1. This suit has been instituted in this Court and in the written statement an objection was taken that this Court has no jurisdiction. On this plea and on the other objection that the suit is barred by time, I framed the following issues as preliminary issues and directed them to be heard before other Issues were framed. The issues were:
1. Has this Court jurisdiction to entertain this suit in view of the pleading in the plaint?
2. Whether the suit is barred by time, assuming the plaint to be correct?
2. In view of the fact that the first issue is so clearly obvious. I do not propose to deal with the second issue at all. For the purpose of deciding the first issue, it is only necessary to refer to paragraph 9 of the plaint which reads:
'9. That the value of the suit for purposes of court-fee is tentatively fixed at Rs. 200/- and a court-fee of Rs. 20/- is paid for the present and the value for the jurisdiction is the same. However, huge amount is due to the plaintiff from the defendants. The plaintiff is suing for the rendition of accounts which will be found due to him on taking unsettled accounts between the plaintiff and the defendants'. As the value of the jurisdiction and the value of the court fee is the same, it is clearly obvious that the value for jurisdiction has been fixed at Rs, 200/-. The objection of the defendants that if the value for jurisdiction is Rs. 200/- then this Court has no jurisdiction is clearly established.
3. The learned counsel for the plaintiff, however, is of the firm view, as his submission shows, that this Court is the one which has the jurisdiction for several reasons which he has set out. Firstly, he says that being a High Court this Court has jurisdiction over all suits however small the valuation may be. Secondly, he says that under Section 24 of the Civil P. C. any suit of small valuation can be tried by this Court. Thirdly, he says that this practice existed even before the Delhi High Court Act was passed and it was only for convenience that the cases used to be tried by Subordinate Judges or other courts. Fourthly, he submits that he has fixed in the plaint an approximate amount of Its, 95,000/- as being likely to be found due on taking accounts and, thereforee, the amount involved in the suit is within the jurisdictional minimum fixed by law as far as this Court is concerned.
4. None of these contentions require serious consideration because the law as far as the jurisdictional value, is concerned is by now fully established. The provisions of law appearing in Sections 8 and 9 of the Suits Valuation Act and the ruler, framed by the High Court governing various types of suits have been the subject matter of many decisions. The position is that in some suits the value for court-fee and the value for jurisdiction has to be the same and in some other types of suits covered by the rules framed by the High Court the value for purposes of court fee and the value for purposes of jurisdiction may be different. It has also been held in several cases that in some circumstances even if the party concerned fixes a very low value for purpose of jurisdiction the Court may reassess that jurisdictional value and fix a different value. There has been conflict of authority on whether the power of the plaintiff to fix the jurisdictional value is absolutely in his discretion or may be the subject matter of judicial review by the Court trying the suit. These conflicts have arisen where an objection has been taken that the value for jurisdiction has been wrongly fixed or the value for court-fee has been wrongly fixed. In the present case no such objection exists because the value for court-fee and the value for jurisdiction has been fixed by the plaintiff himself, Having been fixed by the plaintiff he is bound by the same and, thereforee, the suit has to be instituted in the court which has jurisdiction, which will be the court having jurisdiction to deal with suits of the value of Rs. 200/-. The contention that the suit can be filed in the High Court even if the value for jurisdiction is Rs. 200/-because of the fact that such a suit can be transferred to this Court under its powers is fallacious because the High Court is not the original Court as far as this type of suit is concerned but the suit can be transferred if originally instituted in the proper court.
5. There is one other point which requires consideration, namely, that under the Delhi High Court Act, 1966, it is provided in sub-section (2) of S. 5 as follows;
'Notwithstanding anything contained in any low for the time being in force, the High Court of Delhi shall also have in respect of the said territories ordinary original civil jurisdiction in every suit the value of which exceeds fifty thousand rupees.'
This is the section as amended. The value mentioned in this section refers to the jurisdictional value and not to the tentative amount which is fixed under 0. Vii R. 2 of the Civil P. C. It is true that when a suit is brought for meow profits or on un-settled accounts or other debts of which the value cannot be determined with reasonable diligence, an estimate or approximate figure has to be given of the amount which may be found due. Logically, this figure shall also determine the jurisdictional value. But, under Ss. 8 and 9 of the Suits Valuation Act and the Rules framed by the Court, the plaintiff has been given the right to fix an artificial value for jurisdiction and in this case, that value is only Rs. 200/-. In a suit for accounts, the procedure in the first instance is to pass a preliminary decree determining the accountability and accounting period and it is only at the stage of final decree that the real amount due is determined. The initial jurisdiction is determined by the value for jurisdiction specified in the plaint. All these points are so well-settled that they are almost matters of practice.
6. The learned counsel for the -plaintiff has relied upon a judgment of this Court (Joshi, J.) reported as (1977) 79 Pun Lr (D) 181, Manohar Lal Gupta v. State of Haryana. In that case the suit was similar as it was for accounts based on an alleged infringement of copyright. One of the issues raised in the suit was whether the Court had no jurisdiction to try the suit. On the facts the point arose in the following way. The suit for the relief of accounts had been valued at Rs. 1,000/- for purpose of court-fee and Rs. 55,000/- for the purpose of jurisdiction. This, the plaintiff was entitled to do because of the rules framed by the High Court. Thus the suit was properly filed in the High Court. It was contended before the Court that the value for jurisdiction and the value for court-fee had to be the same. The learned Judge referred to a Full Bench decision of this Court reported as Smt. Sheila Devi v. Kishan Lal Kalra, 2nd (1974) 2 Del 491 wherein it was held that it was open to the plaintiff to fix any jurisdictional value he thought fit in cases arising under S. 7(iv) which includes a suit for accounts. Thus this objection of the defendant in that case was decided against him.
7. The objection was urged before Joshi, J., in two ways. Firstly, it was con, tended that if the value for jurisdiction was Rs. 55,000/- then the value for court-fee should be the same and the court-fee should be paid on at the sum of Rs. 55,000/-. This was rejected on the ground that the two values could be different. Then it was contended that it if the value for court-fee was Rs. 1,000/- then under S. 8 of the Suits Valuation Act the value for jurisdiction should be the same and the High Court did not have jurisdiction. But for the same reason, namely, that the plaintiff can have a different value for jurisdiction if he wishes, this plea was also rejected. In the Full Bench judgment mentioned above, in Sheila Devi's case this Court has taken the view that the jurisdictional value fixed by the plaintiff cannot be altered by the Court on its own initiative.
8. The learned counsel for the plaintiff however, has contended before me that these judgments show that the two values may be different and, thereforee, the value for jurisdiction in this case should be taken to be Rs. 95,000/-. Unfortunately, this cannot be done without amendment of the plaint and that amendment can only be granted by a Court which initially has jurisdiction to try the suit. If the plaintiff wants to raise such a plea he can apply to the Court which primarily has the jurisdiction.
9. Though I have discussed this point at some length, actually the point arising in this case is a very simple one. The plaintiff has elected to fix the value for jurisdiction at Rs. 200/- and he is bound to file the suit in a Court which has jurisdiction to try such a suit. This being so, the plaint has to be returned under 0. Vii, R. 10 of the Civil P. C. The plaintiff will pay the costs of the defendants in this Court.
10. Order accordingly.