1. Two questions arise for discussion m this Revision Petition. One is as to proper court-fee payable on the plaint and the second is whether the value of the suit for the purpose of jurisdiction is above Rs. 3,000 in which case the suit cannot be entertained by the District Munsif's Court.
2. These two questions form the subject-matter of issues 8 and 9.
3. Issue 8 raises the question whether the suit is properly valued and whether proper court-fee is paid.
4. Issue 9 raises the question whether that Court has jurisdiction to try the suit.
5. The District Munsif of Manamadura before whom the suit was filed, tried these two issues as preliminary issues and held that the suit was properly valued, that proper court-fee was not paid and that he had jurisdiction to try the suit.
6. The dispute between the parties is with regard to an Educational Institution known as Illupaiyur Nadar Kshatriya Vidya Sala situate in the village of Illupaiyur in Pallimadam Taluk of the Ramnad District.
7. The plaint alleges that the plaintiff and defendants 1 to 13 were elected on 25th January, 1936, as members of the School Committee, that at a meeting of the School Committee the first defendant was chosen as the manager of the institution, that the first defendant assumed management of the institution on 19th February, 1936, and that some time later he began to act in defiance of the Committee and did not discharge his duties properly. The plaint states that in order to consider the conduct of the first defendant, a meeting of the School Committee was held on 25th April, 1937, and that on the same day there was also a meeting of the General Body of all the persons in whom the ownership of the institution is said to vest and that due notices of the meeting of the Committee and of the General Body were given to the first defendant. By those notices the first defendant was informed that his conduct would be considered and the question whether he should be in further management of the institution would be decided. The plaint states that the first defendant did not attend the meeting of either body and that both the Committee and the General Body considered the charges against the first defendant and passed a resolution removing him from the office of the Committee member and manager and appointed the plaintiff in his place. The plaint states that after the resolutions of the Committee and of the General Body were duly communicated to the first defendant, the first defendant refused to hand over the management of the institution and was doing various acts likely to seriously endanger the institution.
8. In paragraph 18, the plaintiff asks that the first defendant should be declared to have been validly removed from the office of the membership of the Committee and of the managership of the institution, that the plaintiff may be declared to have been duly appointed as a member of the Committee and as the manager thereof and that as such he alone is entitled to be in management of the school. He asks for a perpetual injunction restraining the first defendant from functioning as the manager of the plaint institution. The plaint further asks that if need be the plaintiff should be put in possession of the office of the managership through process of Court.
9. As regards the prayers for declaration of plaintiff's right and consequential injunction, the suit was valued at Rs. 100 under Section 7(iv)(c) of the Court-Fees Act and a court-fee of Rs. 11-3-0 was paid.
10. The alternative relief of possession of the office of managership is stated in paragraph 17 to be incapable of valuation and the plaintiff valued that relief at Rs. 20 and paid a court-fee of Rs. 2-3-0 thereon.
11. The lower Court accepted the contentions of the plaintiff that the suit was properly valued for the purpose of jurisdiction. The first defendant now comes up in revision and urges that the plaintiff is not entitled to value the relief for possession of the office of managership at Rs. 20 and to pay Rs. 2-3-0 court-fee thereon. First defendant urges that if this relief is really incapable of valuation, the plaintiff cannot value it at Rs. 20 and states that if such a relief is incapable of valuation the fixed court-fee provided under Article 17-B of the II Schedule should be paid and that for the purpose of jurisdiction the suit should be properly valued having regard to the principles governing such cases. The questions that arise for consideration before me are these:
In a case where the plaintiff does not ask for recovery of possession of the school building and its endowments but asks merely for possession of the office of the managership, is it a case where a relief is really incapable of valuation and if so, how should the suit be valued for the purpose of jurisdiction.
12. It is contended by Mr. Rajah Aiyar that a suit for recovery of the office of the managership is in effect and in substance a suit for recovery of possession of the school building and its properties and endowments movable and immovable - and that the Court should treat the suit on the footing that all these reliefs are asked for and require the plaintiff to value the same accordingly and pay the requisite court-fee. With this contention I am unable to agree. The office of the managership of an institution such as the present may no doubt carry with it certain other rights flowing from it, namely, a right to be put in possession of the school building, the right to collect the outstandings due to the institution (it is said there are outstandings of the face value of Rs. 12,000) and also to recover the movable and immovable properties belonging to the institution. The petitioner before me who is the first defendant in Court below, does not claim either the institution or the properties of the institution, as his private property. He, like the plaintiff claims to be entitled to manage the institution and nothing more. In a case where the only question that is involved is the right to manage the institution it is not correct to treat the suit as though it is a suit to recover the school building and its properties, movable and immovable. The question whether any particular property is the property of the institution, is not involved in this suit and it is still open to question in a later proceeding. For aught we know, once the plaintiff's title is established in this suit all the persons who owe money to the institution may recognise the title of the plaintiff and willingly pay him. Similarly the persons who are in actual possession of the properties may put the plaintiff in possession of the same. It may even be that if the first defendant fails in his contention that he is the manager of the institution good sense will prevail and that he would give up possession of the properties of which he is in possession. Further the school building is not in the possession of the first defendant. It is occupied by the pupils of the institution, by the teachers and the other staff and it is an extraordinary contention to advance that the first defendant is in possession of the school building and to require the plaintiff to value the suit on the footing that the first defendant is in physical possession of the building and that plaintiff should ask for recovery of its possession and value the suit under Section 7(5) or other appropriate section of the Act. The petitioner's counsel relied very strongly on the decision of Mr. Justice Madhavan Nair in Syed Mahamad Gouse, In re (1924) 48 M.L.J. 571. There the plaint itself asked in express terms recovery of possession of the properties of the institution. In a suit where the plaintiff is not content with suing for the recovery of the office of trusteeship but chooses to sue for recovery of the properties as well, there is no escape from valuing the relief for possession in accordance with the Act and from paying the appropriate court-fee. This is the real ground of the decision of the learned Judge as will be seen from the order which he passed on a review application which was filed requesting him to review his original judgment. Therein, the learned Judge points out that in the case before him the plaintiff rightly or wrongly asked for actual possession and therefore the plaintiff should value the suit accordingly and pay the requisite court-fee. As the learned Judge says at page 577:
It is not necessary for me to decide whether even in this case the plaintiff is bound to ask for possession. But as possession has been asked for and as the decree also directs that the Durga should be taken possession of, I think the court-fee should be paid under Section 7, Clause 5 of the Court-Fees Act.
