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Jagannath Vs. Kundan Mal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. Nil of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1958Raj144
ActsCourt-fees Act, 1870 - Sections 7
AppellantJagannath
RespondentKundan Mal and ors.
Appellant Advocate P.D. Mathur, Adv.; C.B. Bhargava, Deputy Govt. Adv.
Respondent Advocate G.L. Shah, Adv.
Cases ReferredDeoji Goa v. Tricumiji Jivan Das
Excerpt:
- - held that the defendant in such a suit was entitled to value the relief sought in the memorandum of appeal at any figure he liked and pay court-fee thereon, thus confirming the earlier decision in chunnilal's case (h). the patna high courtin kuldip sahay v. (2) it is a well-known rule of interpretation that fiscal acts should be construed strictly and in case of doubt in favour of the subject......and are of the opinion that a defendaut-ap-pellant in an appeal from a preliminary decree in a suit of accounts is entitled to fix his own valuation of the relief he claims in the memorandum of appeal and is not bound by the valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit. our reasons for this are as follows:(1) in a suit for accounts and for dissolution of partnership a plaintiff by the very nature of things has to put an arbitrary and tentative vahie according to his own conception of the circumstances of the case as he cannot be supposed to know at the time ef the filing of the suit the exact amount due to him from the opposite party that remains to be ascertained by taking of the accounts in the suit and when the valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit is itself on its very face.....
Judgment:

J.S. Ranawat, J.

1. This case has come before us on the report of the Stamp Reporter.

2. Jagarmath, who was defendant in the lower court, has filed an appeal in this court on 1-8-1956, against the judgment and preliminary decree under Order 20, Rule 15 C. P. C. of the District Judge, Jaipur District, dated 6-6-56, for dissolution cf the partnership business with effect from Kartik Budi Amavas Smt. Year 2010 fixing the share of the plaintiffs at 9 annas in a rupee and that of the defendant, Rudmal, at 7 annas in a rupee and also directing the accounts of the partnership to be taken. The defendant-appellant valued his memorandum of appeal at Rs. 500/- and paid a fixed fee of Rs. 37/8/- on it. The plaintiffs in the lower court paid an amount of Rs. 1225/- as court-fee on their suit. The Stamp Reporter has noted in his report that the defendant-appellant was bound by the valuation put by the plaintiffs in the suit and was liable to pay court-fee on it. According to him the court-fee paid by the appellant is deficient. The appellant has pleaded that he is not bound by the valuation put by the plaintiffs in the suit in an arbitrary manner and that he is entitled to put his own valuation on the memorandum of appeal, and that there is no provision in the Court-fees Act requiring him to pay court-fee on the amount of the valuation of the suit put by the plaintiffs in the lower court.

3. As the matter related to Government revenues notice was given to the Government Advocate who appeared before the court and supported the report of the Stamp Reporter.

4. Court-fee on the memorandum of appeal is to be computed in accordance with the provision of Schedule I Item 1 to the Cour-fees Act on the valuation of the memorandum of appeal. The valuation of the memorandum of appeal in this case is to be determined in accordance with the provision to Section 7(iv)(f), which is as follows:

'The amount of fee payable under this Act in the suits next hereinafter mentioned shall be computed as follows:

(i) .....

(ii) .....

(iii) .....

(iv) In suits-

(a) .....

(b) .....

(c) .....

(d) .....

(e) .....

(f) for accounts -- according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal: In all such suits the plaintiffs shall state the amount at which he values the relief sought'.

