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Murli Dhar Vs. Bansidhar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 453 of 1954
Judge
Reported inAIR1963All86
ActsCourt-fees Act, 1870 - Sections 7 - Schedule - Article 17
AppellantMurli Dhar
RespondentBansidhar and ors.
Appellant AdvocateJ. Swarup and ;H. Swarup, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS.N. Misra, Adv. and ;Standing Counsel
Excerpt:
.....ii of article 17 of the court fee act - whether suit filed was for a declaratory decree or suit for declaration and injunction - plaintiff managing partner of a firm - meeting held in his absence adversely affecting his position - plaintiff also sought injunction - court fee paid is insufficient - held, suit is for a declaration and injunction - court-fee paid is sufficient. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not..........so far as the first relief is concerned, a perusal of the plaint will show that the substantial relief claimed is the injunction. what the plaintiff is chiefly concerned with is that the defendants should not interfere with his carrying on the management of the business. it is well settled that while considering the question of court fee payable in respect of a relief no importance is to be attached to the words in which the relief is couched.what the court has to see is the substance of the relief claimed. for instance, take the case of a plaintiff who sues on the basis of a promissory note but instead of claiming a simple decree for the amount due on the note he claims 'after declaring that such and such amount is due to the plaintiff a decree for the amount may be passed against.....
Judgment:

Srivastava, J.

1. The Chief Inspector of Stamps pointed out a deficiency in respect of the court fee payable in the trial Court on the plaint. When the Taxing Officer required the appellant to make up the deficiency the appellant objected to the report of the Chief inspector of Stamps. The appeal being triable by a Bench, the Taxing Officer directed that the case be laid before a Bench. That is how the case has come before us.

2. The appellant was the plaintiff. The two defendants impleaded in the suit were his own brothers. It was alleged in the plaint that the parties were originally members of a joint Hindu family which carried on the business of manufacturing sandal-wood oil. it had a factory at Kanauj for extracting that oil. There was a branch factory at Calcutta also. The plaintiff further alleged that when the family was joint he was recognized by all the members as the Managing Proprietor of the business and continued to act as such. Subsequently the family business was converted into a partnership concern and according to the plaintiff in this partnership concern also the plaintiff was recognized and allowed to work as a Managing Partner. As such Managing Partner he was the occupier of the factory and the employer of the persons employed in it for the purposes of the Factories Act. According to him the defendants disputed his status as a Managing Partner and had behind his back passed a resolution on the 23rd of February 1953 Which adversely affected his position as a Managing Partner. This resolution was, according to the plaintiff, null and void.

On these allegations, the plaintiff claimed the following reliefs:

(a) That in view of the fact that the plaintiff is managing partner of the firm M/s Mathura Prasad Suraj Prasad, Makrandnagar, Kanauj, and is occupier and employer of the M. S. Sandal-wood Oil Factory, Makrandnagar, Kanauj, and is acting as such in respect of the said partnership and the said factory and that the defendants are not competent to challenge the aforesaid status of the plaintiff the defendants may be restrained by a perpetual injunction from interfering with the plaintiff in any manner whatsoever, in his acting as the managing partner of the said firm and as occupier and employer of the said factory, till the time the firm is dissolved, and from doing any act which may be prejudicial to the plaintiff's aforesaid status.

(b) That it may be declared that the resolutions alleged to have been passed by the defendants in the alleged meeting of 23-2-1953 are ultra vires, ab initio void, incompetent and without Jurisdiction and are not binding on the plaintiff.

(c) Costs of the suit may be awarded to the plaintiff against the defendants.

(d) Any other relief, to which, having regard to the facts of the case, the plaintiff may be deemed entitled, may also be granted to the plaintiff.

3. The claim was valued on the approximate price of the property in dispute at rupees four lacs for the purpose of jurisdiction. The plaintiff paid Rs. 250/- as court-fee for the first relief under Section 7(iv-B)(b) of the Court Fees Act. A court fee of Rs. 18/12/- for the second relief was paid under Article 17 (iii) of Schedule II of the Act.

