1. This petition raises only a question of court-fee as regards which I find there is no substance at all in the position taken by the petitioner. He is the first defendant and the father-in-law of the first plaintiff who along with her two daughters filed a previous maintenance suit O. S. No. 20 of 1938. This resulted in a compromise decree by which the first plaintiff was given maintenance of Rs. 5 a month and two daughters each Rs. 2-8-0.
She instituted the present suit O. S. No. 295 of 1951 claiming from her father-in-law enhancement at Rs. 125 per month for herself and Rs. 75 for each of her daughters and paid a court-fee of Rs. 262-7-0 on her plaint under Section 7(ii) of the Court-fees Act that is 'ad valorem' court-fee on the annual increase of maintenance she claimed.
2. A preliminary objection was taken and pressed that the suit was not valued correctly for purposes of jurisdiction and court-fee and that it should have been valued under Article 17-B of Schedule II and instituted in the Sub-Court
This objection appears to have been based on -- 'Rajammal v. Thyagaraja Ayyar AIR 1935 Mad 655 (A), a decision of Venkatasubba Rao J., which dealt with a case of a suit by a husband for reduction of maintenance awarded against his wife by roughly Rs. 500 a year. It was held that such a suit did not fall within the scope of Section 7(ii) and would properly come under Article 17-B of Schedule II as one in which it was not possible to estimate at a money value the subject matter in dispute and which was not otherwise provided for by the Act.
The learned Judge took the view that the suit could only be filed in the Sub-Court as the plaintiffs were seeking relief at Rs. 500 a year for a period of 30 years which was the actuarial expectation of the lire of a widow who was only 33 years old and that the relief she claimed was far beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction pf the munsif's court. The judgment contains the following observation :
'The question I have been called upon to decide is a difficult one; but it is not suggested that a better or safer method is available.'
3. Although there might be and, I would with respect say, there is difficulty in bringing a suit for reduction of maintenance by a husband within the scope of Section 7(ii), I do not think this difficulty exists in 'the case of a wife or daughter or other person who has already been given a decree for maintenance to have it increased in a subsequent suit in view of considerably altered circumstances. There is of course no necessity as has been stressed by Venkatasubba Rao J., for the subsequent suit to contain a prayer for cancellation of the previous decree which continues in force until it is modified.
There appears to be no difficulty in bringing such a suit as the plaintiffs have done within the scope of Section 7(ii) and valuing the relief claimed on the annual increase in the rate of maintenance claimed. I am unable to appreciate in fact the objection raised to the court-fee paid on the present plaint. It is regrettable that on this petition filed in January 1953, this maintenance suit instituted in 1951 has been stayed for a further period of two years. The petition is dismissed with costs with a direction to the District Munsif to give this suit now as expeditious a disposal as possible.