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Jaswantlal Chunilal Brahmbhat Vs. Narsinhbhai Nathabhai Patel - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1963)4GLR157
AppellantJaswantlal Chunilal Brahmbhat
RespondentNarsinhbhai Nathabhai Patel
Cases ReferredAga Abbas v. Haji Mohomed
Excerpt:
- - this section as its language clearly shows does no more than empower the court to revise the valuation and to determine the correct valuation if the court is of opinion that the subject matter of any suit has been wrongly valued and to hold such inquiry as it thinks fit for the purpose of determining the correct valuation......and a tenant was cognizable by the court of small causes at ahmedabad and that the learned trial judge had therefore no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit. the third contention which is material for the purpose of the present revision application was that the plaintiff had grossly overvalued the subject matter of the suit in order to bring the suit within the jurisdiction of the court of the civil judge senior division and to oust the jurisdiction of the court of the civil judge junior division. on these pleadings various issues were raised by the learned trial judge of which issue no. 4 was as follows:whether the plaintiff has not properly valued the suit for the court-fees and jurisdiction?2. it appears that after the framing of the issues the defendant applied to the.....
Judgment:

P.N. Bhagwati, J.

1. The defendant in this Revision Application challenges an order made by the Second Joint Civil Judge Senior Division Ahmedabad and contends that the order is contrary to the provisions of Section 8A of the Court-fees Act 1870 The Revision Application arises out of a suit filed by the plaintiff to recover possession of certain premises from the defendant. The plaintiff filed the suit on the ground that the defendant was a gratuitous licensee in respect of the premises and that the licence having been determined the defendant was bound and liable to hand over possession of the premises to the plaintiff. The plaintiff valued the subject matter of the suit for the purpose of Court-fees and jurisdiction at Rs. 21,200/-. The defendant in his written statement raised in the main three contentions. The first contention was that the defendant was not a licensee but was a tenant of the plaintiff at the rent of Rs. 65/- per month. The second contention was that the suit being a suit between a landlord and a tenant was cognizable by the Court of Small Causes at Ahmedabad and that the learned trial Judge had therefore no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit. The third contention which is material for the purpose of the present Revision Application was that the plaintiff had grossly overvalued the subject matter of the suit in order to bring the suit within the jurisdiction of the Court of the Civil Judge Senior Division and to oust the jurisdiction of the Court of the Civil Judge Junior Division. On these pleadings various issues were raised by the learned trial judge of which issue No. 4 was as follows:

Whether the plaintiff has not properly valued the suit for the Court-fees and jurisdiction?

2. It appears that after the framing of the issues the defendant applied to the learned trial Judge to try issue No. 3 as a preliminary issue and on the application issue No. 3 was tried by the learned trial Judge as a preliminary issue. The decision on issue No. 3 being adverse to the defendant it became necessary to proceed with the trial of the other issues. At that stage the defendant made an application to the learned trial Judge that since issue No. 4 raised the question whether the subject matter of the suit was properly valued for the purpose of Court fees and jurisdiction an inquiry should be held by the learned trial Judge in accordance with the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D of the Court-fees Act 1870 in order to ascertain the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. The application was resisted by the plaintiff and the learned trial Judge for reasons given by him in his judgment dated 5th July 1961 rejected the application. One of the grounds on which the learned trial Judge rejected the application was that the suit was over four years old and that if the defendant wanted the Court to hold an inquiry under Sections 8A to 8D the defendant could have made the necessary application at the same time when he applied for trying issue No. 3 as a preliminary issue. There was also another ground which weighed with the learned trial Judge and it was that the question as regards the correct valuation of the premises would have to be gone into in any event in so far as the issue as to the amount of damages claimed by the plaintiff from the defendant for trespass on the premises was concerned and that there would therefore be overlapping of evidence if an inquiry for ascertaining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit under Sections 8A to 8D was held as a preliminary inquiry and the issue as regards the amount of damages payable by the defendant to the plaintiff was tried later in the suit. The learned trial Judge therefore rejected the application of the defendant. The defendant feeling aggrieved by the order made by the learned trial Judge filed the present Revision Application in this Court.