4. The Chief Inspector of Stamps is of opinion that tf the entire plaint is taken into consideration the relief which the plaintiff claimed was really a declaratory decree with a consequential relief and court fee was, therefore, payable under Section 7(iv)(a) of the Court Fees Act. The amount payable under that provision would have been Rs. 5,502/3/- as against Rs. 268/12/- actually paid. There was, according to him, a deficiency of the same amount so far as the appeal in this Court was concerned. But we are at present not concerned with that deficiency.

5. Learned counsel for the plaintiff objects to the report of the Chief inspector of Stamps and contends that he is not correct in his view trial the suit was for a declaratory decree where a consequential relief had been prayed. Learned counsel contends that Section 7(iv)(a) of the Court Fees Act was not applicable to the suit at all. He urges that so far as the first relief is concerned it is in substance a relief of injunction. The declaration claimed in the first part of the relief is only an incidental matter and does not affect the essence of that relief which is an injunction. So far as the second relief is concerned, according to learned counsel for the plaintiff it is a bare declaration and no consequential relief can be said to have been claimed in connection with it. Learned counsel, therefore, maintains that the suit was correctly valued in the trial Court and no further court fee is payable by the plaintiff.

6. So far as the first relief is concerned, a perusal of the plaint will show that the substantial relief claimed is the injunction. What the plaintiff is chiefly concerned with is that the defendants should not interfere with his carrying on the management of the business. It is well settled that while considering the question of court fee payable in respect of a relief no importance is to be attached to the words in which the relief is couched.

What the Court has to see is the substance of the relief claimed. For instance, take the case of a plaintiff who sues on the basis of a promissory note but instead of claiming a simple decree for the amount due on the note he claims

'After declaring that such and such amount is due to the plaintiff a decree for the amount may be passed against the defendant.'

In spite of the declaration claimed the suit will essentially be a suit for recovery of money and will be treated for the purposes of court-fee as such. If, however, the main relief is the declaration and without the declaration the other reliefs which are incidental and or consequential cannot be claimed at all the suit will be treated as essentially a suit for either a declaration or for a declaration with a consequential relief. Looked at from this point of view it appears to us to be clear that so far as relief (a) is concerned it is essentially a relief of injunction.

7. The other relief claimed in the plaint is a simple declaration in respect of a resolution which was being impugned. No other relief was claimed in connection with it.

8. The plaintiff can in the above circumstances contend with force that the first relief could be valued for the purposes of court fee under Section 7(iv-B)(b) of the Court Fees Act and the second relief under Article 17 (iii) of Schedule II of the same Act.

9. The Chief Inspector of Stamps has, however, taken the view that through the first relief the plaintiff was really claiming a declaration of his rights and an injunction which could be treated as a consequential relief flowing from the declaration. It is on that ground that he contends that Section 7(iv)(a) of the Court Fees Act got attracted and court fee became payable under that provision. The question, therefore, is whether the first relief can be interpreted as one for a declaratory decree with a consequential relief.

10. In the Court Fees Act as it stood in the year 1928, Section 7(4)(c) provided for a suit claiming a declaratory decree or order where consequential relief was prayed for. In the case of Kalu Ram v. Babu Lal : AIR1932All485 a Full Bench of five Judges had to consider what meaning was to be attached to the expression 'consequential relief' as used in that section. The Full Bench laid down:

'In our opinion, the expression consequential relief' in Section 7(4)(c) means some relief which would follow directly from the declaration given, the valuation of which is not capable of being definitely ascertained and which is not specifically provided for anywhere in the Act and cannot be claimed independently of the declaration as a substantive relief. A consideration of all the Clauses (a) to (f), Sub-section (4), Court-Fees Act leads to the same conclusion'.

11. This definition of the expression 'consequential relief' was followed by a Division Bench of this Court reported in Sri Krishna Chandraji: v. Shyam Behari Lal : AIR1955All177 where oh an analysis of the definition the learned Judges found four essential ingredients to be necessary in order to constitute a consequential relief. Those ingredients were :

(i) That the relief should follow directly from the declaration given;

(ii) that the valuation of the relief be not capable of being definitely ascertained;

(iii) that the relief is not specifically provided for anywhere in the Act; and

(iv) that the relief cannot be claimed independently of a declaration as a substantial relief.

