1. Haripada Datta, plaintiff-petitioner has filed asuit in the court of Munsiff at Karimganj,' for a declaration that he has got eight annas share in the suit holding and for an injunction restraining the defendants from alienating any portion of the land in question detailed and described in the schedule appended at the foot of the plaint and also for a decree for possession of his eight annas share in the said land. The facts set out in the plaint are these :
2. Debendra Chandra Dutta, the fatherof the plaintiff was the owner of the land in dispute. On his demise the plaintiff inherited his assets. At the time of the death of his father the plaintiff was a minor; hence his uncle Srish Chandra Datta looked after his education etc. The plaintiff left Karimganj to serve in different tea gardens as Manager. His step-brother Siba Prasanna Datta died on 16th May 1958. But prior to his death, he had relinquished his right, title and interest in the land in dispute in favour of the plaintiff. Srish Chandra Datta was the father of the defendants. The plaintiff had a high regard for him. When the plaintiff retired from service
he came to Karimganj and requested his uncle to hand over his share in the said property, but Srish Ch. Datta avoided to do so. Ultimately Srish Ch. Datta died. Hence he requested the defendants to hand over his share in the said property but they also did not do so. On the contrary they wanted to sell the entire holding with a view to deprive the plaintiff of his legitimate share. The plaintiff, therefore, filed the suit which was given rise to the instant revision petit ion, seeking the aforesaid reliefs.
3. The suit has been resisted and the defendants have filed their written statement wherein it has been inter alia averred that the suit land had not been properly valued and proper court-fee has not been paid on it. According to the defendants the value of the land described in the schedule of the plaint would be not less than Rs. 2 lakhs and as the plaintiff is not in possession of the same, the suit cannot proceed without payment of ad valorem court-fee on the market value of the property claimed by him.
4. The trial court by its impugned order dated 14th March 1983 held that the value of the suit property is Rs. 80,000/-. The plaintiff was, therefore, directed to pay the deficit court-fee accordingly. Aggrieved the plaintiff has preferred the instant revision.
5. For the plaintiff-petitioner it was urged that keeping in view the nature of the reliefs claimed in the plaint, the suit has been rightly valued and the court fee has been correctly paid under Section 7(iv)(c) of the Court-fees Act. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the defendants-opposite parties contended that the court fee was payable under Section 7(v)(d) of the Act.
6. In order to appreciate the rival contentions of the parties it would be appropriate to read Section 7(iv) and Section 7(v) of the Court-fees Act along with the provisions of the Suits Valuation Act. According to Section 8 of the Suits Valuation Act where in suits other than those referred to in the Court-fees Act, Section 7, paragraphs 5, 6 and 9 and paragraph 10, Clause (d), court-fees are payable ad valorem under the Court-fees Act, the value as determined for the computation of court fees and the value for the purpose of jurisdiction shall be the same. The effect of the provisions (if Section 8 hence is to make the value for the
purpose of jurisdiction dependent upon the value as determinable for computation of Court-fees.
7. The relevant provisions of Section 7(iv) and 7(v) of the Court-fees Act are as under :
(b) to enforce the right to share in any property on the ground that it is joint family property.
(c) to obtain a declaratory decree or order whereupon consequential relief is prayed.
(d) to obtain an injunction.
to & to.......................
according to the amount at which the relief, sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal.
In all such suits the plaintiff shall state the amount at which he values the relief sought for
7(v) In suits for the possession of land, houses and gardens-- according to the value of the subject-matter; and such value shall be deemed to be-where the subject-matter is land, and-
(a) where the land forms an entire estate, or a definite share of an estate, paying annual revenue to Government,
or forms part of such an estate and is recorded in the Collector's register as separately assessed with such revenue,
and such revenue is permanently settled--ten times the revenue so payable;
(b) where the land forms an entire estate, or a definite share of an estate, paying annual revenue to Government, or forms part of such estate and is recorded as aforesaid; and such revenue is settled, but not permanently five times the revenue so payable;
(c) where the land pays no such revenue, or has been partially exempted from such payment, or is charged with any fixed payment in lieu of such revenue and net profits have arisen from the land during the year next before the date of presenting the plaint fifteen times such net profits; but where no such net profits have arisen therefrom the amount at
which the Court shall estimate the land with, reference to the value of similar land in the neighbourhood;
(d) where the land forms part of an estate paying revenue to Government, but is not a definite share of such estate and is not separately assessed as abovementioned-- the market-value of the land.
