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Raichander Monhanlal Vs. Permanand Sanghi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.R.P. No. 993 of 1977
Judge
Reported inAIR1978AP349
ActsAndhra Pradesh Civil Courts Act, 1972 - Sections 3(1) and 20; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 21
AppellantRaichander Monhanlal
RespondentPermanand Sanghi and ors.
Appellant AdvocateN.P. Bhargava, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateT. Vijayaraghava Chari, Standing Counsel for MCH
Excerpt:
.....act, 1972 and section 21 of code of civil procedure, 1908 - return of plaint by one judge of city civil courts for want of pecuniary jurisdiction - direction of such judge to file plaint before appropriate court - jurisdiction determined by statutes and not by chief judge - act prescribes that his jurisdiction is higher than other courts of judges of city civil court - chief judge acts as appellate authority also - court of each judge separate - return of plaint with direction to approach such appropriate court justified. - - 2. in this revision the learned counsel for the petitioner raised an interesting point with regard to the establishment of a court to be called city civil court. (2) the jurisdiction of an assistant judge shall extend to all like suits and proceedings,.....order1. this is a revision filed by the plaintiff against the judgement of the chief judge, city civil court, hyderabad in c. m. a. no. 79 of 1976, dismissing the appeal and confirming the order passed by the third assistant judge, city civil court, hyderabad, returning the plaint in o. s. no. 368 of 1969 to be presented before proper court.2. in this revision the learned counsel for the petitioner raised an interesting point with regard to the establishment of a court to be called city civil court. he contended that the andhra pradesh, civil courts act, provides for only one city civil court, with judges of different cadres for cities or hyderabad and secunderabad. as the city civil court constitutes one court, one judge cannot pass an order to return the plain to be presented before.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This is a revision filed by the plaintiff against the Judgement of the Chief judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad in C. M. A. No. 79 of 1976, dismissing the appeal and confirming the order passed by the third Assistant Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad, returning the plaint in O. S. No. 368 of 1969 to be presented before proper Court.

2. In this revision the learned counsel for the petitioner raised an interesting point with regard to the establishment of a Court to be called City Civil Court. He contended that the Andhra Pradesh, Civil Courts Act, provides for only one City Civil Court, with Judges of different cadres for cities or Hyderabad and Secunderabad. As the City Civil Court Constitutes one Court, one Judge cannot pass an order to return the plain to be presented before another Judge having pecuniary jurisdiction, in the same City Civil Court. If a particular Judge finds that according to his cadre he is not competent to hear that particular suit, to the Chief judge, City Civil Court for being allotted and posted before another Judge having the pecuniary jurisdiction to entertain the suit. He further elaborated the point by stating that if the plaint is returned to be presented in proper court, it necessarily implies that there is another court and that is contrary to the intendment of the creation of a City Civil Court.

3. The learned counsel for the Municipal corporation, on the other hand, contended that the words 'Judge' and 'Court' are synonymous. Every Judge presides over a separate Court. The Judges are given powers under a statute. The pecuniary jurisdiction to a particular Judge in City Civil Court is given by the statute but not by the Chief Judge, City Civil Court. The City Civil Court consists of several judges and each Judge is a unity by itself i.e., each Judge presides over a separate court. For the purpose of administration the City Civil Court may be a single unity, but for the judicial purpose the Court are different.

4. Therefore, the point that arises for consideration is that when the value of the suit on the file of the Court of the Assistant judge exceeds its pecuniary jurisdiction the Assistant Judge has to report the matter to the Chief judge to allot the suit to a court having the pecuniary jurisdiction to entertain the suit or the plaint could be returned by the Assistant judge to be presented in the proper Court.

5. Before I proceed to note the relevant provisions of the City Civil Courts Act, it would be appropriate to note the facts of the case.