12. The decision of the Full Bench is binding onus and in order to see whether the injunction claimedunder the first relief by the plaintiff in the present casewas a consequential relief we have to apply the four testslaid down by that Full Bench. While doing so, wemust bear in mind that since the Full Bench decisionthe Court Fees Act had been amended in this State.For what was Section 7(4)(c) in the Act as it stood in1928 we have Section 7(iv)(a) in the present Act. Thatprovision is as follows :

'7. The amount of fee payable under this Act in the suits next hereinafter mentioned shall be computed as follows :

(iv) IP. suits -

(a) to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief other than reliefs specified inSub-section (iv-A) is prayed; ..... according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal:

Provided that in suits falling under Clause (a), where the relief sought is with reference to any immovable property, such amount shall be the value of the consequential relief and if such relief is incapable of valuation, then the value of the immovable property computed in accordance with Sub-section (v), (v-A) or v(-B) of this section as the case may be :

Provided further, that in all suits falling under Clause (a) such amount shall in no case be less than Rs. 300/- .....'

In two respects the present provision differs from the section as it stood at the time when the Full Bench decision was given. In the Act as it stood originally no exception was provided in the main clause while under the Act as it stands now between the words 'consequential relief' and 'is prayed' the words 'other than reliefs specified in Sub-section (iv-A)' have been added. Secondly, a method of valuation of the consequential relief has been provided in the first proviso. The second and the third of the four ingredients laid down by the Full Bench have to be considered keeping these amendments in view.

13. Under relief (a) the plaintiff claimed a declaration that he was the Managing Partner. He also claimed an injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with his acting as such partner. It may, therefore, be said that the injunction follows directly from the declaration claimed. It would, therefore, not be difficult to say that the first essential condition is present.

14. The second essential condition is that the valuation of the relief should not be capable of being definitely ascertained. Now that a method for valuing the relief has been expressly provided in the Act no question of applying this test arises. Even if the value of the relief cannot be definitely ascertained the relief has to be valued in the manner laid down in the Proviso.

15. The third test is that the relief should be one which is not specifically provided for anywhere in the Act. Learned counsel for the plaintiff urges that what is being characterized by the Chief Inspector of Stamps as a consequential relief is an injunction and an injunction has been specifically provided for in Section 7(iv-B)(b) of the Act. This relief is, therefore, not one which has not been specifically provided for in the Act and the third essential ingredient is, therefore, absent in the present case. The argument on behalf of the other side is that if the Legislature intervened by adding the words 'other than reliefs specified in Sub-section (iv-A)' to the main Clause (iv) (a), it follows that even if the consequential relief had been provided for in the other provisions of the Act the relief did not cease to be a consequential relief on that account.

This argument was considered and rejected in the case of : AIR1955All177 (supra) and the learned Judges observed :

'It may be mentioned at this stage that Section 7(iv)(c), Court Fees Act in force in those provinces in 1932 related to the suits for obtaining a declaratory decree or order where consequential relief was prayed. The present Section 7(iv)(a), Court-fees Act as applicable to this suit is in a different form and relates to suits for obtaining a declaratory decree or order where consequential relief other than reliefs specified in Sub-section (iv-A) is prayed. Sub-section (iv-A) relates to suits for or involving cancellation of or adjudging void or voidable a decree for money or other property having a market value, or an instrument securing money or other property having such value. It may be that this Sub-section (iv-A) includes a suit of the type which was for considerate in the five judge Full Bench case reported in : AIR1932All485 . But that does not mean that merely because Sub-section (iv-A) is introduced in Section 7 subsequently and because reliefs specified in Sub-section (iv-A) are excepted from consequential reliefs contemplated in subsection (iv) (a) of Section 7, the expression 'consequential relief' would include the reliefs which were claimed in the Full Bench case and were held not to amount to 'consequential relief'.

16. The legislature has not thought it fit to introduce any precise definition of the expression 'consequential relief' after the decision of that Full Bench case. The exception made in Section 7(iv)(a) with respect to the reliefs specified in Sub-section (iv-A) may be just to make it clear beyond doubt that what has been decided in the Full Bench case did really not amount to a 'consequential relief'. We are of opinion that, in the absence of any different meaning given to the expression 'consequential relief' in the previous Act, the meaning given to that expression in the Full Bench case should be taken to be binding.