8. Section 7(iv)(c) deals with the suit where a consequential relief is prayed along with a declaratory decree. It would be seen that this sub-clause speaks of 'consequential relief' whereas the proviso to Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act 1963 speaks of 'further relief . The expression 'further relief' as used in the Specific Relief Act refers to 'the legal character' or a right as to any property which any person is entitled to and whose title to such character or right any person denies or is interested in denying. It must, therefore, be a relief appropriate to and consequent on the right or title asserted and not merely auxiliary relief. The 'further relief must arise from the cause of action on which the declaratory suit is based. 'Consequential relief or 'further relief means such relief which flows directly from the declaration sought for. However, the operation of Sub-clause (c) of Clause (iv) of Section 7 of the Court-fees Act is confined to those cases where a 'consequential relief' is claimed in addition to that of declaration. Every consequential relief would therefore, be 'further relief'. But there may be other kinds of reliefs which may be granted as 'further reliefs' but they may not be 'consequential'. No relief is consequential to a declaration unless it cannot be granted without declaration. The Full Bench of Allahabad High Court in Kalu Ram v. Babu Lal, AIR 1932 All 485, observed that the expression consequential relief would mean some relief which would follow directly from the declaration given, the valuation of which is not capable of being definitely ascertained and which is not specifically provided for anywhere in the Court-fees Act and cannot be claimed independently of the declaration as a substantive relief. Again, in Sri Krishna Chandraji v. Shyam Beharilal, AIR 1955 All 177, it was explained that it is necessary for a relief to be a consequential relief that it is not capable of being claimed, in the absence of a claim for declaration as a substantive relief, that is to say, no suit for that relief can lie
unless the suit also contemplates a declaratory relief. Again, in Hirji, Dr. B. v. B. T. Shapoorji, AIR 1961 All 483, it was observed that a relief flowing necessarily from a relief for declaration and not capable of being claimed independently of it is a consequential relief within the meaning of Sub-clause (c), Clause (iv) of Section 7 of the Court-fees Act. The underlying idea, therefore, is that the two reliefs must be asked for as one joint and indivisible relief, so that if the court in the exercise of its discretion refuses to pass a declaratory decree, the claim for further relief also will fall with it. The nature of the two reliefs will determine the question whether they are independent reliefs or whether one is consequential on the other. So, where the relief of injunction flows directly from the right which the plaintiff desires to be declared, both reliefs may be considered to be but one relief of the nature as contemplated under this sub-clause. Similarly the question of the application of Section 7(iv)(c) to suits for declaration and possession depends upon the circumstances of each case. When a bare declaration is sufficient to afford adequate relief to the plaintiff and the prayer for possession is superfluous, the case would be governed by Schedule II, Article 17(iii). To such a suit Section 7(iv)(c) shall have no application. Similarly where the suit is in substance one for
possession and the prayer for declaration is
redundant, the suit falls within the purview of Section 7(v) and is not governed by Clause (iv)(c) of
Section 7. But where the relief for possession is consequential upon the relief for declaration the suit would be within the ambit of Clause (iv)(c) of Section 7. If by reading the plaint as a whole it is clear that the relief for declaration is not redundant and that the suit is not for possession only, the suit shall be governed by Clause (iv)(c) of Section 7. Where the plaintiff cannot obtain a decree for possession without a declaratory order or some sort of declaration, the Court fee has to be paid under Section 7(iv)(c).