13. Similar observations are to be found on page 576 and also in the earlier portions of the judgment. There are, no doubt, some observations in that case which might seem to support the contention of Mr. Raja Aiyar that in all such cases, the plaintiff should in this suit itself ask for possession of the building and of the other properties, value the suit as for possession and pay ad valorem court-fee on the value as determined by Section 7, Clause 5. As the learned Judge ultimately based his judgment on the facts present in that case, namely, that the plaintiff did in fact ask for possession, the observations relied upon by Mr. Raja Aiyar are obiter. As pointed in a very early decision of this Court in Govindan Nambiar v. Krishnan Nambiar I.L.R.(188) 4 mad. 146, a suit such as the present, does not come under Section 7, Clause 5 but really under Article 17, Clause 6 of the II Schedule of the Court-Fees Act. In that case the suit was to depose the karnavan from management and to appoint in his place the plaintiff as the karnavan of the tarwad. The Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Innes held that the suit could not be treated as one for recovery of the family properties, movable and immovable in which case Section 7 would apply and they pointed out that to a suit of that kind, Article 17, Clause 6 of the II Schedule is the article applicable. They say:
The claim for removal of the karnavan is incapable of valuation. Section 17, Clause 6 of the II Schedule is therefore the section under which such suits are to be valued for the purposes of the Court-Fees Act. It would be clearly erroneous to value such a claim as if it were a claim for the recovery of possession of land, for the possession of the property is throughout in the tarwad and is not affected by a change in the person who fills the office of the Manager.
14. I therefore hold that the suit should be treated as one coming under Article 17-B of the II Schedule and that the proper court-fee payable would be Rs. 15 if the suit is filed in the District Munsif's Court or Rs. 100 if in a District Court or a Sub-Court.
15. This brings me to the next question as to how the suit is to be valued for the purpose of jurisdiction. As the Court below has pointed out the properties owned by the institution consist among other things of the school building, and out-standings of the face value of about Rs. 12,000. This question has been the subject of an elaborate discussion in the decision reported in Vasireddi Veeramma v. Butchayya (1926) 52 M.L.J. 381 : I.L.R. 50 Mad. 646 by Mr. Justice Wallace and Mr. Justice Madhavan Nair. As pointed out in pages 651 and 652 by the learned Judges:
The general principles deducible for valuation for purposes of jurisdiction where no special method of valuation has been provided by statute, then, would seem to be (1) that where the subject-matter of the suit is wholly unrelated to anything which can be readily stated in definite money terms, then the plaintiff, having to put some money value for the purpose of jurisdiction, must put a more or less arbitrary value, and there being no factors in the case from which the Court can say his valuation is wrong or dishonest, the Court will accept that valuation....
and (2) that where the subject-matter is so related to things which have a real money value that the relief asked for will affect these, then the value of the suit for the purpose of jurisdiction is to be taken as the market value of the property affected.
16. In this latter case the value must be the market value of the whole of the property affected.
17. Examples of the former class where the subject-matter of the suit is not related to anything which can readily be stated in money value, are a suit for restitution of conjugal rights, a suit for a declaration that the plaintiff is a member of a charity committee. Of the second class we have suits to establish a right to a fishery or a right to a royalty, to set aside an award or to establish or set aside an adoption. In this latter class of cases though the suit is to establish an adoption or a right to a royalty or a right to a fishery, the relief asked for is so related to things which have a real money value that the relief will and must affect those things.
18. The question in this case is, under which class does the present case fall? In para. 16 of his judgment the District Munsiff held that the case comes under the first category. I think he is wrong. It cannot be said that the relief of possession of the office of the managership is not related to things which have a definite money value and that the reliefs do not affect those things. The right to the managership certainly affects the right to be in possession of and to manage the institution and its properties. Hence the value for purpose of jurisdiction is the value of the properties affected.
19. Such properties are certainly worth more than Rs. 3,000. Even apart from the school building there are outstandings of the value of Rs. 12,000.
20. The suit cannot therefore be tried by the District Munsif's Court.
21. The order of the lower Court is set aside and the plaint is directed to be returned to the plaintiff to be presented to the proper Court. I make no order as to costs in the circumstances of this case.