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British Paints (India) Ltd. v. Union of India AIR 1971 CAL. 393
CITATIONAIR 1971 Cal 393
DATE OF JUDGEMENT3 December, 1970
COURTCalcutta High Court 
APPELLANTBritish Paints (India) Ltd.
RESPONDENTUnion of India (UOI) 
BENCHS Chakravarti, S Sarkar


This case is a dispute between the plaintiff and the Union of India over a paint supply contract. The Union of India sought tenders for the supply of a specific sort of paint, and the plaintiff submitted a bid that was eventually selected. However, problems developed when the plaintiff’s goods did not satisfy the requisite requirements, and a major amount of the delivered goods was rejected.


  • The Union of India issued a request for proposals for the supply of a certain sort of paint.
  • The plaintiff’s tender was accepted, and an order for 500 Cwt. of paint was placed. The original delivery date was slated for October 15, 1952, but it was pushed back to April 30, 1953, for a variety of reasons, including the necessity to import certain ingredients.
  • Several batches of the provided paint were evaluated, and a large amount was rejected due to failure to satisfy the specified criteria.
  • The contract was terminated on May 1, 1953, by the Union of India due to the failure to produce the goods by the extended deadline and quality difficulties.
  • The plaintiff sought damages, claiming that the rejection was unfair and that time was not of the essence of the contract.


  1. If time was of the essential in the contract, and if so, if the plaintiff failed to deliver the products on time.
  2. Whether the rejection of the supplied items was justified on the basis of quality concerns.
  3. Whether the plaintiff’s damage claim is valid.


  • Time The plaintiff contended that time was not of the essence of the contract. They maintained that the continuous extensions of the delivery date provided to them showed that the Union of India did not regard timely delivery to be a key condition of the contract.
  • Quality Compliance: According to the plaintiff, the goods they supplied were of the required quality and specification. They claimed that rejecting a large amount of the provided goods was unfair and that the Inspector’s reports were inconclusive. The complainant further stated that they offered to recondition and restock the rejected goods, proving their dedication to quality control.
  • Anticipatory Breach: According to the plaintiff, the Union of India’s unilateral cancellation of the contract constituted an anticipatory breach of the contract. They contended that rather than canceling the contract, the Union of India should have pursued a claim for liquidated damages.


  • The Union of India contended that time was certainly of the essence of the contract. While extensions were given for a variety of reasons, the final deadline of April 30, 1953, was specified as a significant date. They claimed that the plaintiff breached the contract by failing to deliver the products within the given time range.
  • Noncompliance with Quality Standards: The defendant claimed that the goods delivered by the plaintiff did not fulfill the required quality standards and specifications. They depended on the Inspector’s reports, which revealed flaws in the provided goods. These quality flaws justified the rejection of these goods.
  • Right to Terminate: The Union of India contended that they had the right to terminate the contract since the plaintiff failed to deliver the items on time and in line with the agreed-upon specifications. They emphasized that the contract provided for such termination in the event of noncompliance.
  • No Waiver of Quality or Timeliness: The defendant claimed that they did not waive the quality or timeliness requirements. They contended that the plaintiff’s subsequent measures, such as offering refurbished supplies, did not mitigate the initial violations.


According to the court, time was of the essence of the contract, and the plaintiff failed to produce the products within the extended time period. The rejection of the items was warranted due to quality difficulties. As a result, the Union of India has the authority to terminate the contract. The plaintiff’s claim for damages was dismissed by the court, and each party was ordered to bear its own costs.


In conclusion, this case featured a contract dispute over the delivery of paints between the appellant (plaintiff) and the respondent (Union of India). The most important issues were on-time delivery, product quality, and contract termination.

The court found in favor of the respondent, noting that in the contract, time was of the essence, and the appellant failed to meet the delivery deadline. Goods were rejected owing to quality difficulties, which was found reasonable. As a result, the appellant’s claim for damages was denied.

The most important takeaway from this case is the importance of sticking to contractual requirements, including delivery timelines and quality standards, as well as the legal ramifications of noncompliance. The ruling of the court emphasizes the importance of contractual clauses defining whether time is a significant factor and the potential remedies for breaches.



Written by Pulugam Devaki, Intern at Legal Vidhya 


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