1. On 15th December, 1969, Narain Singh is alleged to have made a gift of his agricultural land, measuring 20 Bighas and 15 Biswas, situate in village Dallanwal, District Sangrur, in favour of Sher Singh and his brother Sajjan Singh, defendants Nos. 1 and 2. In May 1970, he brought a suit for a declaration to the effect that he was the owner in possession of the said land and that the alleged gift was void as having been obtained under fraud, misrepresentation and undue influence and that the same was liable to be cancelled and set aside. He also claimed a permanent injunction against the said defendants not to interfere in his possession of the land. He paid a court-fee of Rs. 32.50 on the plaint. He calculated the same as Rs. 19.50 on the relief for declaration and Rs. 13/- for permanent injunction. The valuation in the plaint for the purposes of court-fee and jurisdiction was fixed at Rs. 195/- and Rs. 130/- respectively.
2. The suit was contested on a number of grounds and one of them being that the same had not been properly valued for purposes of court-fee and jurisdiction.
3. After the parties had led evidence on all the issues framed in the case, the counsel for the parties agreed that the issue regarding court-fee and jurisdiction might be decided in the first instance.
4. The question that was argued before the trial Judge was whether the plaintiff had to pay a fixed or an ad valorem court-fee on the plaint. It was the case of the defendants that the plaintiff, in order to obtain relief, had to get the gift-deed executed by him cancelled. The value of the property mentioned in the gift-deed was Rs. 31,125/- and, consequently, the case was covered by Section 7(iv)(c) of the Court-fees Act, 1870, hereinafter called the Act. According to them the suit was not for a simple declaration that the plaintiff was not bound by the impugned gift-deed and therefore, he could not levy a fixed court-fee under Article 17(iii) Schedule II of the Act.
5. After referring to a number of authorities, the learned trial Judge came to the conclusion that the case was covered by Section 7(iv)(c) of the Act and the plaintiff had to pay ad valorem court-fee on the value of the subject-matter involved in the gift-deed. He was, therefore, directed to pay court-fee on Rs. 31,125/-, which was the value of the property mentioned in the gift-deed, the cancellation of which was being sought by him. The plaintiff was asked to make the deficiency in the court-fee by a particular date mentioned in the order of the trial Court. It is against that decision that the present revision petition has been filed by the plaintiff.
6. It is conceded by the counsel for the petitioner that the suit was covered by the provisions of Section 7(iv)(c) of the Act. As provided in the second proviso to Section 7(iv) of the Act, the valuation for the purposes of court-fee had to be assessed according to Section 7(v) of the Act and the same, according to the learned counsel had to be ten times the land revenue if the said land was permanently assessed to land revenue as, admittedly, was the position in the instant case.
7. In my view, there is merit in this contention and so far as this Court is concerned, this point has been settled by a Full Bench of this Court in Gurdial Singh v. Balwinder Singh, (1971) 73 Pun LR 716(FB), to which I was also a party and where it was held that in cases, which were covered by Section 7(iv)(c) of the Act, court-fee had to be paid at ten times the land revenue assessed on the land and not at 30 times.
8. Following that decision, I would accept this petition, quash the impugned order and direct that if the plaintiff had paid the court-fee in the manner mentioned above, then he was not to be asked to pay any additional court-fee. Since the respondents are not represented before me, there will be no order as to costs.
9. Order accordingly.