1. The suit out of which this appeal arises was a suit for the winding-up of a partnership and for accounts. The plaint bore a Rs. 10 stamp, and the suit was valued at Rs. 130 for the purpose of Court fees, while for the purposes of jurisdiction the plaintiff stated its value at Rs. 10,000.
2. The learned Judge of the Court of first instance, being apparently suspicious as to the value put upon the suit by the plaintiffs, called upon them under Order VII, Rule 2, to state approximately the amount sued for. No further or more definite sum than that already mentioned was however stated by the plaintiffs in response to this demand of the learned Judge, and the result was that the Judge rejected the plaint.
3. The plaintiffs appealed to the District Judge, but he dismissed their appeal summarily, apparently finding it unnecessary to hear the other side. The learned Judge notices the argument advanced for the appellants, that is, that it was open to them, the appellants, to value the relief at any sum they liked, but, says the Judge, ' as far as I am aware there is no authority which can support such a contention.' There is, however, as we shall notice presently, ample authority of this Court in support of the appellants' argument.
4. The question raised by the appeal is whether the order rejecting the plaint can be sustained. Admittedly, the only power of rejecting a plaint which is vested in the Court is the power described in Order VII, Rule 11 of the Code, and it is conceded before us that the trial Judge intended to make his order under class. (b) of that rule; that is to say, he rejected the plaint, because, in his opinion, the relief claimed was undervalued. The suit, however, is a suit for accounts and as such falls under class. (f) of Sub-section (iv) of Section 7 of the Court Fees Act, and by that Act the amount of fees payable in the suit is to be computed according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint. By Section 8 of the Suits Valuation Act this value determinable for the computation of Court fees and the value for the purposes of jurisdiction shall be the same. It was, therefore, in this suit wholly unnecessary for the plaintiffs to fix any value for the purposes of jurisdiction, nor could the value, which the plaintiffs fixed for that purpose, have any real effect, seeing that the law lays down what the value for the purposes of jurisdiction shall be. It is difficult, therefore, to see why the plaintiffs should be prejudiced or damnified, because they added to the plaint a computation which it was unnecessary for them to give. Under Section 7 of the Court-Fees Act, it is open to the plaintiffs in such a suit as this to value the amount at which the relief sought is estimated for the purpose of Court fees. And there is a long chain of authority in this Court to support this view of the meaning of the section. We may refer to the cases of Manohar Ganesh v. Bawa Ramcharandas I.L.R. (1877) 2 Bom. 219; Govanda Kasandas v. Dayabhai Savaichand (1884) I.L.R. 9 Bom. 22; Balvantrao v. Bhimashanhar I.L.R. (1889) 13 Bom. 517; Bai Amba v. Pranjivandas Dullabhram I.L.R. (1894) 19 Bom. 198; and Pherozshaw v. Waghji : (1911)13BOMLR158 . It is necessary only to add that this catena of decisions is not really broken by the case of Dayaratn v. Gordhandas I.L.R. (1906) 31 Bom. 73 : 8 Bom. L.R. 885, for that case has been distinguished and its authority weakened by the decision in Vachhani Keshabhai v. Vachhani Nanbha I.L.R. (1908) 33 Bom. 307 : 11 Bom. L.R. 30. Upon these grounds it seems to us not possible to hold that the relief claimed in this suit was undervalued. In other words, in our opinion, the trial Judge had no authority to reject this plaint.
5. It may be added with reference to the Judge's demand calling upon the plaintiffs under Order VII, Rule 2, to state approximately the amount sued for, that there was no good reason to suppose that the sum already stated by the plaintiffs was not to the best of their belief a correct approximation of the amount sued for. It is to be observed, we think, that the provisions of this second paragraph of Order VII, Rule 2, are in contrast with the first paragraph which requires the statement of a , precise amount. The approximation, therefore, required by the second paragraph may be but a rough and ready approximation such as the plaintiffs in any given case are able to give.
6. On these grounds we are of opinion that the appeal should be allowed, the decree made by the Court below should be reversed and the suit remanded to be tried out on its merits.
7. All costs hitherto will be costs in the suit.