9. The true criterion for determining the question of court-fee in cases of declaratory suits is the substance of the relief claimed as disclosed by the plaint taken as a whole. If the relief claimed in a suit is found in reality to be a substantive relief and not a mere consequential relief, the plaintiff must pay court fee on the substantial relief. If a substantive relief is claimed, though clothed in the garb of a declaratory decree with a consequential relief, the court is entitled to. see what is the real nature of the relief and if
satisfied that it is not a mere consequential relief but a substantive relief, it can demand the proper court-fee on the relief irrespective of the arbitrary valuation put by the plaintiff in the plaint. The correct method of valuation of the relief in a suit for declaration with consequential relief is to put a single valuation and the option of valuing the reliefs rests with the plaintiff as was laid down by the Supreme Court in AIR 1958 SC 245 (Sathappa Chettiar v. Ramanathan Chettiar, In that case the Supreme Court observed :
'If the scheme laid down for the computation of fees payable in suits covered by the several sub-sections of Section 7 is considered, it would be clear that, in respect of suits falling under Sub-section (iv), a departure has been made and liberty has been given to the plaintiff to value his claim for the purposes of court-fees. The theoretical basis of this provision appears to be that in cases in which the plaintiff is given the option to value his claim, it is really difficult to value the claim with any precision or definiteness.'
10. Bearing in mind the principles aforementioned the allegations made in the plaint may now be examined. In para 1 of the plaint it has been averred that the land in dispute belonged to the father of the plaintiff and on his death the plaintiff inherited his assets. In other words on the demise of late Debendra Chandra Datta the land in question passed on to the plaintiff by inheritance. The plaintiff was a minor at the time of the death of his father. Hence he was brought up by his uncle. After completion of his education, the plaintiff joined service and remained out of Karimganj, district Cachar. On his retirement from service he returned to Karimganj and requested his uncle to make over his share of property acquired by his father whilst in joint mess but his uncle late Srish Chandra Datta resorted to 'shilly shallying tactics'. After the death of Srish Chandra Datta, the plaintiff asked the defendants to make over his legitimate share in the suit land. But the defendants have not acceded to the request of the plaintiff. In paragraph 3, the plaintiff has
alleged that he had learnt that the defendants with a view to make illegal gain and to deprive the plaintiff of his legitimate share in the suit land were determined to sell the entire holding. On these allegations the plaintiff has prayed that it be declared that he has eight annas share in the suit land. He has
also prayed for an injunction to restrain the defendants from alienating any portion of the land in dispute. He has further asked for recovery of possession of his eight annas share in the said land. From the averments in the plaint it is quite manifest that the substantial relief asked for by the plaintiff is a declaratory decree. The other reliefs prayed for are consequential reliefs. According to the plaintiff, the defendants do not recognise the right and title of plaintiff in the property in question. On the contrary, in assertion of their absolute right in the said property they intend to sell the same in its entirety. The plaintiff is not in possession of that property but he cannot secure possession thereof unless it is declared that he has right, title and interest therein. The suit is, in these circumstances, covered by the provisions of Section 7(iv)(c) of the Court Fees Act, and not by Sub-clause (d) or any other sub-clause of Section 7(v) of the Act. The computation of court-fee in suits falling under Section 7(iv)(c) of the Act obviously depends upon the valuation given by the plaintiff in respect of his claim. The plaintiff, in the instant case, exercised his option and valued his claim for the purpose of court-fee. That valuation shall be the basis for determining the amount of court-fees. The order of the Court below fixing a different valuation and directing the plaintiff to pay the deficit court-fee is hence unsustainable.
11. In the result, the revision petition is allowed and the impugned order of the Court below is set aside. The Court below is directed to proceed with the suit on the basis of the valuation fixed by the plaintiff. In the circumstances of the case I, however, make no order as to costs.