6. The plaintiff filed the suit claiming to be the rightful owner of a piece of land measuring Ac. 1.17 gts. situated in s. No. 139 (old S. No. 40) in Ameerpet Hyderabad. The plaintiff valued the suit land at Rs. 7,815/- and paid the court fee of Rs. 101-10 on half of the market value under s. 24B of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1956. The Ist defendant denied the title of the plaintiff and alleged that that he is in possession of the suit land. he further alleged that the suit land is worth more than a lakh of rupees. If the suit property is properly valued, it will be beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of that Court. The 2nd defendant Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, also alleged that the valuation of the suit land is grossly undervalued and the Court fee paid is insufficient and that the market value of the suit land cannot be less than Rs. 15/- per square yard and the court fee paid is insufficient. In view of the market value of the suit land, the court (3rd Assistant Judge) has no pecuniary jurisdiction to try the suit. The 3rd Assistant Judge framed as many as six issues. Among them issues 4 and 5 are as follows:---

'4. Whether the suit valuation is incorrect and the Court fee paid is insufficient?

5. Whether this Court has no pecuniary jurisdiction to try the suit?

On issue No. 4, after recording the evidence, the third Asst. Judge found that half of the market value of the suit properly comes to Rs. 11,948/- even at the minimum rate of Rs. 4/- per square yard. Accordingly on issue No. 5 he held that that court has no jurisdiction to try the suit. Therefore, he returned the plaint and directed to pay the deficit court fee on Rs. 11,958/- and present the plaint in proper court. Against this order, the plaintiff preferred an appeal before the Chief Judge, City Civil Court. Hyderabad. Before the learned Chief Judge, City Civil Court, the learned counsel for the appellant -plaintiff did not seriously dispute the finding of the 3rd Assistant Judge with regard to the valuation of the suit. But he contended that the trail court ought to have made a report to the chief Judge, City civil court, Hyderabad in respect of allotting the suit to the judge having pecuniary jurisdiction. It was also contended that on account of the return of the plaint, the plaintiff had to lead fresh evidence which amounts to de novo trail of the suit before the court having pecuniary jurisdiction. It was also contended that some of the witnesses are reported to have died. However, the learned chief Judge found that the order of the 3rd Assistant Judge returning the plaint was a proper order and dismissed the appeal. The plaintiff has preferred this revision against the order of the learned chief Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad.

7. Now I will note the relevant provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Courts Act (No. 19 of 1972) hereinafter called 'the Act' which have a bearing on the case S. 3 provides for the establishment of the City Civil Court S.3 reads as under :-

'3 (1) The Government may after the consultation with the High Court by notification establish a Court to be called the City Civil Court with jurisdiction to receive, try and dispose of subject to the provisions of this Act, all suits and proceedings of a civil nature arising in the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, in the district of Hyderabad.

(2) The City Civil Court existing on the date of the commencement of this Act, shall be deemed to have been established under Sub-sec. (1).'

Sec. 4 is with regard to the appointment of judges to City Civil Court, S. 4 reads as follows:-

'4 (1) The number of Judges to be appointed to the City Civil Court shall be chief Judge, of the rank of District Judge and such number of Additional Judges of the rank of a Subordinate Judge and such number of Additional Judges of the rank of a Subordinate Judge and sun number of Assistant Judges of the rank of a District Munsiff as the Government may after consultation with the High Court from time to by notification fix.'

S. 5 is in respect of the jurisdiction of the judges of the City Civil Court in original suits and proceedings. S. 5 reads as under :----

'5 (1) The jurisdiction f the Chief Judge, an Additional Chief Judge and Addition Judge shall subject to the provisions of the Civil P. C. 1908 and the other provisions of this Act, extend to all original suits and proceedings of a civil nature.

(2) The jurisdiction of an assistant Judge shall extend to all like suits and proceedings, not otherwise exempted from his cognizance under any other law for the time being in force, the amount or value of the subject matter of which does not exceed rupees ten thousand.'

S. 6 speaks of the distribution of work in the City Civil Court and reads as under:---

'6 (1) The Chief Judge may, from time to time, make such arrangements as he may think fit, for the proper distribution of the business of the City Civil Court among the various Judges thereof.

(2) An Additional Chief Judge shall subject to the general or special orders of the High Court, perform all or any of the functions of the Chief Judge which the Chief Judge may assign to him and in the performance of those functions, the Additional Chief Judge shall exercise the same power as the Chief Judge.'

