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Thadi Chandrayya and ors. Vs. Vaitla Seethanna and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1940Mad689; (1940)1MLJ590
AppellantThadi Chandrayya and ors.
RespondentVaitla Seethanna and anr.
Cases ReferredWuppuluru Neelachalam v. Narasinga Das
Excerpt:
- .....1929, he filed a plaint in the court of the district munsif and asked for possession of the suit properties from the appellants, who were in possession under the alienations created by pullamma. in the plaint, the properties were described in two schedules, a and b. the properties in schedule a were valued at rs. 693 and the mesne profits thereof at rs. 2,040. the properties in schedule b were valued at rs. 250. in their written statement the appellants challenged the correctness of the valuation of the properties in b schedule. they contended that there had been gross under valuation. the consequence was that the district munsif directed the appointment of a commissioner to estimate the value of the properties. but the plaintiff deliberately abstained from taking out the.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The question which arises in this appeal is one of limitation. The suit was filed by the first respondent in the Court of the District Munsif of Ramachandrapur. He was the reversioner to the estate of one Ramanna, which after Ramanna's death devolved upon his daughter Pullamma. The reversion opened on the 3rd July, 1916, when Pullamma died. The first respondent was born on the 1st November, 1908, and therefore attained his majority on 1st November, 1926, which gave him until 1st November, 1929, in which to file the suit. On the 30th October, 1929, he filed a plaint in the Court of the District Munsif and asked for possession of the suit properties from the appellants, who were in possession under the alienations created by Pullamma. In the plaint, the properties were described in two schedules, A and B. The properties in schedule A were valued at Rs. 693 and the mesne profits thereof at Rs. 2,040. The properties in schedule B were valued at Rs. 250. In their written statement the appellants challenged the correctness of the valuation of the properties in B schedule. They contended that there had been gross under valuation. The consequence was that the District Munsif directed the appointment of a Commissioner to estimate the value of the properties. But the plaintiff deliberately abstained from taking out the commission, and from this conduct the District Munsif drew the legitimate inference that the aggregate value of the properties mentioned in the plaint was over Rs. 3,000 and he therefore held that he had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. On 6th August, 1930, the District Munsif accordingly returned the plaint to the first respondent for presentation to the Court of the Subordinate Judge. The first respondent took the plaint away, amended it by striking out his claim for possession of the properties mentioned in B Schedule, and later in the day re-presented it to the District Munsif. On the 11th August, 1930, the District Munsif again returned the plaint to the first respondent as he considered that it was a new suit and which necessitated the riling of a new vakalat. On the 14th August, 1930, the first respondent's pleader re-presented the plaint without filing a fresh vakalat. He contended that the plaint was a continuation of the plaint which was presented on the 30th October, 1929. On the 15th August, 1930, the Court once more returned the plaint to the first respondent, intimating that it must be treated as a fresh suit. On that date the first respondent's pleader re-presented it with an application that the amendment which he had made might be allowed and the plaint approved. He also asked that the plaint should retain its old number. The District Munsif agreed to this course and passed a formal order of the nature indicated.

2. The only question which arises now is whether the suit must be deemed to have been instituted on the 30th October, 1929, when the original plaint was presented, or on the 6th August, 1930, when the plaint was re-presented after it had been returned by the District Munsif for filing in the proper Court and had been amended by the elimination of Schedule B and the relief claimed in respect of the properties therein mentioned. The District Munsif held that the suit must be deemed to have been filed on the 6th August, 1930, and therefore was barred by the law of limitation. On appeal the Subordinate Judge of Rajahmundry held that the suit was in time, as in his opinion the correct date was 30th October, 1929. On second appeal Wadsworth, J., agreed with the Subordinate Judge, but gave a certificate for a further appeal under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. The learned Judge considered that the filing of the amended plaint on the 6th August, 1930, must be deemed to be a continuation of the suit which was filed on the 30th October, 1929 and therefore was in time.

3. We are of the opinion that the District Munsif was right and that the date of the institution of the suit must be taken to be 6th August, 1930. In Kannuswami Pillai v. Jagathambal : (1918)35MLJ27 Sadasiva Aiyar, J., held that when a Court of first instance has decided that a suit is beyond its jurisdiction it has no power to pass any other judicial order, except those which statute expressly empowers it to pass, such as an order returning the plaint for presentation to the proper Court under Order 7, Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure or an order awarding costs under Section 35 of the Code. We agree with this statement. A Court which has no jurisdiction cannot pass orders in the suit beyond directing the plaint to be presented to the proper Court and giving a direction with regard to the costs incurred up to the time of the return of the plaint. The opinion of Sadasiva Aiyar, J., was shared by Venkatasubba Rao, J., in Govindaraju Naicker v. Kassim Sahib (1927) 54 M.L.J. 409.