3. Mr. S.M. Shah learned advocate appearing on behalf of the defendant contended that on a true construction of the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D the learned trial Judge was bound to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit and that the learned trial Judge acted illegally or in any event with material irregularity in refusing to hold such inquiry. According to Mr. S.M. Shah it was not open to the learned trial Judge to say that he would try the issue as regards the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit along with the other issues in the suit. The contention of Mr. S.M. Shah was that as soon as the defendant joined issue with the plaintiff and contended that the subject matter of the suit was wrongly valued the learned trial Judge was bound to hold an inquiry under Sections 8A to 8D for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit and that the learned trial Judge could not proceed further with the suit until he held such inquiry and determined the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. Mr. S.M. Shah leaned very heavily on a decision of Mudholkar J. as he then was in Aga Abbas v. Haji Mohomed (LXII Bombay Law Reporter 465 Mr. S.M. Shah contended that this decision lays down that when-ever a defendant takes up a contention that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued the Court is bound to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit and that the Court cannot base its conclusion as regards the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit on any material other than that placed on record in such inquiry held by him under the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D. The true effect of this decision argued Mr. S.M. Shah is that the Court cannot decide the issue as regards the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit as a part of the trial but must hold an inquiry before the trial of the suit and determine the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit on the basis only of such material as may be placed on record in the course of such inquiry. I am afraid I cannot accept this contention of Mr. S.M. Shah and the reasons are as follows:

Let me examine the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D apart from the decision of Mudholkar J. relied on by Mr. S.M. Shah on behalf of the defendant. After arriving at my own construction of these provisions I shall proceed to consider whether there is anything in the decision of Mudholkar J. which is contrary to the construction which I am inclined to place upon these provisions. I may at once state that if I find that the decision of Mudholkar J. puts a construction upon these provisions which is different from the one which 1 am inclined to place I would certainly consider myself bound by the decision of Mudholkar J. and would respectfully adopt the construction laid down in that decision in preference to my own construction. I however find that there is nothing in the decision of Mudholkar J. which in any way conflicts with the construction which I am inclined to place on these provisions.

4. Out of Sections 8A to 8D the only section which is really material is Section 8A for Sections 8B and 8C deal only with the mode of the inquiry contemplated by Section 8A and Section 8D deals with the result of such inquiry. Section 8A provides that if the Court is of opinion that the subject matter of any suit has been wrongly valued it may revise the valuation and determine the correct valuation and may hold such inquiry as it thinks fit for such purpose. This section as its language clearly shows does no more than empower the Court to revise the valuation and to determine the correct valuation if the Court is of opinion that the subject matter of any suit has been wrongly valued and to hold such inquiry as it thinks fit for the purpose of determining the correct valuation. This section does not impose any obligation on the Court to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. It may be that in a particular case after the plaint is filed in the Court the Court may feel that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued and the Court may in such a case hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation before the trial of the suit commences. It may also happen that the defendant may not arise an issue that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued and it may not therefore be necessary for the parties to ascertain the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit; but the Court may feel that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued. In such an event too the Court would have the power to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. This may happen either before the trial of the suit commences or even during the course of the trial. In the latter case the Court would adjourn the hearing of the suit and hold the necessary inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. Where however the defendant raises the contention that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued such a contention would necessarily form the subject matter of an issue and it would be competent to the Court to try the issue along with the other issues in the suit. It may be that even in such a case the Court may on its attention being drawn by the raising of such contention entertain the opinion that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued and the Court may decide to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit rather than try the issue as regards the correct valuation along with the other issues in the suit. And ordinarily where the question affects the jurisdiction of the Court the Court may prefer to hold an inquiry rather than dispose of the issue as regards the correct valuation along with the other issues in the suit. The Court may also in such a case decide not to hold an inquiry but to try the issue as regards the correct valuation as a preliminary issue. There is no obligation imposed on the Court by Section 8A to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of a suit as soon as a contention is raised by the defendant that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued. All that Section 8A does is to empower the Court to hold an inquiry and I do not see how any words of obligation can be read in this section. The learned trial Judge therefore in my opinion did not act contrary to the provisions of Section 8A in refusing to hold an inquiry for the purpose of determining the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. The learned trial Judge was competent to direct that the issue as regards the correct valuation of the suit should be tried along with the other issues in the suit and in my opinion the reasons which he gave for so directing are sound and unexceptionable and I do not see any reason to interfere with the same.

