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T.S. Rajam Ammal Vs. V.N. Swaminathan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil;Property
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal S.R. No. 23145 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1974Mad152
ActsMadras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955 - Sections 40; Court-fees Act, 1870 - Sections 7; ;Madras Court-fees (Amendment) Act, 1922
AppellantT.S. Rajam Ammal
RespondentV.N. Swaminathan and ors.
Cases ReferredBali Reddi v. Khatipulal Sab
Excerpt:
.....and suits valuation act (xiv of 1955), section 40-scope-expression value in section 40 refers to market value of property on date of plaint; on a perusal of these two statutory provisions to viz., section 7(iv)(a) of the court fees act, 1870 as amended by the madras court-fees (amendment) act (v of 1922) and section 40 of the madras court-fees and suits valuation act, 1955, it is seen that there is no difference in the operative portion of the two sections. consequently, the full bench judgment in bali reddi v. abdul satar (1) is directly in point. hence the appellant will have to pay court-fee on the market value of the items in which he is interested as on the date of the plaint. whenever a decree deals with a property either in the form of declaration of title or in the form of..........has been placed before the court.2. i may immediately point out one thing viz., there is the full bench decision of this court inkutumba sastri v. balatripura sundaramma., 1939-1 mad lj 702 = (air 1939 mad 462) (fb) dealing with the corresponding provision in the earlier act. according to that decision, the appeal has to be valued with reference to the market value of the properties involved and not with reference to the consideration recited in the document. sadasivam, j., in the judgment referred to above, has referred to and followed the full bench decision, while maharajan, j., has not referred to the full bench judgment at all it is in view of this feature alone the matter has come before me before i deal with the full bench judgement and the statutory language on which that.....
Judgment:
1. O.S. No. 51 of 1969 on the file of the court of the Subordinate Judge, Nagapattinam, was instituted for a declaration that the sale deed dated 20-11-1969 executed by Subramania Pillai in favour of the fourth defendant represented by the third defendant, were not binding on the plaintiff and for recovery of the suit Items 1 to 13 from the 1st defendant and Item 14 from the fifth defendant and Items 15 to 19 from the second defendant. The plaint properties were valued by the plaintiff in the suit in the trial court on the market value as on the date of the plaint and not on the consideration mentioned in the sale deeds. It is against the decree passed in that suit, the second defendant in so far as Items 15 to 19 are concerned had purported to file an appeal, he sought to value the subject-matter of the appeal not on the basis of the market value of the items concerned, but on the basis of the consideration recited in the document cancelled by the trial court. The office pointed out that the appeal has to be valued on the basis of the market value of the items in question and not on the basis of the consideration recited in the document. The learned counsel for the proposed appellant relied on a decision of Maharajan, J., in Andalammal v. Kanniah, andcontended that the appeal has to be valued only with reference to the consideration recited in the sale deed and not with reference to the market value of the property involved. Since there is a decision of Sadasivam, J., in Sengoda Nadar v. Doraiswami, holding that the

subject-matter has to be valued with reference to the market value of the properties involved, the matter has been placed before the Court.

2. I may immediately point out one thing viz., there is the Full Bench decision of this court inKutumba Sastri v. Balatripura Sundaramma., 1939-1 Mad LJ 702 = (AIR 1939 Mad 462) (FB) dealing with the corresponding provision in the earlier Act. According to that decision, the appeal has to be valued with reference to the market value of the properties involved and not with reference to the consideration recited in the document. Sadasivam, J., in the judgment referred to above, has referred to and followed the Full Bench decision, while Maharajan, J., has not referred to the Full Bench judgment at all it is in view of this feature alone the matter has come before me before I deal with the full bench judgement and the statutory language on which that decision was rested. I shall refer to a few observations of Maharajan, J. The learned Judge has stated that "I think it fruitless to refer to the conflicting authorities cited at the Bar in support of either view; firstly because the ratio decidendi in each of the authorities cited must be confined to the facts of that particular case, and secondly because most of the authorities were concerned with interpreting the corresponding section in the earlier Act, which in certain respects was worded differently from Section 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955." After making the above observation the learned Judge extracted S. 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act 1955 and on his interpretation of that section he held that the court-fee is payable only on the consideration recited in the document and not on the market value of the property involved. I may draw attention to one or two features with reference to the observation of Maharajan, J., extracted above. One is, not one decision of the court has been actually referred to by the learned Judge in his judgment, though the learned Judge stated that it was fruitless to refer to those authorities. Secondly, it is rather difficult to understand and how a ratio decidendi of a decision construing a section can be confined to the facts of the particular case alone. If the decision was expressly or impliedly rested only on the peculiar facts of the particular case the position may be different. But, when the decision seeks to construe a statutory provision and on the basis of that construction, a conclusion is arrived at as to the court-fee payable, it is difficult to appreciate how the ratio decidendi of that decision can be confined to the facts of that case. The next feature to be observed is that though the learned Judge has stated that the corresponding section in the earlier Act different in certain respects from Section 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955, he has not actually stated in what respects the corresponding section differed from Section 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955.

