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K. Hanumantha Rao and anr. Vs. the Government of Andhra Pradesh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. Nos. 791 and 792 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1972AP16
ActsAndhra Pradesh Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1956 - Sections 11(2) and 11(45); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 15
AppellantK. Hanumantha Rao and anr.
RespondentThe Government of Andhra Pradesh
Appellant AdvocateB.P. Jeevan Reddi, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader
Excerpt:
.....properly valued and remitted case to lower court for fresh disposal - lower court cannot reopen question of valuation of suit as that had already been decided by high court. - motor vehicles act (59 of 1988)section 149 (2): [v. gopala gowda & jawad rahim, jj] insurers entitlement to defend the action joint appeal by insured and insurer - held, the language employed in enacting sub-section (2) of section 149 appears to be plain and simple and there is no ambiguity in it. it shows that when an insurer is impleaded and has been given notice of the case, it is entitled to defend the action only on grounds enumerated in sub-section (2) of section 149 of the act, and no other grounds are available to it. the insurer is not allowed to contest the claim of the injured or heirs of the..........suits was decided by the lower court as a preliminary issue and came to the conclusion that the suits valued at rupees 5,200/- and rs. 5,500/- is proper. there after the suits were disposed of on merits and the lower court decreed the preferred appeals to this court in a. s. nos. 136 and 218 of 1965. both the appeals were allowed by this court on the ground that some documents were not properly marked and the cases were remitted to the lower court for fresh disposal. it is after the cases were remanded to the lower court. the governments filed applications in the suits. 1. a. nos. 106 and 107 of 1970, dated 19-2-1970 to decide issue no. again afresh alleging that the suits ought to have been valued at rs. 1,86,534.85 ps. in which case the court would not have pecuniary jurisdiction to.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. A common question is involved in both these revision petitions. Therefore they can conveniently be disposed of by a common order.

2. The revision petitions arise out of two suits, O. S. Nos. 2 and 3 of 1964 on the file of the court of the Subordinate Judge, Karimnagar. The matter relates to the valuation of the suits. The plaintiffs are the petitioner. They filed the suits against the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Collector Karimnagar and the Tahsildar. Metapalli. The plaintiffs were sureties in excise contracts. When they were being proceeded against the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Collector Karimnagar and the Tahsildar, Metappalli. The plaintiffs were sureties in excise contracts. When they were being proceeded against for the amount due under the contracts the units were filed for a declaration that the contracts in question were void ab initio and in any event illegal and unenforceable and the plaintiffs are not liable to pay any sum whatsoever under the said contracts of under the surety bonds executed by them and much less the amount of Rs. 1,86,534.85 Rs. demanded by the Government and to restrain the Government from demanding and recovering any amount from them in respect of the said contracts. In the written statements filed by the Government it was alleged inter alia that the suits were grossly under valued and on proper grossly under valued not on proper valuation, the court of he Subordinate Judge cannot have any jurisdiction, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court of the Subordinate Judge being up to a limit of Rs. 50,000/-. On this plea taken by the Government an issue was framed in both the suits as issue No.; 9 'Whether the suit has been valued properly.' This issue in both the suits was decided by the lower court as a preliminary issue and came to the conclusion that the suits valued at Rupees 5,200/- and Rs. 5,500/- is proper. There after the suits were disposed of on merits and the lower court decreed the preferred appeals to this court in A. S. Nos. 136 and 218 of 1965. Both the appeals were allowed by this court on the ground that some documents were not properly marked and the cases were remitted to the lower court for fresh disposal. It is after the cases were remanded to the lower court. the Governments filed applications in the suits. 1. A. Nos. 106 and 107 of 1970, dated 19-2-1970 to decide issue No. again afresh alleging that the suits ought to have been valued at Rs. 1,86,534.85 ps. in which case the court would not have pecuniary jurisdiction to try the suits and they would have to be filed in the District Court, The plaintiffs countered these applications alleging that issue No. 9 with regard to valuation of the suit had already been decided by the court on 3-9-1964 prior to remand and found the valuation fixed by the plaintiffs is correct and the court has jurisdiction to try the suits and that decision became final no revisions having been filed by the Government against that order and the same question cannot be reopened and reagitated once again.

3. The lower court following the decision in Jabbar v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1969) 1 Andh WR 411, , came to the conclusion that the plaintiffs should have valued the reliefs sought for by them at Rs. 1,86.534.85 Ps., in which case it cannot have pecuniary jurisdiction to try the suits and therefore the question involved raises the question of jurisdiction of the court and as held in the decision in Narasimhulu Chetty v. China Ramayya, (AIR 1942 Mad 502) the finding as to the value of the property for purposes of court fee does not preclude the court from afterwards coming to the conclusion that it has no jurisdiction to try the suit. The lower court also held that the finding given by it with regard to the valuation of the suits prior to remand does not stand as that judgment has been set aside by the High Court in the remand order. The lower court also said that even in the previous order made by that court regarding valuation the matter was not closed by it once for all but kept the question open as it was stated in that order that the court is entitled to revalue and collect the court-fee if it finds it so necessary from evidence. I do not think this question can detain us long. It is not on the ground that on some new material which was not evident then the value of the suits is now sought to be revised.

