1. This Civil Revision Petition is filed against the order of the learned District Judge, East Tanjore at Nagapattinam, in C.M.A. No. 7 of 1957 reversing the decree and judgment of the learned District Munsif in O.S. No. 278 of 1956.
2. The dispute in the case relates to a trust property called Ponnammal samadhi trust and the plaintiff-appellant filed a suit for possession of the plaint-mentioned properties with past mesne profits and future mesne profits against the first defendant that he is entitled to act as trustee of the trust. The contention of the first defendant, among other things, was that the suit was beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of the learned District Munsif. The learned District Munsif upheld this contention and directed the presentation of the plaint to the proper Court having jurisdiction to try the suit. In appeal the learned District Judge came to an opposite conclusion, viz., that the value of the subject-matter of the suit was within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Munsif and he, therefore, directed the District Munsif to take the plaint and restore it to its original number and to dispose the suit according to law.
3. The short point for determination in this revision petition is whether the order of the learned District Judge is correct.
4. On a review of the entire circumstances of the case, I have come to the same conclusion as the learned District Munsif namely that the value of the subject-matter of the suit is beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Munsif's Court.
5. In this connection it is useful to refer to Section 12 of the Civil Courts Act which runs thus:
The jurisdiction of a District Munsif extends to all like suits and proceedings not otherwise exempted from his cognizance, of which the amount or value of the subject-matter does not exceed : five thousand rupees.
6. It is common ground that Court-fee is payable under Section 28 of the Madras Act XIV of 1955 which lays down that
In a suit for possession or joint possession of trust property or for a declaratory decree, whether with or without consequential relief in respect of it between trustees or rival claimants to the office of trustee or between a trustee and a person who has ceased to be trustee, fee shall be computed on one-fifth of the market value of the property subject to a maximum fee of rupees two hundred or where the property has no market value, on rupees one thousand....
In other words the section directs levy of ad valorem fee on one-fifth of the market value of the property subject to a maximum limit of Rs. 200. The market value of the property remains intact and all that is done is for the purpose of Court-fees a concession is shown to the trustees in that they have got to pay Court-fees on one-fifth of the market value of the property and for that the ceiling fixed is Rs. 200.
7. Then we turn to Sections 53(1) and 53(2). Section 53(1) lays down that
In a suit as to whose value for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of Courts specific provision is not otherwise made in this Act or in any other law value for that purpose and value for the purpose of computing the fee payable under this Act shall be the same.
In other words the jurisdictional value as well as the value for the purpose of computation of Court-fee payable will be the same in the circumstances specified in. Section 53(1). If we examine the facts of this case the subject of controversy will fall under Section 53(1). If that is so what is the market value of the property. The market value of the property in the present case is Rs. 20,000. It is true, as already pointed out, that a concession is shown to the trustees in filing suits in respect of trust properties and they are permitted to pay Court-fee only on one-fifth of the market value of the property leaving as it were untouched for purposes of Court-fee the remaining four-fifths. If, therefore, Section 52(1) applies the pecuniary jurisdiction and the Court-fee jurisdiction will be the same. From this point of view the suit will have to be tried only by the District Judge and not by the District Munsif of Nagapattinam.
8. Then we shall turn to Section 53(2) which lays down:
In a suit where fee is payable under this Act at a fixed rate, the value for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of Courts shall be the mirket value or where it is not possible to estimate it at a money value such amount as the plaintiff shall state in the plaint.
The argument before me is that this levy of Court-fee on one-fifth of the market value plus the ceiling of Rs. 200 do not fix the fee payable at a fixed rate because three things are taken into account, proportion on which Court-fee has to be levied, the maximum which could be levied and the rate at which it could be levied so-far as the one-fifth portion is concerned. In view of the fact that the case falls under Section 53(1) it is unnecessary to pursue the matter further though I am not convinced that payment of Court-fee on one-fifth plus a ceiling of Rs. 200 is not a fixed rate. If that were so there is no dispute at all that the pecuniary jurisdiction would be beyond that of the District Munsif and as such the suit would be triable only by the District Judge.
9. Therefore combining Section 28 with sections 53(1) and (2) of the Court-fees Act, 1955, as well as Section 12 of the Civil Courts Act we arrive at the result that the value of the subject-matter of this suit is beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Munsiff.
10. The net result of the analysis is that this Civil Revision Petition is allowed but in the circumstances without costs.