1. The question to be decided is whether the appeal lies to this Court or whether it should be filed in the Court of the District Judge of Chittoor. The appellant valued his suit at Rs. 3,100, but the learned Subordinate Judge being of opinion that in addition to the fee for the declaratory relief an ad valorem fee on a valuation of Rs. 5,862-6-2 had to be paid, gave time for payment of the fee on the value fixed by him and as the fee was not paid, rejected the plaint. The appeal now in question has been filed against the order of the Subordinate Judge rejecting the plaint.
2. Section 13 of the Madras Civil Courts Act provides that ' Appeals from decrees of Subordinate Judge shall lie to the District Court except when the amount or value of the subject-matter of the suit exceeds Rs. 5,000 in which case the appeal shall lie to the High Court.' And it has been long settled that the money value of the suit fixes the jurisdiction for appeal and not the amount or value of the subject-matter in dispute in the appeal, Muthuswami Pillai v. Chidambara Chetti (1874) 7 M.H.C.R. 356. The question therefore is whether the money value of the present suit is the value given by the appellant in his plaint or the value fixed by the learned Subordinate Judge. It is argued that the value of the suit is now the value fixed by the Subordinate Judge because it is on that valuation that the appellant has been directed to pay court-fee. This in my opinion is not the correct view. The value of the suit must be the plaint valuation, and the plaint valuation is the value set on the suit by the plaintiff unless and until his valuation is amended. This, I think, follows from the decision of the Full Bench of this Court in Kunniah Chetti v. Venkatanarasiah (1916) 32 M.L.J. 321 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 1 (F.B.). It is argued that Kunniah Chetti v. Venkatanarasiah (1916) 32 M.L.J. 321 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 1 is distinguishable, because the question under consideration in that case was the forum of appeal in cases, such as suits for an account, in which the plaintiff is at liberty to pay court-fee in the first instance on his own valuation but has ultimately to pay court-fee on the amount decreed. If in the present case the plaint had been amended to agree with the court-fee determined to be payable by the Court, it may be conceded that the decision in Kunniah Chetti v. Venkatanarsish (1916) 32 M.L.J. 321 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 1 would not apply; and indeed the learned Judges who referred the question to the Full Bench themselves distinguished cases in which the court-fee is assumed to be precisely determinable and the plaint is amended to accord with the decision of the Court in regard to the court-fee payable. In the present case, however, the plaint has not been amended. The valuation as determined by the learned Subordinate Judge is in dispute and may be varied by the appellate Court. In my judgment, therefore, the principle enunciated in Kunniah Chetti v. Venkatanarasiah (1916) 32 M.L.J. 321 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 1 namely, that the valuation given in the plaint in the first instance and not a disputed sum which may be varied governs the forum of appeal, applies to the present case. In this view, the appeal must be returned for presentation to the proper Court.