4. Sri Jeevan Reddi, the learned counsel appearing for the plaintiffs-petitioners has argued that the Government not only not filed any revision petition against the order made by the lower court before remand on the preliminary issue but also that question was not raised in the appeals preferred to this court. Therefore, that question cannot be reopened now. It is not in dispute that on the finding given by the lower court on the preliminary issue before remand the Government has not taken the matter in revision to this court. It is also not in dispute that in the appeals preferred to this court against the final disposal of the suits the correctness of that decision was not raised and it was not sought to be argued that the value of the suits as found by the lower court was wrong and if properly valued the lower court would have no pecuniary jurisdiction to try the suits. Therefore till he present applications were filed to decide that question over again the matter was proceeded on the basis that the value given in the suits in correct and the lower court had jurisdiction to try the same.

5. In support of his contention, Sri Jeevanreddi has placed reliance on Kaluram v. Mehtab Bai : AIR1959MP181 a decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. In that case the suit was instituted for partition of property belonging to a joint family consisting of the plaintiffs and the defendants. The plaintiffs paid a court-fee of Rs. 10/- under Schedule II, Article 17(vi) of the Court-fees Act. One of the objection which the defendants raised was that the court-fee paid by the plaintiffs was insufficient and that the plaintiffs should have paid ad valorem court-fee on the valuation of the share they claimed in the property alleged to be the joint family property. The District Judge while dismissing the suit on merits held that the court-fee paid by the plaintiffs was sufficient. The plaintiffs then filed an appeal in the Madhya Bharat High Court. That appeal was allowed by a Division Bench and the case was remanded to the original court for further trial. The remand order directed that the lower court should allow the defendants to amend the written statement to incorporate their pleas of limitation and adverse possession and it should also recast the issues if necessary and dispose of the case according to law. In the appeal filed in the Madhya Bharat High Court, the question whether the court-fee of Rs. 10/- paid by the plaintiffs in the suit or in the appeal was or was not sufficient, was not raised. When the hearing of the suit was resumed in the lower court after making of the remand order, the defendants again raised the objection that the court-fee of Rs. 10/- paid by the plaintiffs was insufficient. Under those circumstances the High Court held that when there was no adjudication in the appeal preferred before the High Court on the question of the sufficiency of the court-fee which was paid by the plaintiffs in the suit and in the appeal and the appeal was accepted on that basis by implication it amounts to the High Court accepting the court-fees paid by the plaintiffs as sufficient.

6. It is true that in the above case there does not appear to be any question of jurisdiction and the question was only with regard to the court-fee payable. In the case before us the court-fee payable is under Section 24(d) of the Court-fees Act. Section 24 of the Court-fees Act deals with suits for declaration. It is not in dispute that the present suits do not fall under clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Section 24 and therefore the residuary clause (d) of that Section would apply. According to that clause where the subject-matter of the suit is capable of valuation or not, fee shall be computed on the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or at which such relief is valued by the court whichever is higher.

7. On the analogy of Madhya Pradesh High Court decision referred to above if the question of payment of court-fee cannot be reopened it means the valuation given in the suits cannot be reopened which would mean again that if the same value is to remain for the purpose of court-fee it would be the same for the purpose of jurisdiction also because on the basis of the same value the payment of court-fee and jurisdiction would depend. The Madras Decision (AIR 1942 Mad 502) which was reference to above and on which reliance was placed by the lower court cannot have any application to the fats of this case. There the land in question was valued in the plaint at Rs. 239/-, the sum for which it was purchased in court auction. The District Munsif thought that insufficient and arbitrarily fixed the value of the suit at Rs. 1,000/- and asked the plaintiff whether he would accept that figure or he would prefer to have a commission issued to determine its value. The plaintiff accepted the valuation at Rs. 1,000/- and paid the additional court-fee. The defendants contended in their written statement that the value of the property was considerably over Rs. 3,000/- and that the court had no jurisdiction to try the suit. Then the District Munsiff came to the conclusion on the data made available to him that the value certainly considerably exceeded his pecuniary jurisdiction. He therefore returned the plaint for presentation to the proper court. The question arose whether when once the District Munsiff had determined the amount of court-fee payable, in vie of Section 12 (1) of the Madras Court-Fees Act it had authority to reconsider the value of the property even for purpose of jurisdiction. It was held in that decision that the finding as to the value of the property for purposes of court-fee does not preclude the court from afterwards coming to the conclusion that it had no jurisdiction to try the suit. Section 12 (1) of the madras Court-Fees Act which was under consideration in that decision is as follows:--------

'Every question relating to valuation for the purpose or determining the amount of any fee chargeable under this chapter on a plaint or memorandum of appeal shall be decide by the court in such plaint or memorandum, as the case may be, is filed, and such decision shall be final as between the parties to the suit.'

