V. Khalid, J.
1. This appeal has beenlisted before me on the objection regarding court-fee paid. The court-fee paid in the court below was on title for Rs. 24,000/-. While court-fee paid in appeal is on Rs. 8,342.75.
2. Heard counsel on both sides and the Government Pleader. The appellant's counsel submits that this being a Division Bench appeal a single Judge has no jurisdiction to hear this matter, because a decision on court-fee amounts to a final decision which can be done only by a Division Bench-The respondent's counsel submits that the court-fee question is only an interlocutory matter and a single Judge can hear it. Section 3 of the High Courts Act enumerates the powers of a single Judge. Section 3(5) is the relevant provision, which reads:
'3. Powers of single Judge. -- The powers of the High Court in relation to the following matters may be exercised by a single Judge, provided that the Judge before whom the matter is posted for hearing may adjourn it for being heard and determined by a Bench of two Judges :--
XX XX XX XX (5) Any matter of an interlocutory character in appeals and other proceedings.'
The question for consideration is whether a decision on court-fee is a decision on an interlocutory matter or not. The word 'interlocutory' has not been defined either in the Code of Civil Procedure or in any other enactments. In the New Webster's Dictionary, College Edition, the meaning given is 'of the nature of, pertaining to, or occurring in conversation or dialogue; spoken intermediately; as, interlocutory conversations; interjected into the main course of speech. Law pronounced during the course of an action, as a decision or order, not finally decisive of a case; pertaining to a provisional decision.' The above meaning succinctly projects the meaning of the word 'interlocutory' for the purpose of proceedings in Court; it is enough to understand that 'interlocutory' means at a stage before final decision. Is a decision about court-fee a decision taken at the interlocutory stage or at the final stage? I do not think that this can admit of any controversy. An appeal ripens into a proceeding capable of being heard by a competent Court only when the necessary court-fee is paid. Payment of requisite court-fee is a sirie qua non for giving life and existence for an appeal on the file of the court, and that is what is to be done at the threshold. So looked at I have no hesitation to hold that a question relating to court-fee is a question that falls to be decided at an interlocutory stage. The position is made clear in the Halsbury's Laws of England, Volume 22, 3rd Edition, at page 744. The expression 'interlocutory judgment or order' is discussed thus:
'1608. Interlocutory judgment or order. An order which does not dealwith the final rights of the parties, but either (1) is made before judgment and gives no final decision on the matters in dispute, but is merely on a matter of procedure, or is made after judgment, and merely directs how the declarations of right already given in the final judgment are to be worked out, is termed 'interlocutory'. An interlocutory order, though not conclusive of the main dispute, may beconclusive as to the subordinate matter with which it deals. The phrase 'interlocutory judgment' is also used to describe a judgment for damages to be assessed.'
I hold that a single Judge has got the power to consider and decide a court-fee question in an appeal which could he heard only by a Division Bench.
3. The second question relates to the court-fee payable. A rent control petition was filed against the appellant for eviction. He disputed the title of the landlord which necessitated the suit out of which the appeal arises. The plaintiff had to pay court-fee on title at the market value of the property. What is now contended is that the appellant will be satisfied with the limited decree that he prays for. In the appeal memorandum the following statement is seen made under the head valuation;
(i) As per 8relief in the plaint (arrears of rant till date of suit) at the allowed rateof Rs. 50/- per month . Rs. 1150/-
Interest thereontill date of decree (16-8-79) . Rs. 855/-
(ii) Future rentat same rate allowed from date of suit or 1.3.69 to date of decree . Rs. 6275/-
Interest thereonafter decree till date of appeal (1. e. 2 months)
Ad valorem O. P.thereon as per Sch. I, O. F. Act
...Rs.; 815/- '
What is now contended is that the subject-matter of the appeal is ejectment on arrears of rent. I do not agree with this contention. Under Section 52 of the Court-fees Act, valuation of the cause of action of the suit has to be the same as the valuation in the Court below. The appellant has taken recourse to a lesser valuation to escape from the real court-fee payable. It is not correct to say that the suit has been decreed on the basis of arrears of rent. Paragraph 11 of the judgment reads as follows:
'Plaintiff's title to the suit property is hereby declared. Plaintiff is also allowed to realise rent at the rate of Rs. 50/- per month, with 6% interest from 1-4-1967 till recovery of the property or for a period of 3 years from this date whichever is earlier. Since the suit is filed due to a direction in an order passed in a Rent Control Petition, plaintiff is allowed to recover the building on the ground of arrears of rent.....'
Reliance is placed on the sentence 'since the suit is filed due to a direction in an order passed in a Rent Control Petition, plaintiff is allowed to recover the building on the ground of arrears of rent.' This will not enable the appellant to prefer an appeal against that decree with the valuation shown in the appeal memorandum. It was on account of the earlier rent control petition that the trial Court held that the eviction was granted on the ground of arrears of rent in conforming with the provisions of that Act. The suit clearly was on title and it was this title that was disputed, which had now been declared by the decree. I therefore hold that the court-fee paid is not correct. The appellant is given time till 3-3-1980 for payment of proper court-fee.