(1)In this revision petition the true scope of S. 31(1) of the Court-fees Act, 1870, as amended by Act XII of 1954, comes up for consideration.
(2) The said section reads as follows :
'Where any suit in a Court is settled by agreement of parties before issues have been settled or any evidence recorded, half the amount of fee paid by the plaintiff on the plaint shall be paid to him by the Court.......'
(3) This revision petition arises out of Long Cause Suit No. 275/1954 in the Court of the Civil Judge, Jr. Dn. Gadag. In the suit, the defendants filed their written statement and issues were struck in due course. Some time after the issues were framed, the suit was settled out of Court. The plaintiff-petitioner applied to the Court below under S. 31(1) to refund half the court-fee paid by him in the suit. The court below has rejected his application holding that as the suit had been compromised after the issues were settled, the plaintiff is not entitled to the refund claimed.
(4) Sri Malimath, the learned counsel for the petitioner, contends that a plaintiff in any suit is entitled to a refund of half the court-fee paid by him if the suit is compromised either before the issue are settled or evidence recorded whichever is later. I am unable to accept this contention as sound. The words of section are plain. Before a plaintiff can claim a refund of the court-fee, the suit must have been settled either before the issues are settled or before any evidence is recorded.
If any one of the two things, i.e. settling of the issues or recording of evidence had taken place before the suit is compromised, then the plaintiff is not entitled to any refund of the court-fee paid. Sri Malimath urges that the provisions relating to court-fee must be construed strictly. But in my judgment, the language of S. 31(1) is plain and no question of interpretation arises.
(5) In the result, the petition fails and the same is dismissed. But there will be no order as to costs.
(6) Petition dismissed