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Sri Rajah Ravu Venkata Mahipathi Gangadhara Rama Rao Bahadur Garu, Yuvarajah of Pithapuram and anr. Vs. the Province of Madras Represented by the Collector of East Godavari - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1946)2MLJ282
AppellantSri Rajah Ravu Venkata Mahipathi Gangadhara Rama Rao Bahadur Garu, Yuvarajah of Pithapuram and anr.
RespondentThe Province of Madras Represented by the Collector of East Godavari
Cases ReferredTirumal Rao v. Subramania A.I.R.
Excerpt:
- - there can be no doubt that the sub-clause referred to does lay down the condition that the appellate court must be satisfied, for reasons to be recorded by it in writing that the under-valuation has prejudicially affected the disposal of the suit on the merits. in dealing with a civil revision petition, the learned judge accepted the finding that there was an under-valuation and held that the district munsiff had failed to determine certain questions and wrongly decided certain others and set aside the decree and directed the return of the plaint so that it might be presented to the proper court......plaintiffs urge that as the subordinate judge has not found, as required by section 11(b) of the suits valuation act that the under-valuation has prejudicially affected the disposal of the suit on the merits, he had no right to entertain the plea of jurisdiction and act upon it by directing that the plaint should be presented to the proper court. there can be no doubt that the sub-clause referred to does lay down the condition that the appellate court must be satisfied, for reasons to be recorded by it in writing that the under-valuation has prejudicially affected the disposal of the suit on the merits. in the absence of such a finding, it is not open to the appellate court to decline to hear the appeal merely because the suit was under-valued. this is what section 11 says in.....
Judgment:

Chandrasekhara Aiyar, J.

1. This is an appeal by the plaintiffs from an order of the Subordinate Judge of Amalapuram holding that the suit which was tried by the District Munsiff of Razole was beyond his pecuniary jurisdiction and directing the plaint to be returned for presentation to the proper Court. The Province of Madras which was the defendant in the suit raised an objection to the valuation of the suit and contended that the plaintiffs under-valued the properties. The District Munsiff held on this issue that the suit was properly valued and was within the pecuniary jurisdiction of his Court. He decided the merits of the suit in favour of the plaintiffs, and granted the declaration and injunction sought. On appeal the Subordinate Judge came to the conclusion on the question of jurisdiction that the suit was undervalued and without going into the merits of the other issues raised in the suit he directed the return of the plaint to the proper Court as stated already. He refrained from deciding the other issues deliberately and not inadvertently; he states in paragraph 13 of his judgment,

As this Court is to try this suit, it is not desirable to express my decision on the merits.

2. The plaintiffs urge that as the Subordinate Judge has not found, as required by Section 11(b) of the Suits Valuation Act that the under-valuation has prejudicially affected the disposal of the suit on the merits, he had no right to entertain the plea of jurisdiction and act upon it by directing that the plaint should be presented to the proper Court. There can be no doubt that the sub-clause referred to does lay down the condition that the appellate Court must be satisfied, for reasons to be recorded by it in writing that the under-valuation has prejudicially affected the disposal of the suit on the merits. In the absence of such a finding, it is not open to the appellate Court to decline to hear the appeal merely because the suit was under-valued. This is what Section 11 says in unmistakable terms. When this difficulty was pointed out to the learned Subordinate Judge, he got over it by stating that the objection to jurisdiction had been taken at the earliest stage and that the finding given by the lower Court about the value of the property was patently against the facts. But neither of these grounds is sufficient to support the order made by him. If the objection had not been taken at the earliest possible opportunity, it could never have been entertained at all. The fact that it was so taken does not mean that the other condition required by the section can be overlooked. The fact that the District Munsiff erred in thinking that the lands were waste lands while really they were cultivable lands and thus arrived at a wrong conclusion on their value means nothing more than that we have a decision before us in which the under-valuation of the properties of the plaintiffs was wrongly held to be correct. In other words, it is a decision which appertains to the issue as to jurisdiction. The section, however, requires something more, namely, that there must not only be a defect of jurisdiction by reason of an under-valuation but also a disposal of the suit on the merits which has been prejudicially affected by such an under-valuation. The Subordinate Judge has not considered the question whether there has been any such disposal and he had no right on the materials placed before him to hold straightaway that as there was an under-valuation the plaintiffs must go to another Court.

3. What exactly is the meaning to be attached to the words of this Sub-clause (b) which requires that the over-valuation or under-valuation of the suit must have prejudicially affected the disposal on the merits is rather difficult to say or determine. It should be noted that as the words stand it is not enough for the party concerned' to prove that the decision of the suit is wrong or that some of the points in dispute have not been correctly determined. He must go further and show that the undervaluation has affected the disposal on the merits prejudicially; he must establish an intimate connection between the under-valuation and the wrong disposal on the merits. It is not easy on the spur of the moment to give a proper illustration of this condition. But it may be stated that one such case is possibly what is referred to by the Allahabad High Court in Moolchand Motilal v. Ram Kishen I.L.R.(1933) All. 315 . An undervaluation of the suit sometimes enables it to be tried as a suit of a small cause nature with all the concomitant brevity attached to such a trial as against a trial of the suit as an original suit with the obligation thrown on the Court to follow a more elaborate procedure of pleadings, the framing of issues, and the taking down of depositions in full and so on and so forth.

4. What is not to be regarded as a prejudicial disposal has been considered in several cases. One of them is found in a Full Bench decision of our High Court in Kelu Achan v. Cheriya Parvathi Nethiar : (1923)45MLJ135 , where the argument was that because of the under-valuation the party had been deprived of the privilege of a trial before a Subordinate Judge from whose decision an appeal would lie on the facts to the High Court. The learned Judges who delivered the opinion of the Full Bench point out that this is not the kind of prejudicial disposal contemplated by Sub-clause (b). The learned Government Pleader drew my attention to the decision of Kumaraswami Sastri,J., in Tirumal Rao v. Subramania A.I.R. 1920 Mad. 843, but this is hardly of any help. In dealing with a civil revision petition, the learned Judge accepted the finding that there was an under-valuation and held that the District Munsiff had failed to determine certain questions and wrongly decided certain others and set aside the decree and directed the return of the plaint so that it might be presented to the proper Court. So far as I am able to see, it did not decide how the wrong decision of the Munsiff on the merits could be said to have had anything to do with the under-valuation of the suit. The necessity for the inter-relation of the two things which is required to be established by the statute was not borne in mind by the learned judge, if I may say so with great respect. Moreover, that case is of no help in the present case because as stated already the learned Subordinate Judge has not even held that the decision of the Munsiff on the merits was in any way wrong. He did not go into the questions at all as he thought that the matter should be dealt with by the Court to which the plaint must be presented.

5. The order is obviously wrong and must be set aside. There can be no prejudice to the Government, apart from any technicalities, in the Subordinate judge dealing with the appeal because even in the event of the order being upheld if it had been possible to do so, all that the Government would get is a hearing by the Subordinate Judge. They will get such a hearing now on appeal though not as in the Court of first instance. The argument that by the adoption of this procedure they would be deprived of going before the High Court on first appeal and insisting on a hearing on the facts cannot be entertained in view of the Full Bench decision already referred to, reinforced as it is by the view taken by the Allahabad Full Bench case.

6. The appeal is allowed and the lower appellate Court is directed to take back Appeal No. 65 of 1944 on its file and dispose of it according to law. Any question; of court-fee which may be raised by the Government will of course have to be decided by the lower Court. The appellants will get their costs of this appeal from the respondent. The costs in the lower Court will abide the ultimate result.


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