1. The petitioner is the first defendant. He was sued by the plaintiff who claimed to be a reversioner to the estate of one Malayappa Nadar on the death of his daughter Thillaiammal who died in 1943. Malayappa in his lifetime sold a half share in the suit property which is a plot of land 266 acres in extent in the village of Usilampatti in Mathurai district. Subsequent to his death, the first defendant, which incidentally is a Nadar trust institution, purchased the other half share from Thillaiammal in 1919. It is this half share which the plaintiff as a distant reversioner seeks to recover. The District Munsiff held that he was entitled to file this suit on a court-fee of Rs. 2-3-0 paying ten times the assessment of Rs. 4 per acre as on land governed by Section 7, Clause v(b).
2. The history of the case is rather extraordinary as the same learned Distric Munsiff returned a prior plaint filed in O.S. No. 335 of 1945 by this very same plaintiff for precisely the same relief as reversioner for presentation to the Subordinate Judge's Court holding the suit to be beyond his financial jurisdiction. In that previous plaint the plaintiff who is the present respondent valued this same site at Rs. 300 describing it as ' natham ' or house: site. A member of the Bar was appointed Commissioner who valued this land at Rs. 50 per cent. He also found no less than 38 buildings of various descriptions on this site which he valued separately at about a lakh of rupees. The prior plaint was returned on 10th August, 1946, and then without any attempt to represent the plaint in the Sub-Court, in 1947 the plaintiff filed a fresh plaint in the District Munsiff's Court under a fresh inspiration treating it under Section 7, Clause v(b) and taking it into an absurd extreme in the payment of court-fee. The learned District Munsiff, however, admitted the plaint which was, in due course, rightly objected to by the court-fee examiner on the ground that court-fee should be paid on half the market value of the site, including the buildings thereon. The learned District Munsiff in a long finding overruled the court-fee examiner's objections and held, despite the fact that the plaintiff had previously described this same site as house site or natham poromboke, that he was within his rights in treating it as ordinary land in a village and valuing it under Clause v(b). He failed to realise the existence of all these buildings on this site. Mr. Vaidhyanatha Iyer for the respondent urges that the plaintiff only seeks a half share in this site which may at the time of partition exclude any building on the site at all. This argument is untenable as if an undivided half share in the land is sought in the suit; the land as a whole has to be valued for purposes of both court-fee and jurisdiction.
3. I have no hesitation in setting aside the finding of the learned District Munsiff as untenable and quite incorrect. The court-fee examiner's objection must be sustained. The correct court-fee payable on this suit is on half the market value of the entire site under Section 7, Clause v(e). The learned District Munsiff should not have so lightly admitted a second plaint on his file, seeking precisely the same relief on the same land after having returned the first plaint for presentation to a higher Court. A plaintiff should not be permitted to twist the language of his plaint in this manner for the purposes of evading court-fee.
4. The petition is allowed and this plaint is also directed to be returned for presentation to the higher Court having jurisdiction.
5. The petition is, in the result, allowed with costs in this Court only.