5. The question whether a defendant-appel-lant is bound by the valuation fixed by the plaintiff in the suit or is entitled to put his own valuation on his appeal from a preliminary decree in a suit for accounts is not free from difficulty. There is a conflict of opinion amongst the various High Courts in India on this point. The High Court of Madras on the one hand has consistently held the view that the valuation once fixed by the plaintiff must be adhered to at subsequent stages unlessthe identity of the subject-matter is different, vide Samiya Mavali v. Minammal, ILR 23 Mad 490 (A), Dhupati Srinivasacharlu v. Peridevamma, ILR 39 Mad 725: (AIR 1917 Mad 668) (B) and In re Dhanu-kodi Nayakkar, AIR 1938 Mad 435 (FB) (C). The Punjab High Court in Kanjimal v. Panna Lal, 7 Pun Re 1915 : (AIR 1914 Lah 507) (D), the Calcutta High Court in Bunwari Lal v. Daya Sunker Misser, 13 Cal WN 815 (E), the Lahore High Court in Meghrajv. Rupchand Uttamchand, AIR 1946 Lah 280 (FB) (F) and the Nagpur High Court in Sheoram Sitaram v. Atmaram Raghoji, AIR 1943 Nag 13 (G) have followed the Madras view. On the other hand, the Allahabad High Court in Chunni Lal v. Sheocharan Lal, AIR 1925 All 787 (H) has disagreed with the opinion of the Madras High Court and has laid down that the appellant in an appeal from a preliminarydecree in a suit for accounts is entitled to fix his own valuation for the relief ho claims and is not bound by the valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit. In Ghalib Rasool v. Mangulal, AIR 1949 All 382 (FB) (I) a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court consisting of Malik C. J. and Seth and Bhar-gava J,T. held that the defendant in such a suit was entitled to value the relief sought in the memorandum of appeal at any figure he liked and pay court-fee thereon, thus confirming the earlier decision in Chunnilal's case (H). The Patna High Courtin Kuldip Sahay v. Harihar Prasad, AIR 1924 Pat 161 (J) has adnpted the view that was laid down by the Allahabad decisions. In a subsequent Full Bench decision of that Court in Deoji Goa v. Tricumiji Jivan Das, AIR 1935 Pat 396 (K) its earlier view was confirmed by a majority though one of the Judges expressed a contrary opinion.

6. The language of Section 7(iv)(f) is faulty and this has given rise to this controversy. We have carefully considered the intention of the legislature and the true import of the language used in Section 7(iv)(f) and are of the opinion that a defendaut-ap-pellant in an appeal from a preliminary decree in a suit of accounts is entitled to fix his own valuation of the relief he claims in the memorandum of appeal and is not bound by the valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit. Our reasons for this are as follows:

(1) In a suit for accounts and for dissolution of partnership a plaintiff by the very nature of things has to put an arbitrary and tentative vahie according to his own conception of the circumstances of the case as he cannot be supposed to know at the time ef the filing of the suit the exact amount due to him from the opposite party that remains to be ascertained by taking of the accounts in the suit and when the valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit is itself on its very face arbitrary and tentative it would be unfair to bind the defendant by it and not to permit him to put his own value on hismemorandum of appeal according to his conception of the facts of the case.

(2) It is a well-known rule of interpretation that fiscal Acts should be construed strictly and in case of doubt in favour of the subject. The provision of Section 7(iv)(f) that 'according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal' does not lay down that a defendant should be deprived of putting his own value on a memorandum of appeal in a suit for accounts. From the further provision that 'in all such suits the plaintiff shall state the amount at which he values the relief sought', the learned Judges of the Madras High Court have inferred that a plaintiff alone is entitled to put a value on the suit and the defendant is bound by it. With due respects to the learned Judges of the Madras High Court and other High Courts who have expressed a similar opinion we find ourselves unable to read in the language of Section 7(iv)(f) anything which may help the inference that the intention of the legislature was to bind the defendant-appellant by the valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit. The aforesaid terms of Section 7(iv)(f) only lay down that the plaintiff shall state the amount at which he values the relief sought. There is no express provision that the defendant-appellant shall be bound by the value put by the plaintiff on his suit. At the time the said provision was incorporated in the Court-fees Act no appeal lay against a preliminary decree and as such there was no occasion for the legislature to provide for valuation of a memorandum of appeal by a defen- dant from a preliminary decree. Such a contingency was not in the view of the legislature at that time. Subsequently, the Civil Procedure Code underwent a change and a preliminary decree in a suit of accounts has become appealable. Keeping in view the historical background it would appear that the legislature could not have intended to make any provision for the valuation of an appeal by a defendant from a preliminary decree in a suit for accounts and it seems difficult to interpret Section 7(iv)(i) by implication so as to bind the defendant by tho valuation put by the plaintiff on the suit. In the absence of an express provision in this behalf defendant should be put at par with the plaintiff and should be held entitled to put his own valuation on his memorandum of appeal in such a case.

7. The appellant has paid court-fee on the valuation put by him on the memorandum of appeal and in the view discussed above there is no deficiency of court-fee.

8. Let further proceedings be taken according to rules.


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