Leaving aside all the questions of morals and ethics – as that would also bring the tempter who placed the wallet, the photographer who clicked the series with an intention of not only ascertaining the HONESTY QUOTIENT but also to publicize their acts imputing a sinister motive, into that ambit of ethics and morality- the persons had become BAILEES as defined under section 148.
We as Indians, immediately sit on judgement on the three, as that puts us up also on a pedestal in the Altar of Righteousness.
A bailee is only responsible under the civil law.
But the Bangalore Mirror dated 2/7/2010 has made it seem as if the security man had a duty in a public place to remove the wallet in a way an innocent man would take a wallet found in a public place. May be the security man apprehended that if someone noticed him take the wallet, he might have been overpowered and lost the wallet, and therefore he resorted to take it in a stealthy way. Probably he wanted the claimant to identify the contents before he returned it in the presence of his superiors. But we Indians do not believe in giving benefit of doubt, even in civil matters!!
May be the same holds good to the driver of the Mercedes. But it has been projected as if both of them stole the wallet from some person and did not return it to that person, all with an INTENTION to thieve!!
We Indians do not have any sense of self-respect and the PRESS like Bangalore Mirror is only highlighting it. All the three who have been projected badly, could have ignored and gone their way. But a wallet on the pavement must have been picked up more out of curiosity and then what happened in the FINDER’S mind need not be pondered upon, as there was an abandonment preceding the finding and therefore there is no criminal liability.
BUT the BANGALORE MIRROR has maligned all the three persons and have tarnished their image and prestige in the society and suitable compensation should be awarded to each of the three and an apology tendered by the newspaper.