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impa Weaving Factory Vs. the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1978)19GLR571
Appellantimpa Weaving Factory
RespondentThe Regional Provident Fund Commissioner
Cases ReferredSanatkamar v. State
Excerpt:
.....in effect and substance, the plaintiffs were claiming adjudication against the recovery of the provident fund contributions under the employees' provident fund act, 1952 which is sought to be enforced as arrears of land revenue under the public revenue recovery act and, therefore, the cases squarely fall within the terms of section 6(4)(a) and the contention of the plaintiff that they were governed by the provisions of section 6(4)(j) is clearly misconceived since it applies to declarations not provided for in any of the clauses (a) to (1) and the subject matter of which is not capable of being estimated in terms of money. the division bench also found that in the case before it, there was a specific provision for purposes of court-fees for the suits like the present one and in view..........that the establishment of the respective plaintiff was not within the purview of the employees' provident fund and family pension act, 1952 and for injunction restraining the assistant provident fund commissioner from enforcing the demands relating to the provident fund contributions to be made by the plaintiffs under the said act. it appears that while these suits were pending and before the regional provident fund commissioner, who happened to be the defendant, filed a written statement, the inspecting officer court-fees stamps had the occasion to examine the record of the case-papers of the suits as a result of which he raised some objection about the adequacy of the court-fees paid by the plaintiffs, on the reliefs in their plaints under section 6(4)(j) of the bombay court-fees.....
Judgment:

B.K. Mehta, J.

1. This group of five revision applications arises out of five civil suits filed by the respective plaintiffs in the Court of Civil Judge (S.D.) at Surat for obtaining declaration that the establishment of the respective plaintiff was not within the purview of the Employees' Provident Fund and Family Pension Act, 1952 and for injunction restraining the Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner from enforcing the demands relating to the provident fund contributions to be made by the plaintiffs under the said Act. It appears that while these suits were pending and before the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, who happened to be the defendant, filed a written statement, the Inspecting Officer Court-fees Stamps had the occasion to examine the record of the case-papers of the suits as a result of which he raised some objection about the adequacy of the Court-fees paid by the plaintiffs, on the reliefs in their plaints under Section 6(4)(j) of the Bombay Court-fees Act, 1959. In his opinion, the appropriate section of the Court-fees Act to be made applicable would be Section 6(4)(a) since in effect and substance, the plaintiffs were claiming an adjudication against the recovery of the provident fund contributions as arrear of land revenue. It is a common ground that the plaintiffs were resisting the attempts of the Provident Fund authorities from the plaintiffs and it appears that on the certificate being sent by the Provident Fund Commissioner to the Recovery Mamlatdar, Surat, the said Mamlatdar has initiated proceedings for enforcement of that recovery under the Public Revenue Recovery Act. The plaintiffs were, therefore required to file suits for necessary declarations and injunctions as stated above.

2. The learned Civil Judge, having regard to the nature of the reliefs claimed and the averments made in the plaints held that the plaintiffs were liable-to pay court-fees under Section 6(4)(a) as opined by the Inspecting Officer of Stamps. It is this order of the learned Civil Judge which is challenged by the plaintiffs in this group of revision applications.

3. At the time of hearing of these revision applications, Mr. Joshi, learned Advocate, appearing for the plaintiff-appellants urged that the plaintiffs were not seeking any adjudication against any recovery nor were they claiming any consequential reliefs of injunction against the Provident Fund Commissioner from effecting the recovery under the Employees' Provident Fund Act. On true construction of the plaints, the plaintiffs were claiming declaration that theirs was not an establishment which is a factory engaged in any industries specified in Schedule I in which 20 or more persons are employed, and, therefore, the Act did not apply to their factories. In other words, they were claiming adjudication about the application of the Act which is not tantamount to claiming adjudication against any recovery. According to the plaintiffs each of their establishment is independent establishment registered separately under the Bombay Shops & Establishments Act bearing independent as well as tax registration, assessed separately for income-tax purposes having separate electrical motive power connections and registered as such separately under the Partnership Act. It is in this context that they were claiming declarations that they were not within the purview of the Provident Fund Act, 1952, and, therefore, an injunction restraining the Provident Fund Commissioner from applying the provisions of the said Act to the plaintiffs establishments.

4. These contentions have been sought to be repelled by the learned Government Pleader on behalf of the State by urging that in effect and substance, the plaintiffs were claiming adjudication against the recovery of the Provident Fund contributions under the Employees' Provident Fund Act, 1952 which is sought to be enforced as arrears of land revenue under the Public Revenue Recovery Act and, therefore, the cases squarely fall within the terms of Section 6(4)(a) and the contention of the plaintiff that they were governed by the provisions of Section 6(4)(j) is clearly misconceived since it applies to declarations not provided for in any of the Clauses (a) to (1) and the subject matter of which is not capable of being estimated in terms of money.