5. This takes me to a consideration of the decision of Mudholkar, J. which has been strongly relied on by Mr. S.M. Shah on behalf of the defendant. As pointed out above I do not see anything in this decision which runs contrary to the view which I am inclined to take of the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D. What happened in that case was that a suit was filed by the plaintiff against the defendant for dissolution of a partnership subsisting between the plaintiff and the defendant and for accounts of the partnership. The suit was filed in the City Civil Court Bombay on the basis that the valuation of the subject matter of the suit was Rs. 71. The defendant in his written statement did not contest the valuation of the subject matter of the suit. While the suit was at the stage of trial the learned Judge of the City Civil Court felt that the plaintiff had undervalued his claim for the purpose of Court-fees and jurisdiction. The learned Judge thereupon without holding an inquiry under Section 8A came to the conclusion on the basis of certain statements made by the plaintiff in his evidence and certain documents which had been placed on record of the case and the admissions contained in them that the valuation of the subject matter of the suit was far in excess of Rs. 250 and he accordingly returned the plaint to the plaintiff for presentation to the proper Court since the subject matter of the suit being above Rs. 25 0 suit was beyond the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of the City Civil Court. The matter was carried in revision to the High Court of Bombay and Mudholkar J. set aside the order passed by the learned Judge on two grounds. The first ground was that the learned Judge had acted illegally in not coming to a definite conclusion as to what was the value of the subject matter of the suit for the purpose of Court-fees. It was not enough for the learned Judge to have found merely that the valuation of the subject matter of the suit for the purpose of Court-fees was in excess of Rs. 250 The learned Judge in the opinion of Mudholkar J. was not entitled without coming to a definite finding on the point as to what was the value of the subject matter of the suit for the purpose of Court-fees to throw out the suit on the ground that it was not within his pecuniary jurisdiction. Now this part of the judgment is unexceptionable. It is clear that under Section 8 of the Suits Valuation Act the value of the suit for the purpose of jurisdiction was the same as the value of the subject matter of the suit for the purpose of Court-fees and it was therefore necessary for the learned Judge to determine the value of the subject matter of the suit for the purpose of Court-fees before he could come to a finding that the suit was beyond the pecuniary limits of his jurisdiction and return the plaint for presentation to the proper Court. But this part of the judgment is not relevant for the decision of the present case. What has been relied on by Mr. S.M. Shah is the other part of the judgment dealing with the second ground on which Mudholkar J. set aside the order passed by the learned Judge. That ground was that the learned Judge acted illegally in relying on the evidence adduced before him during the trial for the purpose of holding that the value of the subject matter of the suit exceeded Rs. 250 In this connection Mudholkar J. made the following observations which are strongly relied on by Mr. S.M. Shah:

I may however point out that before a Judge comes to the conclusion that the suit has not been properly valued for the purpose of court-fees he must make an inquiry in the manner set out in Sections 8B to 8D. of course where the plaint itself discloses an objective standard it may not be necessary for him to make such an inquiry but where as here the Judge has not regarded the plaint as furnishing an objective standard he cannot base his conclusion upon any material other than that placed on record in an inquiry made by him under the provisions of Sections 8B to 8D of the Act.

Mr. S.M. Shah also relied on the following observations of Mudholkar J. in this decision:

Therefore the result of this would be that where such provisions exist it is open to the Court to rely upon such other material as may be brought to light after making an investigation in the manner provided for by such provisions. No such investigation was made by the learned Judge in this case and it was not open to him to consider the evidence which was adduced before him during the trial. In these circumstances it must be held that he had erred in holding that the suit was in fact incorrectly valued for the purpose of court-fees.

6. Now it may appear at first blush that these observations support the contention of Mr. S.M. Shah. But when these observations are viewed in the contest of the facts of the case it is clear that these observations do not support the construction contended for by Mr. S.M. Shah. There was no issue before the learned Judge of the City Civil Court as regards the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit. The learned Judge in the course of the trial felt that the subject matter of the suit was wrongly valued and he therefore on the evidence which had till then been recorded before him in the course of the trial came to the conclusion that the subject matter of the suit was very much over Rs. 250 and accordingly returned the plaint for presentation to the proper Court. Now it is obvious that the learned Judge could not in these circumstances act on the evidence adduced before him in the course of the trial. There being no issue between the parties as regards the correct valuation of the subject matter of the suit if the learned Judge felt that the subject matter of the suit was wrongly valued and wanted to determine the correct valuation the learned Judge could not do anything else beyond holding an inquiry under the provisions of Section 8A to 8L). The learned Judge could not act on the evidence recorded before him in the course of the trial. It is in the context of these facts that Mudholkar J. made the aforesaid observations and they must therefore be understood and appreciated in that context. When there is no issue between the parties as regards the correct value of the subject matter of the suit and the Court is of the opinion that the subject matter of the suit has been wrongly valued I entirely agree with Mudholkar J. that before the Judge comes to the conclusion that the suit has not been properly valued for the purpose of Court fees he must make an inquiry in the manner set out in Sections 8A to 8D. I also respectfully agree with Mudholkar J. that in such a case the Judge cannot base his conclusion upon any material other than that placed on record in an inquiry made by him under the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D of the Act and that it is not open to him to consider the evidence which was adduced before him during the trial. It would thus be seen that the aforesaid observations of Mudholkar J if read in the context of the facts of the case do not run counter to the construction which I have placed on the provisions of Sections 8A to 8D in the preceding paragraph of this judgment. The reliance placed by Mr. S.M. Shah on this decision of Mudholkar J. is therefore unfounded.

The result therefore is that the Revision Application fails and will be dismissed. The defendant will pay the costs of the Revision Application to the plaintiff.


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