3. Having made these observations, now I shall set out both the sections and deal with the Full Bench decision referred to already:

S. 7(iv-A) of the Court-fees Act, 1870, as amended by the Madras Court-fees (Amendment) Act, 1922 (Madras Act V of 1922). S. 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955

"In a suit for cancellation of a decree for money or other property having a money value, or other document securing money or other property having such value, according to the value of the subject-matter of the suit, and such value shall be deemed to be-- "(1) In a suit for cancellation of a decree for money or other property having a money value, or other document which purports to or operates to create, declare assign, limit or extinguish, whether in present or in future, any right, title or interest in money, moveable or immovable property, fee shall be computed on the value of the subject-matter of the suit, and such value shall be deemed to be--

If the whole decree or other document is sought to be cancelled, the amount or the value of the property for which the decree was passed or the other document executed. If the whole decree or other document is sought to be cancelled, the amount or value of the property for which the decree was passed or other document was executed;

If a part of the decree or other document is sought to be cancelled, such part of the amount or value of the property. If a part of the decree or other document is sought to be cancelled, such part of the amount or value of the property.

(2) If the decree or other document is such that the liability under it cannot be split up and the relief claimed relates only to a particular item of property belonging to the plaintiff or to the plaintiff's share in any such property, fee shall be computed on the value of such property or share or on the amount of the decree, whichever is less,

Explanation: A suit to set aside an award shall be deemed to be a suit to set aside a decree within the meaning of this section."

4. On a perusal of these two statutory provisions, it will be seen that the only difference in the language is with reference to the description of the documents coming within the scope of this statutory provision. Section 7(iv-A) used a general expression "Other document securing money or other property having such value." That expression gave rise to certain difficulties of interpretation whether it covered only a mortgage and whether it covered conveyance and other documents. That expression has been the subject-matter of interpretation by the Court and in order to avoid any ambiguity and to make it clear that the document referred to in Section 7(iv-A) of the old Act, was intended to cover a large variety of documents, the expression was expanded as it is found in Section 40 of the new Act. Apart form this one difference, there is no other difference in the operative portion of the two sections.

In view of this, the question for consideration will be whether the Full Bench judgment referred to above construing Section 7(iv-A) of the Court-fees Act, 1870, as amended by the Madras Court-fees (Amendment) Act 1922, can be overlooked or ignored for construing Section 40 of the Madras court-fees and Suits Valuation Act 1955. In the Full Bench decision also the suit was for a decree setting aside a conveyance which the plaintiff had executed and for possession of the land covered by the deed, pleading that he had been induced to sign the instrument as a result of undue influence and fraud. The question was whether that has to be valued under Section 7(iv-A) for the purpose of Court-fee and Court-fee should be paid on the market value of the property involved as on the date of the plaint. The argument that was advanced on behalf of the plaintiff in that case was that since a prayer for possession of the property had been made, the suit had to be valued under Section 7(v) and not under Section 7(iv-A). The Full Bench negatived the contention and agreed with the view of Venkatasubba Rao, J., in Bali Reddi v. Khatipulal Sab, ILR 59 Mad 240 = (AIR 1935 Mad 863), and held that the Court-fee has to be paid on the market value of the property as on the date of the plaint. The Full Bench held that--

"The Court fee is to be calculated on the amount or the value of the property and to give the wording of para (iv-A) its plain meaning the valuation must be the valuation based on the market value of the property at the date of the plaint."

