1. Of the above applications C.M.Ps. Nos. 3752 to 3756 are applications for leave to appeal to His Majesty in Council against the common judgment and respective decrees in Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 55 to 59 of 1946. They must be now treated as applications for leave to appeal to the Federal Court. C.M.P. No. 3751 of 1947 is an application for the consolidation of the several appeals for purposes of pecuniary valuation, furnishing of security and deposit of printing charges and hearing. It is represented that the matter involved in C.M.P. No. 3756 has been settled.
2. These petitions have been posted before a Full Bench for a decision on the main question arising from C.M.P. No. 3751 of 1947, namely, whether the several appeals could be consolidated for the purposes of pecuniary valuation. There is a further question if leave is eventually granted, whether the appeals could be consolidated even for purposes of security and deposit of printing and other charges provided in Order 45, Rule 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure, so that one set of security and printing and other charges would be sufficient. It is admitted that the subject-matter of each appeal by itself is not of the value of Rs. 10,000 or upwards.
3. The only provision of law directly applicable to the matter is Order 45, Rule 4, of the Code of Civil Procedure which runs thus:
For the purposes of pecuniary jurisdiction, suits involving substantially the same questions for determination and decided by the same judgment may be consolidated; but suits decided by separate judgments shall not be consolidated, notwithstanding that they involve substantially the same questions for determination.
It cannot be denied that the several suits out of which the appeals have arisen involve the same question for determination, namely, whether the lands situate in the village of Moggulla agraharam are lands situate in an ' estate ' within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act as amended by Madras Act XVIII of 1936 and Madras Act II of 1945. The determination of this question would depend upon whether the original, grant in favour of the predecessor of the several plaintiffs was the grant of an entire village.
4. It is also clear that the suits were decided by the same judgment. Certainly there is a common judgment in the Letters Patent Appeals, in the Second Appeals and in the First Appeals to the Subordinate Judge's Court. In the District Munsiff's Court, the suits were tried together and evidence was adduced only in one of the suits as evidence common to all the suits. What the District. Munsiff did was to deliver a judgment in the suit in which the evidence was recorded and to incorporate extracts of the findings from that judgment in the judgments of the other suits. In substance, however, it must be considered that the suits were all decided by the same judgment. In Chandra Mouleswara Prasad Bahadur v. Secretary of State for India : AIR1932Mad125 it was held that the word ' judgment' in Order 45, Rule 4, means the judgment, appealed against, that is, the judgment of this Court and that the provision of that rule applies to a case in which the suits were decided by the High Court by the same judgment though they were not decided by the same judgment in the lower Court. But in our opinion, even if it is necessary for an application of that rule that the suits should have been decided even in the lower Courts by the same judgment, that condition is satisfied in this case. In that case though there were two separate judgments in the lower Court, a comparison of the so-called separate judgments showed that the second judgment was practically a copy of the first judgment re-written omitting a few sentences or paragraphs. We respectfully agree with the observations of Ramesam, J., as regards the nature of such judgments:
In a matter of this kind we think we should look to the spirit of the rule and not the letter I think that the judgments of the lower Court must be regarded as the same judgment.
On the plain language of Order 45, Rule 4, it appears to us that the case before us directly fails within its scope and the petitioners would be entitled to an order for consolidation of the several suits for the purposes of pecuniary valuation.
5. A decision of a Bench of this Court in Ramachandra Raju v. Appayya (1915) L.W. 916 was brought to our notice as leading to a different conclusion. In that case there were four petitions for leave to appeal to His Majesty in Council against the decrees of the High Court in four appeals. In none of the appeals taken separately was the amount or value of the subject-matter Rs. 10,000 or upwards, but a common judgment was pronounced in all the suits and the aggregate value of the suits exceeded Rs. 10,000. But the learned Judges held that this fact would make no difference and that the applicants were not entitled to a certificate under section No. One important fact cannot be overlooked in dealing with this decision, namely, that there was no application to the Court for a consolidation of the appeals for purposes of pecuniary valuation under Order 45, Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Though no doubt it was argued for the petitioners that the judgment was common to all the suits and their aggregate value was over Rs. 10,000, the provisions of Order 45, Rule 4 do not appear to have been brought to the notice of the Court. In our opinion, this decision cannot be treated as authority for the position that even when several suits are decided by a common judgment and involve substantially the same questions for determination, they cannot be consolidated for purposes of pecuniary valuation. If so treated, it would be in direct conflict with the statutory provision of Order 45, Rule 4.