5. I am of the opinion that the contention of the learned Government Pleader must prevail obviously for the following reasons:

Before the Bombay Court-fees Act was placed on the statute book the relevant clause under Section 7 of the Indian Court-fees Act, 1870 which applied to suits for declaration was Section 7(4)(c). Now this Clause 7(4)(c) applied to all the suits where declarations were sought irrespective of the nature of declaration. The entire scheme contained in Section 6(4)(a) to Section 6(4)(j) of the Bombay Court-fees Act, 1959 is different from what was there in the Act of 1870 in the suits were declarations were prayed. What the Bombay Court-fees Act, 1959 has sought to do is that different types of declarations are classified and different court-fees have been prescribed under Section 6(4)(a) to Section 6(4)(j) having regard to the nature of the declaration and the consequential reliefs claimed. In Section 6(4)(j) the residuary provision is made where a fixed court-fee is prescribed to be paid if the declaration is not otherwise provided for in Clauses (a) to (1) and the subject matter is not capable of valuation. In that scheme of the Act therefore, I am afraid (hat the contentions urged by Mr. Joshi having regard to the nature to the plaints and particularly the reliefs claimed cannot be sustained. On true construction and effect of the plaints, it is obvious that the plaintiffs are claiming adjudication against the recovery of the provident fund contributions under the Employees' Provident Fund Act, 1952, which are sought to be enforced as arrears of land revenue. It is no doubt true that the tenure of the plaints is to claim a declaration as to the liability of the plaintiffs under the Provident Fund Act. However, in substance and effect the reliefs which the plaintiffs want is against the recovery of the provident fund contributions under the Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952 since the Act does not apply to their establishments inter alia because there are not a factory employing 20 or more persons.

6. A Division Bench of this Court in Baroda Municipal Corporation v. Stale of Gujarat and Anr. : (1977)18GLR85 held in a similar context where the Baroda Municipal Corporation was claiming a declaration in a suit filed by it that the Gujarat State was not entitled to recover from the Corporation any non-agricultural assessment which is levied retrospectively nor was the State entitled to recover any non-agricultural assessment in respect of the lands encroached upon and for permanent injunction restraining the State from enforcing the recovery, that in order to determine whether a suit for the purposes of court-fees falls within the scope of Section 6(4)(a), the Court must take into consideration the contents of the relief clauses as set out in the plaint, and the Division Bench found from the reliefs claimed in that suit that it was one for a declaration for obtaining adjudication of the Collector against recovery of money from the Corporation. In the opinion of the Division Bench, in essence and substance, the suit before it was for a declaration that the State Government was not entitled to recover any amount levied by way of any assessment by the petitioner-corporation and, therefore, the suit fell within the provision of Section 6(4)(a) of the Bombay Court-fees Act. The Division Bench further held that the provision of Section 6(4)(j) of the Act can only be attracted if a declaration is sought with or without injunction or other consequential relief and the subject matter in dispute is not susceptible of monetary evaluation and in that behalf there is no other provision in the Act. The Division Bench also found that in the case before it, there was a specific provision for purposes of court-fees for the suits like the present one and in view of the specific provision, the residuary clause was found to be not applicable. The Division Bench also distinguished the earlier decision of this Court in Sanatkamar v. State 6 G.L.R. 855 since admittedly in that suit no declaration was claimed for obtaining adjudication against the recovery of money either as land revenue or assessment of land revenue or tax or duty or cess or fee or fine or penalty or under any decree or order of a Court or under any certificate or award other than arbitration or award of in any other manner. The Division Bench also referred to the decision of M.J. Shah J. in Civil Revision Application No. 482/62 decided on 19-10-66 where in similar circumstances Shall, J held that the appropriate clause applicable would be Section 6(4)(j). The Division Bench (lid not approve that the ruling of M.U. Shah, J. In paragraph 29 A.N. Surti, J. speaking for the Division Bench stated as under:

With respect it is not possible for us to agree with the reaseaing adopted by the learned Judge who decided the atoresaid revision application. The plaintiff in that suit bad prayed for a declaration that the aforesaid revised assessment of house tax was illegal and without authority and was ultra vires and void for permanent injunction to restraining the defendant municipality from recovering the tax according to the revised assessment list.In this view of the matter, it is difficult for us to agree with the aforesaid reasoning of the learned Judge when be took the view that the aforesaid suit would fall within the preview of Section 6(4)(j) of the Act for determining the amount of court-fees payable on the suit....

6.1. that view of the matter, therefore, I am of the opinion that the learned Civil Judge was not in error in any way either on the matter of principle or authority that having regard to the nature of the plaint and the reliefs claimed, the plaintiffs were in essence seeking a declaration against the recovery of the provident fund contributions under the Employers Provident Fund Act, 1952, which was sought to be enforced as arrears of land revenue. The learned Civil Judge was, therefore, right when he held that the appropriate clause applicable to the facts of these suits is Section 6 (4)(a) and not Section 6(4)(j) and the plaintiffs must pay ad valorem court fees according to Section (6)(4)(a) of the Bombay Court-fees Act, 1959.

7. The result is that this group of revision applications fails and is dismissed. However, having regard to the fact that the question involved is about the applicability of appropriate section of the Court-fees Act, there should be no order as to costs. The plaintiffs will be at liberty to pay necessary amount of court-fees on or before 30th June, 1977.


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