This third test laid down by the Full Bench, therefore, still obtains and if the relief of injunction had been provided for elsewhere in the Act it cannot be considered to be a consequential relief simply because it is being claimed in connection with a declaration.

17. The fourth test laid down by the Full Bench is that only that relief can be a consequential relief which cannot be claimed independently of a declaration as a substantive relief. While applying this test we have to see whether the injunction claimed in relief (a) could be claimed independently without claiming the declaration mentioned in that relief. What has thus to be seen is whether if the plaintiff had sued for a mere injunction that the defendants should be restrained from interfering with his acting as Managing Partner the suit would have been maintainable; or, in other words, whether it was necessary for him at all to sus for a declaration that he was a Managing Partner. Had he sued for an injunction only it may have been necessary for the Court to determine whether he was in fact's Managing Partner.

It may also be conceded that the Court would not have issued the injunction without determining that question in the plaintiff's favour but it does not follow that the injunction could not have been claimed without the declaration or that it was necessary for the plaintiff to claim the declaration in order to be entitled to the injunction. It appears to us that the injunction could be claimed independently of the declaration as a substantive relief and if the plaintiff had sued only for the injunction his suit could not have been thrown out as not maintainable.

18. In : AIR1955All177 (Supra) the plaintiff had claimed a declaration that he was a sarbarakar of the idol plaintiff No. 1. The other relief he claimed was 'that the defendant be removed from the management of the temple of plaintiff No. 1 and the charge of the temple and movable therein be handed over to plaintiff No. 2 as sarbarakar on behalf of the plaintiff No. 1'. Considering the question whether the second relief couldbe claimed independently of the first declaration it was observed.

'It may be that the facts which would justify to a declaration of right may have to be determined before a certain relief is granted. But if no such declaration is sought, the mere fact that such facts have to be adjudged will not make the other relief which alone is claimed to be a consequential relief or a relief which cannot be granted or claimed .....'

Following an earlier decision of this Court in Sri Thakur Sitaramji Maharaj Mandir v. Raghunath Das : AIR1944All279 the learned Judge held that relief (b) could be sued independently of the relief of declaration and could not on that account be considered to be a consequential relief. In the present case also we think that the injunction claimed by the plaintiff could be sued for independently of the declaration which has been included in the first relief and could not, therefore, be considered to be a relief consequential to the declaration.

19. Reference was made in course of arguments to the decision in Vibhuti Narain Singh v. Municipal Board Allahabad : AIR1958All41 . In that case the plaintiff had claimed a declaration that a declaration made by the Allahabad Municipal Board on the 4th of June 1940 under Section 221 of the U. P. Municipalities Act was null and void. The second declaration sought was that the plaintiff was entitled to allow the stall-holders and hawkers to sit on the Jamuna Road and its patri in village Usmanpur Maiku alias Katghar, Allahabad. The third declaration sought for was that the plaintiff was entitled to realize the tahbazari dues from the tenants and hawkers without any interference by the Municipal Board.

20. In the end a permanent injunction had been claimed restraining the defendant from interfering with the exercise of the plaintiff's rights to realize the tahbazari dues. The question raised was whether the suit was one for a declaratory decree where a consequential relief had been prayed and the question was answered in the affirmative. The main consideration which led to that conclusion was that the relief of permanent injunction not to interfere with the exercise of a right could not be granted in the absence of or independently of the declaration about the existence of that right. Thus the learned Judges applied the fourth test laid down by the Full Bench and as the answer to that test was in the affirmative they were of opinion that the case was one of a declaration with consequential relief and was governed by Section 7(iv)(a) of the Court Fees Act. As in the present case the fourth test has to be answered in favour of the plaintiff the case in Vibhuti Narain Singh : AIR1958All41 (Supra) becomes distinguishable.

21. We are, therefore, of opinion that considering the allegations made in the plaint of the present suit and the reliefs claimed therein it cannot be said that the suit was for a declaratory decree with a consequential relief other than that mentioned in Section 7(iv)(a) of the Court-fees Act. It was essentially a suit for a declaration and an injunction. We are, therefore, unable to accept the view of the Chief Inspector of Stamps that the Court fee paid was insufficient. The objection of the plaintiff-appellant is consequently upheld and it is held that the Court fee paid in the trial court was sufficient. Office will proceed accordingly.


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