1. The plaintiffs brought these suits for a declaration that the decrees in two other suits were not binding on them and for a permanent injunction restraining the decree holders from executing those decrees. The decrees were passed by a Subordinate Judge and the present suits were filed in the District Munsif's Court. The plaintiffs valued the relief claimed by them under Section 7, Sub-section 4, Clause (c), of the Court Fees Act and filed the suits, as stated, in the District Munsif's Court according to that valuation. It may be mentioned that they had originally filed the same suits in the Subordinate Judge's Court but on insufficiently stamped plaints, and afterwards withdrew the plaints. That does not, however, make any difference in the question we have to consider.
2. It has been decided by a Bench of this Court, after a very elaborate discussion of the law, in Arunachellam Chetty v. Sabapathy Chetty 41 Ind. Cas. 937 that a suit to obtain a declaration that a decree passed by a Court was obtained by fraud and was not binding on the plaintiff can be laid in a Court of inferior jurisdiction to the Court which passed the decree, provided the subject-matter is otherwise within the jurisdiction of the Court where the suit is instituted. The decision seems to be supported by authorities and nothing has been urged against the soundness of that view.
3. The real question argued is that the valuation for purposes of jurisdiction ought to be according to the amount of the decree and not at the option of the plaintiffs. This point, however, is covered by a recent Full Bench ruling of this Court in Arunachalam Chetty v. Rangasamy Pillai (1915) M.W.N. 118 ; 28 M.L.J 118 where it is held that a suit for a declaration that a decree is not binding as having been obtained by fraud comes within Section 7, Sub-section 4, Clause (c), of the Court Fees Act and that the Court-fee payable thereon will be on the value at which the suit is valued in the plaint. That is a decision binding on us and it cannot make any difference in this respect that other High Courts, if the contention of the respondent is correct, have taken a different view.
4. Then, if Section 7, Sub-section 4, Clause (c), applies, as we hold that it does, following Arunachalam Chetty v. Rangasamy Pillai (1915) M.W.N. 118 ; 28 M.L.J 118 to a suit of this nature, another Full Bench decision of this Court in Ramiah v. Ramasawmi 18 Ind. Cas. 363 has laid down that Courts cannot reject for purposes of jurisdiction the valuation made by a party for purposes of Court-fee of the relief sought by him in a suit for partition of properties of which he claims to be in joint possession along with his co-parceners, even if such valuation is proved to be not a bona fide but an arbitrary valuation. That was in a suit for partition, but the same principle applies to a suit like this, that is to say, where a party is allowed under Section 7, Sub-section 4, to value a suit as be chooses, that valuation is also good for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of the Court in which the suit is to be filed.
5. The result will be that this appeal must be allowed and the decrees of the lower Courts set aside so far as defendants other than the 1st defendant are concerned and the case will have to be disposed of on the remaining issues. We may mention that the 1st defendant died while the appeal was pending in the lower Appellate Court and his legal representatives were not made parties to the second appeal and the time has long since passed. We do not think that this was a case in which the delay which was clearly due to the negligence of the appellants should be excused. Costs will follow the result.