1. The petitioners in this case were defendants in a suit for possession of 3-85 acres of inam land and two houses situated within a municipality. Of the 3.85 acres of land an extent of 2.35 acres was admittedly leased to the municipality during the year previous to the filing of the suit at an annual rental of Rs. 186 for use as a night soil dumping ground. The trial Court valued this portion of the land under Section 7(v)(c) of the Court-Fees Act at 15 times the nett profits, that is to say, at Rs. 2,790. The two houses were valued at Rs200 and the balance of the land was valued at Rs. 1,770, On the basis of this valuation the trial Court held that the suit had been under-valued and that the true value was beyond the jurisdiction of a District Munsif and therefore returned the plaint for re-presentation in the proper Court after paying the deficient court-fee. This decision was the subject of an appeal before the District Judge. The learned District Judge held that the extent of 1-5 acres not occupied by the municipal manure depot had been over-valued and that the annual income from it would be approximately Rs. 75 per acre. This portion of the learned District Judge's decision cannot be canvassed in revision. He also held that the valuation of the houses was correct. With reference to the land occupied by the manure depot he held that the income from the land by reason of this use was in the nature of a windfall in a particular year and could not be taken as the true profit from the land and that in any case a deduction would have to be made on account of loss of value of the land by the removal of top soil when the manure was being carted away. I have gone through the evidence and find nothing whatever to justify the learned District Judge's conclusion that there would be any detriment to the land by reason of the process of storing manure upon it and carting it away. The decision that the, profits of the year previous to the filing of the suit can be excluded from consideration because they partake of the nature of a windfall, seems to me to run directly contrary to the wording of Section 7(v)(c) of the Court-Fees Act which prescribes:
Where nett profits have arisen from-the land during the year next before the date of presenting the plaint, fifteen times such nett profits.
2. This section does not give to the Court any option to consider whether or not the nett profits for the year preceding the presentation of the plaint are exceptional or unusual. On behalf of the respondents it has been contended on the basis of a decision in Ghasi Ram v. Har Gobind I.L.R.(1906) All. 411, that it must be positively proved that the rental amount for this manure depot was actually received during the 365 days preceding the presentation of the plaint. I find from the evidence and from the judgments of the lower courts that it seems to have been conceded on both sides that this lease amount was paid within the year previous to the filing of the suit. At any rate there is no suggestion that it was not so paid, and it is too late to raise the point now.
3. It is, however, contended also that this Court has no power in revision to interfere with a decision in a matter of court-fee which is favourable to the plaintiff and the cases in The Secretary of State for India in Council v. Raghunathan : AIR1933Mad506 and Manaithunainatha Desikar v. Gopala Chettiar : AIR1939Mad380 have been quoted before me. The answer to this contention is that we are not here concerned with the simple question of how much court-fee the plaintiff shall pay. The basic question is whether the District Munsif has jurisdiction to try this suit if it is properly valued. The order which was on appeal before the learned District Judge was one returning the plaint on the ground that the District Munsif had no jurisdiction to try, this suit and requiring the plaint to be filed in a superior Court after paying the deficient court-fee. It has been argued that the District Judge certainly had jurisdiction to decide whether or not the plaint was rightly returned and that Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure only empowers the High Court to interfere with a decision of a court below which has exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law or has failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested or has acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity. The argument is that when an appellate Court acting in its admitted jurisdiction makes an erroneous decision regarding the jurisdiction of a court below it, there is no ground for interference in;, revision. This contention runs directly contrary to the decision/of a Full Bench of this Court in Atchayya v. Sri Seetharamachandra Rao (1912) 24 M.L.J. 112 : I.L.R. 39 Mad. 195 , where Wallis, C.J., held that such an order comes within the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court by virtue of Section 115(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure. This decision has been followed by a Bench of this Court in Kattiya Pillai v. Ramaswamia Pillai : AIR1929Mad396 , where the question of jurisdiction raised expressly depended on a decision as to the proper court-fee. It is needless to say that there are strong practical grounds for interfering to prevent the trial of a case by a Court which has no jurisdiction, when an appellate Court has wrongly directed this Court to assume a jurisdiction which it has not got.
4. In the result therefore I allow the revision petition with costs and hold that the proper valuation of the suit should be on a value of Rs. 3,575 made up as set forth in the revision petition and that the trial court's order returning the plaint for presentation in a Court having jurisdiction after paying the proper court-fee thereon is correct, subject to the alteration in the valuation of the suit hereby indicated.