The learned counsel for the petitioner vehemently contended that S. 3 (1) provides for the establishment of a Court called 'City Civil Court' Much emphasis was laid on the word 'a Court' to show that the Government was creating only one Court which is called City Civil Court. When that is the position the learned counsel submitted that all the Judges i.e., the Chief Judge, Additional Chief Judges put together are part and parcel of the Court and for that reason under S. 6 (1) of the Act, the Chief Judge from time to time makes such arrangements as he may think fit for the proper distribution of the business of the City Civil Court among the various judges thereof. Whenever a suit is filed in the City Civil Court and if that suit is allotted to an Assistant Judge and subsequently it is found that the value of the suit exceeds the pecuniary jurisdiction, then the Assistant Judge has simply to report the matter to the Chief Judge to allot the suit to some other judge , who is competent to entertain the suit. The procedure is to be adopted in view of the fact that there is only one court established i.e., the City Civil Court. If several Courts are separately established in the City Civil Court by the Government the position could have been different. The learned counsel for the petitioner as well as the respondents stated across the Bar that so far as the Assistant judges are concerned, for the purpose of distribution of the business of the Court, the Chief Judge appoints a senior most judge among the Assistant Judges, to receive the suits and he would allot such suits to the other Assistant Judges.

8. I will now examine the submissions made by the learned counsel for the petitioner.

9. I have already extracted the relevant sections viz., Ss. 4 and 5 of the Act.

10. In S. 4 (1) three categories of Judges are mentioned viz., (1) Chief Judge the rank of a District judge, (2) Addl. Judges of the ranks of a Subordinate judge and (3) Assistant Judges of the rank of District Munsiff. Under S. 5(1) it is the jurisdiction of the Judges of the City Civil Court in original suits that is defined. Subject to the provisions of the Civil P. C. and the other provisions of the Civil Courts Act, the jurisdiction of the Chief Judge, and Additional Chief Judge, extends to all original suits or proceedings of civil nature. Under sub-sec (2) of S. 5 an Assistant judge shall take cognizance of the suits of the amount or value of the subject-matter which does not exceed Rs. 10,000/-. Therefore, if sub-sections (1) and (2) are read together , it becomes clear that when the value of subject matter of the suit does not exceed ten thousand rupees, an Assistant Judge would entertain the suit and over and above ten thousand rupees, the Additional Judge as well as the Chief Judge, could take cognizance of the same subject to the provisions of the Civil P. C. In the present suit the 3rd Assistant Judge found that the value of the subject -matter exceeds more than 10 thousand rupees and therefore the same had to be filed before a Judge having pecuniary jurisdiction exceeding Rs. 10,000/-. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that as the City Civil Court constitutes one court a report ought to have been sent to the Chief Judge, City Civil Court and the Chief Judge ought to have allotted the suit to an Additional Judge who can entertain the suit.

11. To test this argument it is necessary to refer to some other provisions of the Act. The Chief Judge of the City civil Court is of the rank of a District Judge S. 7 provides for the establishment of the Courts of the District Munisiffs in the remaining are of the district of Hyderabad and it reads thus:---

'7 (1) The Government may, after consultation with the High Court, by notification, establish in the remaining area of the district of Hyderabad, such number of Courts of District Munsiffs as they may deem necessary with jurisdiction to receive, try and dispose of all original suits and proceedings of a Civil nature the amount or value of the subject matter of which does not exceed rupees ten thousand arising in the area rupees ten thousand arising in the area for which such court is established.'

12. Sub-sec. (5) (a) of S. 7 provides:---

'Where more than one District Munsiff is appointed to a court of District Munsiff one of the District Munsiffs shall be designated by the High Court as the Principal District Munsiff and the others as the Addl. District Munsiffs.'

Clause (b) of sub-sec (5) of S. 7 further provides:

'subject to the general or special order of the Chief Judge, City Civil Court, the Principal District Munsiff may, from time to time, make such arrangements as he think fit for the proper distribution of the business of the Court among the District Munsiffs.'