Sadasivam, J., in the decision referred to already, viz, the decision in has followed this Full Bench decision. If the Full Bench decision is directly in point. As I pointed out already, the judgment of Maharajan, J., does nor refer to the Full Bench judgment at all and it is not clear whether the attention of the learned Judge was drawn to the Full Bench judgment is directly in point. I have already referred to the fact that there is no difference in the language of Section 7(iv-A) of the earlier Act and Section 40 of the 1955 Act except with regard to the description of the document contemplated by the two sections. Consequently, following the Full Bench judgment I must hold that the appellant will have to pay court-fee on the market value of the items in which he is interested as on the date of the plaint.

5. Independently of the Full Bench decision, even as a matter of construction of Section 40 of the 1955 Act I come to the same conclusion. The section has been extracted in full already and the material part of the section is

"fee shall be computed on the value of the subject-matter of the suit, and such value shall be deemed to be-if the whole decree or other document is sought to be cancelled, the amount or value of the property for which the decree was passed or other document was executed."

Maharajan, J., took the view that the language used is "the amount or value of the property for which the document was executed" and not "the amount or value of the property in respect of which the document was executed" and therefore the consideration recited in the document is the test and not the market value of the property. With great respect, I am unable to agree with this reasoning of the learned Judge. In the portion extracted by me above a common provision is made regarding decree as well as document and if it is split up and applied separately to the decree and the document it will read "such value shall be deemed to be-if the whole decree is sought to be cancelled, the amount or the value of the property for which the decree was passed" and "such value shall be deemed to be-if the other document is sought to be cancelled, the amount or the value of the property for which the other document was executed." It will be seen that the expression 'value of the property' is common to the decree as well as the document. As far as the decree is concerned, no decree is passed in respect of a property for any value. With regard to a property a decree either declares the title of a litigant or directs the delivery of possession or issues an injunction and there is no question of a decree being passed for any property which is the subject-matter, with reference to its value, excepting, perhaps, a final decree in a partition action, when the property involved is valued for the purpose of allotment to different sharers. Whenever a decree deals with a property either in the form of declaration of title or in the form of direction of delivery of possession or in the form of injunction, the value of the property, if it has to be determined, has to be determined independently and the decree itself does not determine the value. Therefore, if the expression 'value of the property' has to be understood with reference to the decree sought to be set aside, the 'value' can only mean 'market value' and nothing else. Only in the case of a document, the document itself recites the value of the property and in the case of settlement it states what the value of the property settled is and in the case of settlement it states what the value of the property settled is and in the case of a conveyance is, but no such feature will be present in the case of a decree. So long as the expression 'value of the property' has been used in common, both with reference to the decree and with reference to the document, as a matter of construction, it must bear only one meaning and it cannot bear one meaning when it is used in relation to the decree and another meaning when it is used in relation to the document. Looked at from this point of view, "value of the property" can only mean the market value as on the date of the plaint as pointed out by the Full Bench referred to above. The pronoun 'which' occurring in the expression 'value of the property for which the decree passed or the other document was executed' relates to 'the property' and not to 'value'. One other reason which appears to have influenced Maharajan, J., in coming to the conclusion which he did, was that the Legislature has expressly used the words" market value' in twelve other sections of the Act in contradistinction to the word 'value' used in Section 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955. In my opinion, this has no significance because even the Court-fees Act of 1870 used the words 'market value' in several other sections as against the word 'value' in Section 7(iv-A). For instance, the expression 'market value' occurs in Section 7(iii), 7(iv)(a), 7(v)(e) etc. Consequently, this cannot be a ground for holding that the expression 'value' in Section 40 of the Madras Court-fees and Suits Valuation Act 1955 can refer only to the consideration recited in the document and not to the 'market value' of the properties involved.

6. For the above reasons, I hold that the second defendant in O.S. 51 of 1969 who has preferred this appeal (S.R. No. 23145) has to pay court-fee on the market value of the items in which he is interested as on the date of the plaint. A fortnight time is given for the appellant to pay the court-fee.

7. Order accordingly.


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