8. But the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1956 with which we are now concerned are some what different. Section 11 of that Act is that relevant section. It is convenient to extract here the relevant provisions of section 11 which are as follows:

'11. Decision as to proper fee (1) (a), In every suit the court shall, before ordering the plaint to be registered, decide, on the allegations contained in the plaint and on the materials furnished by the plaintiff the proper fee payable thereon.

(b) The decision of the court under clause (a) regarding the proper fee payable shall be subject to review from time to time as occasion requires.

(2) Any defendant may pleaded that the subject-matter of the suit has not been properly valued or that the fee paid is not sufficient. All questions arising on such pleas shall be heard and decided before the hearing of the suit as contemplated by Order 18 in the First Schedule to the Code 18 in the First 1908 (Central Act V f 11908). If the court decides that the subject-matter of the suit is not properly valued or that the fee paid is not sufficient, the court shall fix a date before which the subject-matter of the suit shall be valued in accordance with the court'/s decision and the deficit fee shall be paid. If within the time allowed, the subject-matter of the suit is not valued in accordance with the court's decision or if the deficit fee is not paid, the plaint shall be rejected and the court shall pass such order as it deems just regarding costs of the suit.

(3) A court of appeal, in which an appeal is filed may, either of its own motion or on the application of any party, consider the correctness of any order passed by the lower court regarding the fee payable on the plaint or written statement or in any other proceeding in the lower court and determine the proper fee payable thereon.

Explanation:----The power exercisable by a court of appeal under this closer shall be exercisable even if the appeal relates only to a part of the subject-matter of the suit.

........................ .......................... ............................... ............................... ........................ .......................... .............................. ............................ (4) Any question relating to the value for the purpose f determining the jurisdiction of court shall be heard and decided before the hearing of the suits as contemplated by Or. XVIII in the First Schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (Central Act of 1908).'

The lower court decided the value of the suit before remand under Section 11 (2) and (4) and not under Section 11 (1) of the A. P. Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act. It is only when the fee payable is decided under Section 11 (1) it is not final and it will be subject to the review from time to time as occasion requires. But when the matter is decided under Section 11 (2) and (4) so far as that court is concerned it is final and not subject to review over again. In the Madras decision referred to above the District Munsif appears to have valued the suit in the first instance at Rs. 1,000/- at the time of registering it and before the appearance of the defendants and any question was raised with regard to the jurisdiction of the court . It was only subsequently when the defendants appeared and filed their written statement questioning the jurisdiction of the court for the first time, the court had to consider whether it had jurisdiction or not having regard to the value of the property involved. It is under those circumstances it was held in that case that the court was no precluded from subsequently considering afresh the question of value of the suit to find out whether it had jurisdiction to try it or not. But in the case before us the decision in question with regard to the value of the suits was made after the Government filed their written statement and questioned the jurisdiction of the court alleging that the value of the suits is beyond its pecuniary jurisdiction. Therefore the Madras decision relied on by the lower court cannot have application to the facts with which we are concerned.

9. It is true that the order of remand implies reversal of the decision of the lower court and reopening of the whole case for retrial by the original court. But as it was said in the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court referred to above it is subject to an exception, namely, with regard to matters expressly or impliedly decided by the order of remand. As in that case, so also in the case before us it is true that there was no express adjudication in the appeals preferred to this court on the question f the valuation of the suits. It was held by the Madhya Pradesh High Court that the necessary implication of the acceptance of the appeal and the remand order is that the court-fee paid by the plaintiff is sufficient. So also in this case when the appeals were accepted by the High Court on the basis of the valuation of the suits as found by the lower court and court-fee received on that basis and nothing has been said in the remand order about the improper valuation of the suits it implies that the High Court has accepted the valuation as determined by the lower court and decided the matter. If that court and decided the matter. If that is so, it is not open to the lower court again to reopen the question of valuation f the suits on the ground that remand or also reopened the question of valuation of the suits.

10. The learned Government pleader has not been able to place before me any decided case which goes counter to the view taken in the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court referred to above. I have no hesitation in accepting the decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court as laying down the correct principle of law. Accordingly I hold that it is not now open to the lower court to open to the valuation of the suits and decide that question afresh. The result is the revision petitions are allowed and the orders passed by the lower court are set aside. In the circumstances of the case, I direct the parties to bear their respective costs in both the revision petitions.

11. Petitions allowed.


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