6. The latest pronouncement of the Privy Council in Pethu Reddiar v. Rajambu Ammal (1948) 2 M.L.J. 25 : L.R. 75 IndAp 153 (P.C.) supports our view. In that case the High Court decreed a suit setting aside fourteen sales and a power of attorney and granted leave to appeal to the Privy Council to three vendees only as regards the sales in their favour Pethu Reddiar v. Rajambu Ammal : (1946)1MLJ245 . The value of all the properties in dispute on appeal to the Board exceeded in the aggregate the sum of Rs. 0,000 though the subject-matter of the appeals separately did not exceed that amount in each case. A preliminary objection was taken before the Privy Council that the High Court had no power to grant leave, because the case of each appellant must be regarded separately and so regarded the appeals were not of the required value. This objection was overruled as on the facts of the case there was indeed only one matter in dispute and therefore plurality of appellants was not material.
7. Even if the petitioners are allowed to consolidate the suits for the purposes of pecuniary valuation, the requirements of Section 110 of the Code of Civil Procedure will not be satisfied on the valuation in the Courts below. But the petitioners will not be precluded from showing that the real value of the subject-matter in these appeals is different from the Court-fee value (vide Chandra Mouleswara Prasad Bahadur v. Secretary of State for India : AIR1932Mad125 . A report must therefore be called for from the District Munsiff of Bhimavaram our the market value of the Kudivaram interest in the lands forming the subject-matter of the four appeals covered by C.M. Is. Nos. 3752, 3753, 3754 and 3755. The report should be sent up before 18th July, 1949. One week for objections. After the receipt of the report, the applications will be posted before a Division Bench.
8. There still remains the question whether as a result of the consolidation of the four appeals which we have permitted under Order 45, Rule 4, in case eventually the petitioners are able to obtain leave to appeal to the Federal Court, they should furnish the security and deposit the amount required to defray expenses of translation, etc., separately in each of the appeals under Order 45, Rule 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In Ponnammal v. Rajambu Ammal : (1945)1MLJ73 a Bench of this Court consisting of Somayya and Chandrasekhara Ayyar, JJ., held that there was no provision of law empowering the High Court to consolidate appeals for the purposes of furnishing security for costs and depositing printing charges in connection with appeals to the Privy Council. The learned Judges followed the ruling of the Bombay High Court in Venkat Rao v. Srinivas Rao : AIR1944Bom352 ., in which reliance was placed on an earlier case of the Patna High Court in Mussamat Bibi Nabi Zohra v. Rai Baijnath Goenka Bahadur (1919) 4 Pat. L.J. 198. It is quite true that there is no express provision of law corresponding to Order 45, Rule 4 permitting consolidation in respect of denosit of printing charges or furnishing security. Rule 7 of the Privy Council Rules of 1920 ran as follows:
Where there are two or more appeals arising out of the same matter and the Court is of opinion that it would be for the convenience of the Lords of the Judicial Committee and all parties concerned that the appeals should be consolidated, the Court may direct the appeals to be consolidated.
But it will be noticed that this does not expressly refer to security or printing deposit.
9. With great respect to the learned Judges in Ponnammal v. Rajambu Ammal (1919) 4 Pat. L.J. 198, we think, that the proper way of looking at the matter is not to search for a special provision permitting consolidation for purposes of security. Under Order 45, Rule 4, two appeals each of which might not be of the required value of Rs. 10,000 and above may, for.the purposes of pecuniary valuation, be consolidated and when the aggregate value fulfils the condition as to valuation, leave may be granted. The result would be that notionally the two appeals after such consolidation would amount to one appeal, i.e., one consolidated appeal. Actually in practice only one number is given by the Privy Council in such cases. If that is the position,. then, the proper construction, of Rule 7 of Order 45 would be that the applicant or applicants who has or have been granted leave to file a consolidated appeal should furnish security and deposit the amount required to defray the experses of translation, etc., in respect of the consolidated appeal. If after consolidation, the position is that there is only one appeal to the Privy Council or the Federal Court, then the applicant or applicants can be asked to furnish security and deposit printing and translation charges only once. It may be that having regard to the number of appeals consolidated and the number of respondents in the several appeals, the Court may direct security for a sum in excess of Rs. 4,000. Rule 108 of the Appellate Side Rules provides that:
The security to be furnished under Order 45, Rule 7(1)(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure, shall, unless otherwise ordered, be in the sum of Rs. 4,000 in cash or in Government securities of the approximate market value in the sum of Rs. 4,000.
The Court can order in a proper case that a sum in excess of Rs. 4,000 shall be furnished as security. So far as printing and other charges are concerned, it appears to be unreasonable that separate amounts should be deposited in each of the appeals which have been consolidated into one appeal. Except in special cases, one deposit would suffice.'
10. Though this question does not arise in this case immediately we have answered it because it is. concerned with the practice to be followed in a number of cases.