1. This is a reference by the District Judge of Meerut. One Pahlad Singh instituted a suit under Section 33, Agriculturists' Belief Act (Local Act 27 of 1934), against certain persons. The trial Court declared that a sum of Rs. 1830-2-0 was due from the plaintiff to the defendants; but the plaintiff was not satisfied with this decree and appealed to the District Judge praying that the amount found due from him to the defendants be reduced to Rs. 1031. The learned District Judge has referred the following question to this Court for determination:
Whether in an appeal for reduction of the amount adjudicated by the trial Court in a suit under Section 33, Agriculturists' Relief Act, to be due from the appellant to the respondent ad valorem court-fee should be charged on the amount by which reduction is sought, and if not, what is the court-fee chargeable?
2. A more or less similar matter came before the taxing Judge of this Court in First Appeal No. 234 of 1936. The learned Judge observed in his order dated 20th April 1936:.It is not stated whether defendant has or has not paid the court-fee [i.e. on an application such as is referred to in Sub-section (2) of Section 33]. If the defendant has paid the court-fee, then the decree is in fact a simple money decree in favour of the defendant against the plaintiff. The plaintiff on appeal desires that that money decree should be reduced by one sum of Rs. 2000 and another sum of Rs. 590. In that case the plaintiff-appellant would have to pay ad valorem fees on these two amounts. If however the defendant has failed to pay the court-fee within the time specified, the decree of the Court below remains a mere declaratory decree and the Rs. 10 court-fee paid on the appeal is sufficient.
3. The learned Judge thereupon directed that an inquiry be made as to whether the defendant had or had not paid the necessary court-fee and so obtained a decree for money payable under Section 33(2). We do not know whether or not in the present case the defendants have applied for and obtained a decree for recovery of the sum of money which has been found due to them from the plaintiff. In the event of their having done so before the filing of this appeal, we are in agreement with the view expressed by the taxing Judge in the aforementioned order that the plaintiff will be required to pay ad valorem court-fees on the amount by which he wants the decree to be reduced. This fee will have to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Court-fees Act.
4. If the defendants have not applied for and obtained a decree, the matter is not so simple. The learned taxing Judge was of opinion that a court-fee of Rs. 10 would be necessary, but in Mt. Anis Begam v. Shyam Shyam Sunder Lal : AIR1937All792 it was held by a Bench of this Court that a suit under Section 33(1), Agriculturists' Relief Act is not a suit for declaration, but is a suit for an account of money and it should be so valued. The valuation of such suits is provided for by Rule 28 of Chap. 20 of the General Rules (Civil), published in the Government Gazette of 11th January 1936, and according to that Rule such suits are valued for the purposes of the Suits Valuation Act at such amount exceeding Rs. 100 and not exceeding Rs. 500 as the plaintiff may state in his plaint. The court-fees which are payable in such suits are laid down in Local Act 9 of 1937, under which Bch. 6 has been added to the other schedules appended to the Act. No such provisions however have been enacted in respect to appeals. There can be no doubt that the declaration which is passed by the Court under the first part of Sub-section (2) of Section 33 is a decree within the meaning of Section 2(2), Civil P.C., and an appeal lies therefrom; and we have to consider what court-fee is payable on such appeal where the defendant has not applied for and obtained a decree under the second portion of Sub-section (2) of Section 33. Since no provisions about court-fees have been enacted in respect to appeals, we must have recourse to the rules applicable to ordinary suits. In other words, we must look to the provisions of the Court-fees Act. Section 7(f) of that Act provides that the amount of court-fee payable in an appeal arising out of a suit for accounts shall be according to the amount at which the relief is valued in the memorandum of appeal. The amount of such court-fee will be computed under Article 1, Schedule 1 of the Act, the court-fee chargeable being in accordance with the valuation which is placed upon his appeal. In the present case the appeal should be valued at Rs. 799-2-0, this being the amount by which the plaintiff seeks to have the amount reduced. Since the plaintiff seeks relief in respect to this amount, he cannot be allowed to put an arbitrary value on his memorandum of appeal. In Mt. Jageshra v. Durga Prasad Singh (1914) 1 A.I.R. All. 72 a prior mortgagee had sued upon his mortgage and obtained a final decree for sale for Rs. 6818-12-5. A puisne mortgagee who had not been a party to that suit thereafter sued the prior mortgagee praying firstly for a declaration that the defendant was not entitled to bring to sale the property comprised in the plaintiff's mortgage and secondly for an injunction restraining the defendant from bringing the said property to sale. The first relief was valued on the amount of the defendant's decree, namely Rs. 6818.12.5, and a court-fee of Rs. 10 was paid in respect to it. It was held by a Bench of this Court that ad valorem court-fee should be paid. It was apparently suggested in arguments before this Court that it was by an oversight that the plaintiff had valued the relief in the way she did and that it would have been open to her to have valued it at a nominal sum. At page 504 Richards C.J. observed:
I cannot at all agree to any such contention. Section 7 says that the ad valorem court-fee shall be paid according to the amount at which relief sought is to be valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal. In all such suits the plaintiff shall state the amount at which he values the relief sought. It seems to me that the proper meaning to be attached to the latter words is that the plaintiff shall truly state the amount at which he values the relief sought, and that it cannot mean that a plaintiff is entitled to put in a fictitious value when the relief is capable of valuation.
5. With those observations we are in agree, meat. The result is that in either case, i.e. whether the defendants have or have not sought and obtained a decree, ad valorem court-fees on the appeal should be paid, the amount being calculated according to Article 1, Schedule 1, Court, fees Act, upon the amount by which the plaintiff seeks reduction in the amount. This is our answer to the reference.