Law of Bailment Generally-Section 148 to 171
Contract of bailment is a special class of contract dealt with in sections 148 to 171 of the Contract Act, 1872. These sections do not deal with all types of bailments. The Contract Act deais with the general principals relating to contracts of bailment. Other types of bailments are found in separate and independent Acts, e.g. Carriers Act, 1865, Railway Act, 1890, Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1925 etc.
Bailment defined-Section 148
Bailment means 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.
Examples (a): A sells certain goods to B who leaves the same with A to be picked up later. This is a contract of bailment.
(b): A delivers a Television for repair to B. it is bailment between A and B.
(c): A lends a book to B to be returned after examination. There is a contract of bailment between A and B.
(d): A delivers a piece of cloth to B, a tailor, to be stitched into a suit. This is contract of bailment between A and B.
Bailment without contract: There may be bailment without a contract e.g. a finder of goods who takes such goods in his custody becomes a bailee under the law.
Examples (a): A hire-purchase agrement is not a simple contract of bailment but it is bailment plus sale.
(b): Customs authorities who seize the goods under the law are in the position of bailee.
(c): Carrier of goods and railways are bailee.
(d): Post-office receiving value payable parcel is a bailee.
Example: A’s ornaments were stolen and recovered by the police disappeared from the custody of police. The State was liable, there was an implied contract of bailment.