Cl. (b) of Sub-sec (5) of S. 7 makes it clear that the Principal District Munsiff, subject to the general or special orders of the Chief Judge, City Civil Court, makes such arrangements as he thinks fit for the proper distribution of the business of the Court among the District Munsiffs i. e., the Principal District Munsiff receives orders from the Chief Judge on the administrative side. This shows that the Chief Judge, City Civil Court, exercise administrative jurisdiction not only in respect of the business of the City Civil Court among the various Judges thereof but also exercises jurisdiction to give suitable orders to the Principal District Munsiff to make arrangements for the proper distribution of the business of the Court among the District Munsiffs. Thus the Chief Judge, City Civil Court, exercises administrative jurisdiction in respect of the City Civil Court as well as the District Munsiffs Courts in the Hyderabad District. If the City Civil Court is the one Court exclusively for the cities of Hyderabad and Secundarabad, the Chief Judge, City Civil Court is not supposed to exercise his jurisdiction beyond the City Civil Court. The statute provides that he could exercise his jurisdiction even with regard to the other courts also. That apart, Sub-sec (1) of S. 8 also provides that the Government may, after consultation with the High Court by notification extend the jurisdiction of the Chief Judge, Additional Chief Judges and Additional Judges of the City Civil Court to the remaining area of the District of Hyderabad. Sub-sec. (3) of Section 8 provides that the jurisdiction that is being exercised by the Chief Judge, Additional Chief Judges and Additional judges of the City Civil Court over the remaining area of the district of Hyderabad on the date of commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been extended under Sub-sec. (1) i.e., for all practical purposes the City Civil Court, even though was created for the cities of Hyderabad and Secundarabad, but the Judges of the Chief Judge cadre of the City Civil Court are exercising their jurisdiction throughout the district of Hyderabad, i.e., their jurisdiction is not confined to the cities of Hyderabad and secunderabad.

13. That apart S. 9 gives a clue to the scheme of the Court's under the Act. It provides of the forum for appeals and it will be useful to extract S. 9 in full:

' 9 (1) An appeal shall, when it is allowed by law lie, from any decree or order in a Civil suit or proceeding:-

(1) of the Chief Judge or the Additional Chief Judge of the City Civil Court, to the High Court:

(2) of the Additional Judge of the City Civil Court;

(a) to the Court of the Chief Judge, when the amount or value of the subject matter of the suit or proceeding is not more than rupees fifteen thousand;

(b) to be High Court in other cases; and

(iii) of the Assistant Judge of the City Civil Court, or of the District Munsiff in the remaining area of the District of Hyderabad, to the Court of the Chief Judge.(2) the chief Judge, may subject to the orders of the High Court transfer for disposal any appeal filed in the City Civil Court to any Additional Chief Judge or an Additional Judge.'

The provisions of S.9 make it clear that when the subject matter of the suit or proceeding is not more than rupees fifteen thousand, the appeal would lie to the Court of the Chief Judge (underlining is mine). The emphasis is that the appeal lies to the Court of the Chief Judge. Here the Court of Chief Judge is specifically mentioned, it indicates that whenever a Judge presides, he presides over a Court. Therefore, it is stated that the appeal lies to the Court of the Chief Judge. If the City Civil Court is construed as one Court, no appeal could lie from a decree of the Assistant Judge, or Additional Judge to the Chief Judge, City Civil Court. The appeal must be filed, if the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner is accepted, before some other court which is not a City Civil Court. But S.9 provides a forum in the City Civil Court itself. It states from the Assistant Judge as well as the Additional Judge, when the value is below fifteen thousand rupees and also from the District Munsiff of the Hyderabad District, appeals can lie to the Court of the Chief Judge, City Civil Court. Therefore, in the face of this provision it cannot be held that the entire City Civil Court, and the judges presiding over the Courts put together constitute only one court. On the other hand, it has to be held that they are separate court. It may also be noted that from any decree or order in a Civil suit of proceeding of the Assistant Judge of the City Civil Court and of the District Munisff in the remaining area of the District of Hyderabad, an appeal lies to the court of chief Judge under S. 9 of the Act against the order of the Assistant Judge returning the plaint. It, therefore, admits of no doubt that when one court of the City Civil Court passed the order, appeal is filed in another court of the City Civil Court, and this position itself is contrary to the contention of the petitioner.

