1. The Division Bench while allowing the Writ Appeal No. 928/ 74, set aside the order of the learned single Judge who had dismissed the Writ Petition No. 5798 of 1974, in limine, and remanded the case to the learned single Judge for a decision on merits.
2.The petitioner has filed a memo in the aforesaid Writ Appeal claiming refund of court-fee affixed on the memorandum of appeal.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioner has sought to base his claim for refund on the provisions of Section 64 of the Karnataka Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the Court Fees Act), which reads: -
'64. Refund in cases of remand -
(1) Where a plaint or memorandum of appeal which has been rejected by the lower court is ordered to be received, or where a suit is remanded in appeal for a fresh decision by the lower court, the court making the order or remanding the appeal's hall, where the whole decree is reversed and the suit is remanded, and may in other cases direct the refund to the appellant of the full amount of fee paid on the memorandum of appeal; and, if the remand is on second appeal, also on the memorandum of appeal in the first appellate Court.
(2) Where an appeal is remanded in second appeal for a fresh decision by the lower appellate court, the High Court remanding the appeal may direct the refund to the appellant of the full amount of fee paid in the memorandum of second appeal:
Provided that, no refund shall be ordered if the remand was caused by the fault of the party who would otherwise be entitled to a refund:
Provided further that, if the order of remand does not cover the whole of the subject-matter of the suit, the refund shall not extend to more than so much fee as would have been originally payable on that part of the subject-matter in respect whereof the suit has been remanded.'
4. Learned Government Advocate, who appears in response to the notice, has opposed the memo on the ground that the provisions of Section 64 of the Court Fees Act in terms do not cover the case of an appeal arising from the decision of a single Judge rendered in a Writ Petition. While elaborating his submission, the learned Counsel laid stress on the nature of the Procedureedings and submitted on the strength of (Hansraj Gupta v. Debra Dun-Mussoorie Electric Tramway Co. Ltd.) that it is only the civil proceedings launched by a presentation of a plaint before the Civil Court of general civil jurisdiction that tantamounts to a suit and not any other proceedings and, therefore, writ proceedings initiated in this Court do not fall in the category of suits, and therefore, in terms are not covered by the provisions of Section 64 of the Court-fees Act. For his aforesaid submission he also (sic) (draws?) sustenance from a Full Bench decision of Andhra Pradesh High Court reported in : AIR1961AP86 (Sri Ramakrishna Commercial Society Ltd. v. State of Andhra) where the question for consideration was as to whether in a revision to the High Court in a sales tax matter the provisions of Section 64 of the Court Fees Act could be invoked for seeking refund of the court-fees paid on the revision petition.
5. Lastly, it has been contended on behalf of the Government that the provisions of Section 9 of the Court Fees Act envisage payment of the highest court fees on a document which subscribes to the description of two documents, one of them carrying higher court fee than the other, and laid stress on the fact that in case the petitioner claims that the writ petition fell in the category of a plaint, then he may become liable to pay ad valorem court-fee on the subject-matter of the petition which may come to much more than the fixed court-fee of Rs. 100/-.
6. We find considerable merit in the contentions advanced on behalf of the Government.
7. Admittedly, the provisions of Section 64 of the Court Fees Act in terms do not contemplate an appeal from the order of the learned single Judge rendered in a writ petition. The learned counsel for the petitioner, however, referred us to the decision of the Lahore High Court reported in AIR 1936 Lah 102 (Harikishan Lal v. Peoples' Bank of Northern India Ltd.) and Punjab High Court decision reported in (Peoples' insurance Company Ltd. v. Sardul Singh Caveeshar).
8. In the Lahore case the question for consideration was as to whether the High Court in exercise of its powers under Section 9 of the Letters Patent Act could transfer to itself the proceedings pending before the Insolvency Court. Chief Justice Young speaking for the Division Bench accorded liberal interpretation to the expression 'suit' occurring in Section 9 of the Letters Patent Act and held that Insolvency proceedings for the purpose of Section 9 of the Letters. Patent Act, can be treated as civil proceedings and thus a suit which the High Court would be competent to transfer to its file under the aforesaid Letters Patent provision.
9. In Peoples' Insurance Co. Ltd., (supra) the Punjab High Court followed the ratio of the aforesaid Lahore decision while transferring to its file from that of the subordinate court the proceedings pending in his court under Company Law.
10. It is no doubt true that in the two decisions relied upon on behalf of the petitioner the extended meaning to the expression 'suit' had been given in the context of the power of the High Court under Section 9 of the Letters Patent Act. But similar liberalism may not commend itself where a fiscal statute comes interpretation. According to the known canons of interpretation, a provision in a fiscal statute has to be construed strictly. Obviously it does not need any emphasis that approach has to be similar both at the time of exacting revenue for the State as also while refunding the same.
11. For the reasons stated, we find ourselves unable to accede to the prayer in the memo and accordingly the same is disallowed.
12. Prayer disallowed.