4. In Nayinakannu v. Madureswara : (1895)5MLJ58 , a Bench of this Court, consisting of Collins, C.J. and Parker, J., had to deal with a case on all fours with the present one. The Court there held that the date of the suit was the date when the plaintiff presented to the Court a plaint which accorded with its jurisdiction. In that case the plaintiffs filed their suit in, the Court of the District Munsif for certain offices in a temple and their emoluments. The case was carried to this Court which ordered the plaint to be returned for presentation to the proper Court, namely, the Court of the Subordinate Judge. Instead of presenting the plaint to the Subordinate Judge the plaintiffs abandoned part of their claim so as to bring it within the jurisdiction of the Munsif's Court and re-presented the plaint to the District Munsif's Court. The Bench agreed with the Subordinate Judge that the plaintiffs were not entitled to the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Act in the circumstances of the case. The first plaint was returned as the suit as framed was beyond the jurisdiction of the District Munsif's Court. The plaintiffs had then abandoned part of their claim and had sued again In the same Court which they might have done at first. In the circumstances it was held that the suit was barred.

5. In the course of his judgment Wadsworth J., referred to Karumbayira Ponnapundan v. Authimoola Ponnapundan I.L.R. (1909) 33 Mad. 262, Ramachandrayya v. Venkataratnam (1925) 22 L.W. 582 and Varada Pillai v. Thillai Govindaraja Pillai : AIR1931Mad8 . The judgments in these cases are not really in point. In Karumbayira Ponnapundan v. Authimoola Ponnapundan I.L.R.(1909) 33 Mad. 262, the plaintiff filed a plaint in the District Munsif's Court and it was returned to him as he had undervalued the properties claimed. If they had been properly valued the value would have exceeded the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court. After the plaintiff had obtained possession of the plaint he struck out part of the relief claimed and in this way brought the value of the suit within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Munsif's Court. He then presented it to the District Munsif who accepted it. Oa an application for revision Abdur Rahim, J., held that there was nothing, illegal in the amendment and that it was competent to the Court to accept the amended plaint. But in this case there was no question of limitation. The Court was not called upon to decide whether the date of the presentation was the date when the plaint was originally filed or when the plaint was re-presented after amendment. Therefore we cannot regard this decision as conflicting with the opinion which I have just expressed. In Ramachandrayya v. Venkataratnam (1925) 22 L.W. 582, the plaintiff was allowed to amend his plaint to bring it within the jurisdiction of the District Munsif's Court where he had filed it, instead of having the plaint returned to him for presentation to the Court of the Subordinate Judge. The District Munsif allowed the plaint to be amended, and the question was whether his order was passed without jurisdiction. Odgers, J., held that the District Munsif had jurisdiction. It is unnecessary to consider whether this decision is right. Here again there was no question of limitation. Varada Pillai v. Thillai Govindaraja Pillai : AIR1931Mad8 calls for no comment.

6. On behalf of the respondent a further case has been quoted to us, namely, the decision of Jackson, J., in Wuppuluru Neelachalam v. Narasinga Das (1931) 34. L.W. 252. There the plaintiff had not paid the proper court-fee and he was ordered to provide the additional stamp required. Instead of doing so he reduced the amount of his claim. By doing -this the relief claimed was covered by the stamp. The question was whether the date of the suit should be taken to be the date of the filing of the plaint in the first instance or the date when it was amended and re-presented by the plaintiff. Here the Court had jurisdiction throughout and the only question was whether the plaintiff should pay the additional court-fee or whether he should reduce his claim and thus avoid the necessity of paying additional court-fee. We do not regard this case as having any bearing, but even if it has, it is not binding on us.

7. We hold that the suit was instituted on the 6th August, 1930, when the Court was presented with the plaint which it had jurisdiction to accept. The hardship which the first respondent is now experiencing is of his own making. He cannot claim the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, because he deliberately under-valued his relief in the first instance. If he had not done this we should have had no hesitation in granting relief under that section. He has, however, put himself out of Court. We have to decide the case on the technical objection which the appellants have raised. The objection is sound in law and therefore must be accepted.

8. The appeal will be allowed with costs throughout.


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