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Karri Ramamurthi Vs. Life Insurance Corporation of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectInsurance;Civil
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. No. 809 of 1959
Judge
Reported inAIR1963AP63; [1963]33CompCas1038(AP)
ActsAndhra Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1956 - Sections 6(1) and 6(3)
AppellantKarri Ramamurthi
RespondentLife Insurance Corporation of India and ors.
Appellant AdvocateN. Bapiraju and ;N.V. Suryanarayana Murthy
Respondent AdvocateV. Parthasarathy, Adv. and ;M.V. Nagaramiah, Adv. for ;N.V.B. Sankara Rao, Second Government Pleader
DispositionRevision dismissed
Excerpt:
insurance - court fees - sections 6 (1) and 6 (3) of andhra court fees and suits valuation act, 1956 - petitioner filing suit for recovery of amount under various insurance policies - amount of court fees to be paid is in dispute - assured insured under various policies - all policies are separate contracts and give rise to separate cause of action - held, each policy to be separately valued and court-fee to be calculated according to section 6 (3). - .....in this case and the question that arises for decision is one under section 6 of the andhra court fees and suits valuation act, 1956. the plaintiff filed the suit to recover the amount assured under six life insurance policies. the 1st defendant is the life insurance corporation of india. defendants 2 to 4 are different units of the same corporation. the person, whose fife was assured, was the plaintiff's wife. she died on 22-3-1954. the suit was to recover a sum of rs. 30,000/- being the total of the amounts due as per the terms of six policies issued by the defendants 2 to 4. the liability to pay was denied on behalf of the defendants on the ground that the policies were obtained by the plaintiff and his wife by suppressing vital and material facts and by mis-representation. the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Chandrasekhara Sastry, J.

1. The plaintiff is the petitioner in this case and the question that arises for decision is one under Section 6 of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1956. The plaintiff filed the suit to recover the amount assured under six Life Insurance Policies. The 1st defendant is the Life Insurance Corporation of India. Defendants 2 to 4 are different units of the same Corporation. The person, whose fife was assured, was the plaintiff's wife. She died on 22-3-1954. The suit was to recover a sum of Rs. 30,000/- being the total of the amounts due as per the terms of six policies issued by the defendants 2 to 4. The liability to pay was denied on behalf of the defendants on the ground that the policies were obtained by the plaintiff and his wife by suppressing vital and material facts and by mis-representation. The court-fee was paid by the plaintiff on the aggregate amount of Rs. 30,000/- claimed in the suit. The Court-fee examiner raised an objection that the amounts due as per the terms of each of the policies have to be separately shown and that the Court-fee has to be paid on each of the said amounts under Section 6, Clause (3) of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act. The lower Court upheld the objection raised by the Court-fee examiner and directed the plaintiff to pay the deficit court-fee before a particular date. The difference between the amount of Court-fee to be paid on each of the amounts due under each of the policies separately and the amount which will have to be paid on the aggregate will be, I am told, Rs. 650/-.

2. Sri Bapi Raju, the learned counsel for the petitioner contended before me that the cause of action is only one for the suit viz., the death of the plaintiff's wife, whose life was insured under the several policies and that, therefore, the case is governed by Section 6, Clause (1) of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act and that the Court-fee has to be paid only on the aggregate amount claimed and not separately on each of the amounts guaranteed under each of the policies.

3. It is contended by Sri Parthasarathi, the learned counsel for the 1st defendant, the Life Insurance Corporation of India, that the case is governed by Section 6, Clause (3) of the Act inasmuch as each of the policies affords a distinct and separate cause of action and that the suit is really a combination of several suits, which course is permitted under Order 1, Rule 3 C. P. C. Under the Madras Court-fees Act, the relevant section was section 17 which did not refer to any cause of action. But the expression therein used was 'distinct subjects'. But a Full Bench of the High Court of Madras in Laksnminarayana In Re., : AIR1954Mad594 (FB), construed the expression 'distinct subjects' in Section 17 of the Madras Court Fee's Act (VII of 1870) as meaning disinct causes of action in respect of which separate suits should be filed but for the enabling provisions allowing them to be clubbed in one suit and that the distinctness or identity of the cause of action is the only criterion for the application of the section, Section 6 Clauses. (1), (2) and (3) are as follows:

'(1) In any suit in which separate and distinct reliefs based on the same cause of action are sought, the plaint shall be chargeable with a fee on the aggregate value of the reliefs:

Provided that if a relief sought is only ancillary to themain relief, the plaint shall be chargeable only on thevalue of the main relief.

(2) Where more reliefs than one based on the same cause of action are sought in the alternative in any suit, the plaint shall be chargeable with the highest of the fees leviable on the reliefs.

(3) (a) Where a suit is based on two or more distinct and different causes of action and separate reliefs are sought in respect thereof, either alternatively or cumulatively, the plaint shall be chargeable with the aggregate amount of the fees that would be chargeable on the plaints under this Act if separate suits were instituted in respect of the several causes of action: Provided that, where the causes of action In respect of reliefs claimed alternatively against the same person arise out of the same transaction, the plaint shall he chargeable only with the highest of the fees chargeable on them.

(b) Nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to affect any power conferred upon a Court by Rule 6 of Order II in the First schedule to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (Central Act V of 1908)'.