14. That apart S, 20 the Act makes the position very clear that every Judge presides over a District Court. S. 20 reads as under:-

'In this part, the terms 'District Judge', 'Additional District Judge, Subordinate Judge: and 'District Munsiff' and the 'District Court', 'Court of subordinate Judge' and the 'Court of District Munisff' shall in relation to the district of Hyderabad, including the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad respectively mean the Chief Judge, Additional Chief Judge, Additional Judge and Asst. Judge of the City Civil Court, and the Courts of the Chief Judge or Additional Chief Judge, Additional Judge and Assistant Judge, thereof'.

This provision clearly lay down that the Court of each and every Judge is separate. There is no ambiguity left and it is made clear that wherever a judge of the City Civil Court presides, he constitutes a court. Therefore in my view their is no substance in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the entire City Civil Court, is one court and that they cannot be called distinct and separate courts. This construction sought to be pressed into service on 'a Court' cannot be put in the face of the provisions of S.20 of the Act. The scheme of the Act does not permit such a construction as sought to be put by the learned counsel for the petitioner to be put on 'a court' to be called City Civil Court.

15. The learned Counsel of the petitioner relied upon the decision in Prabhakara Rao v. Hyderabad State Bank, : AIR1964AP101 . In my view this Judgement has no application to the facts of the present case. In that case the contention advanced by the judgement debtor was that the First Additional Judge, City Civil Court, had no jurisdiction to entertain the first execution petition because the decree put into execution was passed by the second judge, City Civil Court. His argument was that a decree could be executed only by the court which passed it or by the court to which it is duly transferred to him for execution and as the First Additional Judge, City Civil Court neither passed the decree, nor was the decree transferred to him for execution, he could not have entertained the execution application. The learned Judges of the High Court, held that the First Additional Judge, dealt with the execution petition in 1959 after the records were returned by the High Court to which it had been transmitted in connection with the appeal and his execution petition remained on the file of the First Additional Judge only for a short period of time. But the counsel for the judgement-debtor contended that the fact that the execution petition was kept on a file of the First Additional Judge, for however short a time was fatal and that the execution petition must be deemed to have been entertained by a court which had absolutely no jurisdiction to do so. The learned Judges were pleased to hold that this argument was founded upon a misapprehension. The First Additional Judge, City Civil Court, is not a separate Court. He is only one of the Judges of the City Civil Court. The decree was passed by the City Civil court. The decree was passed by the City Civil Court. Furthermore, the First Additional Judge had the same pecuniary and territorial jurisdiction as the Judge who passed the decree. It is, therefore the idle to argue that the First Additional Judge had no jurisdiction to entertain the execution petition. It is also worth noticing that the judgement debtor did not raise any objection to the jurisdiction of the First Additional Judge to entertain the execution petition at any time when it was pending before him.

16. It can be noted that the learned Judges held that the First Additional Judge had the pecuniary and territorial jurisdiction as the Judge of the same rank of the City Civil Court, who passed the decree and a Judge of the same rank was executing the decree.

17. Therefore, in my view, as already noted, this authority has no application to the facts of the present case,

18. The learned counsel next contended that the entire evidence has been recorded and in fact the trial has almost come to an end. At that stage the question of pecuniary jurisdiction was taken up S. 11 (4) of the Andhra Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, lays down that whenever a question is raised that the suit exceeds the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court, the Court is bound to frame an issue and before entering the trail under order 18, C.P.C. it should decide the said issue. When an objection with regard to the pecuniary jurisdiction is taken by the defendants, the plaintiff could have requested the court to frame an issue and decide the same before entering the trial. If the plaintiff has not chosen to adopt the procedure, he cannot complain of the fact the evidence is recorded on all the issues which entails a great hardship to him , as some of the witnesses are reported to have died. The plaintiff has to reap the consequences for having not insisted upon deciding the issue of a valuation first. That apart if some of the witnesses are reported to have died whose statements are recorded, the law will take it own course in respect of that evidence. That cannot be a point to urge that the evidence is almost recorded and the return of the plaint is not proper.

19. Thus, there is no substance in the points raised by the counsel for the petitioner. For the foregoing reasons the Civil Revision Petition is dismissed, but in the circumstances , the parties will bear their own costs.

20. Petition dismissed.


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