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S. Neelakanda Pillai Vs. K.A. Kunju Pillai - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil;Tenancy
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1935Mad545; 157Ind.Cas.281; (1935)68MLJ506
AppellantS. Neelakanda Pillai
RespondentK.A. Kunju Pillai
Cases ReferredSrinivasa Moorthy v. Venkata Varada Aiyangar I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- - 5. this distinction is very clearly brought out in the judgment of starling, j......to that state. the faridkot court having passed a decree, a brought a fresh suit upon that decree in a british indian court. what the privy council held was, that by international law the decree of the court of fridkot state was an absolute nullity and it should be so regarded by the courts of british india. but an important reservation contained in their lordships' judgment must not be lost sight of:it (the foreign decree) must be regarded as a mere nullity by the courts of other nations except (when authorised by special local legislation) in the country of the forum by which it was pronounced.4. that shows that though by international law such a decree is a nullity, in other words, will not be recognised by courts of other nations, it is nevertheless valid, when authorised by.....
Judgment:

Venkatasubba Rao, J.

1. The question is, whether the Sub-Court of British Cochin has jurisdiction to try this action, which has been brought for the recovery of rent of a house in Cochin State, against the defendant who claims to be a subject of the State of Travancore. For the purpose of this judgment I am assuming that the defednant's allegation that he is not a British Subject, is true, at the time of the suit he was not in British India, but the agreement to pay rent, on which the suit is based, was executed in British Cochin.

2. The first question that arises is, is a suit for rent governed by Section 16 or Section 20 of the Civil Procedure Code? Section 16 provides inter alia that suits of a certain description relating to immoveable property 'shall be instituted in the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situate.' Then there is a proviso which says that a suit to obtain relief respecting immoveable property may be instituted 'either in the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situate or in the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant actually and voluntarily resides or carries on business or personally works for gain.' For the defendant it is contended that suits for rent are governed by this proviso and that the Sub-Court of Cochin has no jurisdiction as neither the property is situate, nor the defendant is residing, within its local limits. I cannot agree with this contention. The short question is, is a suit for rent 'a suit to obtain relief respecting immoveable property?' O'Kinealy, J. points out, in my opinion very rightly, in Rungo Lall Lohea v. Wilson I.L.R.(1898)Cal. 204 that in a suit by a landlord against his tenant for rent 'there is no relief claimed in respect of land nor is it sought to deal with it in any way whatever'. Again in Kunja Mohan Chakravarty v. Manindra Chandra Roy Choudhuri 27 C.W.N. 542 it has been held that a suit for arrears of rent is governed by the provisions of Section 20 and that it may be instituted in any one of the Courts specified in that section. In the present case there can be no question that the cause of action, at least in part, arose in British Cochin where the contract was made and the agreement was executed. The case thus falls within Section 20(c), which provides inter alia that a suit may be instituted within the local limits of whose jurisdiction ' the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises.'

3. The next and the more important point that arises is, whether the application of Section 20 is excluded by reason, of the fact that the defendant is a non-resident foreigner. Mr. Sesha Aiyar for the defendant contends, relying upon the Privy Council decision in the Faridkot case Gurdyal Singh v. Raja of Faridkot that on general principles of International Law, a Court has no jurisdiction to entertain a suit against a nonresident foreigner in respect of personal claims. The proposition so put is much wider than the decision of the Judicial Committee in the case mentioned warrants. In that case A sued B, a native of Jhind State, in the Court of the State of Faridkot, claiming a certain sum alleged to have been misappropriated by B while in A's service at Faridkot. At the date of the suit, B neither resided in Faridkot nor was he a domiciled subject of the Faridkot State nor did he owe allegiance to that State. The Faridkot Court having passed a decree, A brought a fresh suit upon that decree in a British Indian Court. What the Privy Council held was, that by International Law the decree of the Court of Fridkot State was an absolute nullity and it should be so regarded by the Courts of British India. But an important reservation contained in their Lordships' judgment must not be lost sight of:

It (the foreign decree) must be regarded as a mere nullity by the Courts of other nations except (when authorised by special local legislation) in the Country of the forum by which it was pronounced.

4. That shows that though by International Law such a decree is a nullity, in other words, will not be recognised by Courts of other nations, it is nevertheless valid, when authorised by special local legislation, in the Country of the forum by which that decree was pronounced. In the Faridkot case, the question arose when a suit based upon a foreign decree was brought in a British Indian Court, it was held that the Courts in British India would not by International Law recognise the validity of such a foreign decree. Similarly, in Guruswami v. Muhammad Khan Sahib : AIR1933Mad112 it was held that a Court in British India should refuse to execute a decree of a foreign Court passed in an action in personam against a British subject. In the present case the question is not whether, after a decree is passed, a foreign Court will recognise it (that question must, on the authority of Gurdyal Singh v. Raja of Faridkot Muhammad Khan Sahib : AIR1933Mad112 be answered in the negative), but whether a British Indian Court, having regard to Section 20 of the Civil Procedure Code, will pass a decree against a non-resident foreigner when the cause of action has arisen within its local limits.

5. This distinction is very clearly brought out in the judgment of Starling, J., in Girdhar Damodhar v. Kassigar Hiragar I.L.R.(1893)Bom. 662. The learned Judge observes that it would be the duty of the Courts acting in the execution of a statutory enactment, to give effect to it, it being immaterial whether the judgment rendered would in the circumstances be recognised by foreign tribunals as being consistent with International Law and the general principles of justice, and in support of this view he cites the observations of James, L.J., and Cotton, L.J., in Ex parte Blain, In re Sawers (1879) 12 Ch. D. 522. The question arose in this case under 5'. 18 of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act and it was held that the Court's jurisdiction was not excluded by reason of the defendant, who carried on business at Bombay by his agent, being a non-resident foreigner. This case is not a direct authority, as it does not deal with the head of jurisdiction relating to the cause of action but with a different head altogether. But in Ram Ravji Jambhekhar v. Pralhaddas Subkarn I.L.R.(1895)Bom. 133 a plaint was filed in the Bombay High Court with leave to sue under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent. A part of the cause of action having been found to have arisen in Bombay, it was held that the Court had jurisdiction against a non-resident foreigner. The learned judges expressly referred to the passage already cited from the Faridkot case and approved the principle laid down in Girdhar Damodhar v. Kassigar Hiragar I.L.R. (1893)17 Bom. 662. In Rambhat v. Shankar Baswant I.L.R. (1901)25 Bom. 528 the question arose under the Civil Procedure Code and it was held that a British Court could pass a judgment against a non-resident foreigner when the cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of that Court. The previous Bombay cases and the Faridkot case were referred to and followed. The Madras cases cited by Mr. Ananta Aiyar also support this view. Tadepalli Subba Rao v. Nawab Sayed Mir Gulam Allikhan of Banganapalli I.L.R. (1905)Mad. 69, Maistry Rajabhai Narain v. HajiKarim Mamood : (1918)35MLJ189 and Venkatalutchmi Ammal v. Srirungapatnam Srinivasamurthy (1900) 11 M.L.J. 91. In the last mentioned case, the point has been considered at length by Sir Arnold White, C.J. I may also refer to Srinivasa Moorthy v. Venkata Varada Aiyangar I.L.R. (1906)Mad. 239 : 16 M.L.J. 238 where this question has again been fully dealt with.

6. In the result, the lower Court's decision is upheld and the Civil Revision Petition is dismissed with costs.


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