It will be noticed that the expressions used in Section 6 are 'same cause of action' and 'two or more distinct and different causes of action'. In view of the decision of the Full Bench, there does not appear to be any material difference between Section 17 of the Madras Court Fees Act and Section 6 of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act in this regard. Therefore, the only question for decision is whether in this case, the suit is based upon distinct and different causes of action or the suit is one to obtain a relief on only one cause of action. Sri Bapi Raju, the learned counsel for the petitioner relied upon a decision of the Privy Council in Mohammad Khalil Khan v. Mahbub Ali Mian, 1943-2 Mad LJ 318 : (AIR 1949 PC 78). The Privy Council, in that decision, referred to the definition of 'cause of action' given in the leading case in Read v. Brown, (1888) 22 QBD 128, as meaning:

'Every fact which it would be necessary for the plaintiff to prove, if traversed, in order to support his right to the judgment of the Court. It does not comprise every piece of evidence which is necessary to prove each fact, but every fact which is necessary to be proved.'

In that case, the question that arose for decision was whether a later suit was barred under Order 2, Rule 2 C. P. C. The plaintiff in that suit filed an earlier suit claiming certain properties in Oudh as the heir of one Rani Barkatunnisa. But subsequently, he filed the suit out of which the appeal went to the Privy Council claiming the properties referred to as the Shahjahanpur properties. The plaintiff claimed this also as the heir of Rani Barkatunnisa. The Privy Council pointed out that the cause of action which the plaintiff had both with regard to the Oudh properties and with regard to the Shahjahanpur properties was the same viz., the death of Rani Barkatunnissa and the devolution of title to those properties on the plaintiff as the heir and that the cause of action was one with regard to both sets of properties. Therefore, the Privy Council held that the later suit was barred under Order 2, Rule 2 C. P. C. It was pointed out in that decision that the nature of the defences of the respective defendants with regard to The different properties had no relevancy at all in considering the question whether there was only one cause of action or separate and distinct causes of action. The property, admittedly, belonged to one Rani Barkatunnissa and the only question was whether the plaintiff was entitled to these two sets of properties as her heir.

I do not think that this decision of the Privy Council supports the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner. A passage from the judgment of Bowen L. J. in Kitchen v. Campbell, 1772 ER 487 referred to in the above decision of the Privy Council is strongly relied upon by the learned counsel for the petitioner. That passage is as follows:

'.....And one great criterion of this identity is that the same evidence will maintain both actions.' I am asked to apply this to the present case. I shall refer to this contention presently. Sri Bapiraju relied also upon a decision of the Calcutta High Court in Kapil Charan v. Gitanjali, : AIR1951Cal509 . On a close scrutiny of the facts in that case, I find that the only question that arose for consideration was whether the properties stood in the names of the defendants benami for the plaintiff and whether the plaintiff was the real owner of the defendants. If was under those circumstances that the learned judges held that the cause of action was one and was not separate and distinct for each of the sale deeds under which the properties were purchased in the names of the defendants. In my opinion, this decision does not support the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner. In the present case, the plaintiff claims the amounts due under six Insurance policies on the death of his wife, whose life was assured under these policies. The plaintiff really is not claiming this money as belonging to his deceased wife, on the ground that he is entitled to the monies as her heir. In fact, he is seeking to enforce the terms of each of these policies. It cannot be denied that each of these policies is a separate contract and each contract gives rise to a separate cause of action.

It is conceded, that, if these policies matured during the lifetime of the plaintiff's wife then the right of the plaintiff and his wife to recover the monies due under each of these policies will be based on distinct and separate cause of action based upon these policies. But what is suggested before me is that, because a person, whose life was assured, died and the amounts due under these several policies fell due and because the only person now entitled to recover these amounts, under these policies is the plaintiff alone, the cause of action for the several amounts due as per the terms of the several policies is one. I cannot accept this contention. The cause of action, as already stated, for each policy is distinct and separate. May be, the death of the plaintiff's wife is part of the cause of action for the claim made on the basis of each of these policies. But it only means that part of the cause of action is the same so that the plaintiff may get a decree for the amount due on each of the policies. He has to prove not only the death of the person, whose life was assured, hut also the terms of each individual policy.

Therefore, in my view, this is a suit in which reliefs under several, distinct policies of insurance which gave rise to distinct and separate causes of action are combined for the simple reason that such a procedure is permitted under Order 1 Rule 3 C. P. C. and that Section 6, Clause (3) of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act applies to this case and that each claim made under each of these policies has to be separately valued and court-fee paid thereon separately and that it is not permissible for the plaintiff to pay the Court-fee on the aggregate amount claimed in the plaint. As regards the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner based upon the evidence being common, I must point out that the evidence with regard to each of these policies is bound to be different. Certain facts might have been suppressed with regard to one policy and they might have been disclosed when another policy was taken. Therefore, it cannot be predicated that the same evidence will maintain the claim under each of those policies of insurance.

4. The order of the lower Court is right and the civil revision petition is dismissed. The costs in this revision petition will abide and follow the result of the suit.

5. This petition having been set down this day for being mentioned, pursuant to the letter filed by the advocate for the petitioner, the Court made the following Order:

Time for payment of the Court fee is two months from today.


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