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S.R.M. Ar. S. Sp. Sathappan Chettiar Vs. S.R.M.R.M. Ramanathan Chettiar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.R. No. 55247 of 1953 and C.M.P. No. 9335 of 1954
Judge
Reported inAIR1955Mad682; (1955)2MLJ408
ActsCourt-fees Act, 1870 - Sections 7 and 12(2); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 6, Rule 17; Madras High Court Fees Rules, 1933
AppellantS.R.M. Ar. S. Sp. Sathappan Chettiar
RespondentS.R.M.R.M. Ramanathan Chettiar
Appellant AdvocateR. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, Adv.;Asst. Govt. Pleader
Respondent AdvocateV. Thyagarajan and ;T. Venkatadri, Advs.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Nemichand v. Edward Mills Co. Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....in valuing the relief for partition both for purpose of jurisdiction and computation of court-fees the plaintiff was bound to adopt the same valuation and the court would assume the valuation for jurisdiction as the same for computation of the court-fee under section 7 (iv) (b) of the court-fees act.; section 8 of the suits valuation act (vii of 1887) requires that in a case to which section 7 (iv) (b) of the court-fees act applies,the valuation for purposes of computation of court-fees and the valuation for jurisdiction should be the same. a right of arbitrary valuation for purposes of court-fees can be based on section 7 (iv) of the court-fees act. there is no similar right for purposes of jurisdiction alone.; section 12 (2) of the court-fees act is also applicable to the case of..........court-fee paid on a plaint presented to this court on its original side.19. the payment of court-fees on plaints pre-sented to this court on its original side and on a memorandum of appeal against a decision in such a suit is regulated by the high court fees rules 1933. the relevant portion of order 2, rule 1 of the high court fees rules runs :"to every document including memoranda of appeals, the registrar shall apply as far as may be, the law for the time being in force relating to court-fees. as regards the scale of such fees, the manner of levy of such lees the refund of such fees and in every other respect in the manner and to the extent that it is applicable to similar documents filed in original proceedings in a district court and for appeals from decrees and orders of a.....
Judgment:
1. The plaintiff, whose claim for a half share of the properties in the possession of the defendant and for recovery of possession thereof was dismissed, appealed. In para. 33 of the plaint the plaintiff valued the suit for purposes of jurisdiction at Rs. 15 lakhs and Rs. 1000, Rs. 15 lakhs represented the value of the half share in the properties the plaintiff claimed and Rs. 1000 was the figure at which the plaintiff valued the relief of accounts he sought in addition to the share. The plaintiff did not value separately for purpose of court-fee the claim to a half share in the properties, as he paid the fixed court-fee on that relief under Schedule II, Article 17-B of the Court-fees Act.

2. By its order dated 28-4-1954 this Court decided that court-fees should he paid on the memorandum of appeal, not under Article 17-B of Schedule II, Court-fees Act, but under Section 7(iv-B), Court-fees Act, and the Court directed the plaintiff to value the relief he claimed in the memorandum of appeal on that basis. The plaintiff thereupon valued the relief the share he claimed in the properties at Rs. 50,000. When objection was taken to the valuation offered by the plaintiff he filed C. M. P. No. 9,335 of 1954 for permission to amend para. 3-3 of the plaint by substituting Rs. 50,000 for Rs. 15 lakhs as the valuation for purposes of jurisdiction.

3. We arc of opinion that the amendment sought by the plaintiff in C. M. P. No. 9335 of 1954 should not be allowed, and we shall set out our reasons later in this order. The question how the memorandum of appeal should be valued for the purposes of court-fee, will therefore be decided with reference to the averments in the plaint as they stood.

4. Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act, itself lays down that in suits under the several categories of Section 7(iv), the court-fees should be paid according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal, and the further provision is that in all such suits the plaintiff shall state the amount at which the plaintiff values the relief sought. We need not concern ourselves with the proviso which applies only to Suits coming within the scope of Sub-clause (c) of Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act.

5. In C. Ramayya v. C. Ramaswami, 24 Mad L J 233 (A) a Full Bench of this Court laid down that the Court could not reject the valuation made by the plaintiff in a suit under Section 7(iv) even if such valuation was proved to be not bona fide but an arbitrary valuation. These principles were reaffirmed by two other Full Benches in Arunachalam Chetti v. Ranga-swami Pillai, A I R 1915 Mad 948 (FB) (B) and Narayana v. Periappan, AIR 1938 Mad 887 at p. 888 (FB)(C). It can therefore be taken as settled law that in a suit that has to be valued for purposes of court-fee under Section 7(iv)(b) of the Court-fees Act the plaintiff may value the relief at his own figure. Had the plaintiff valued the relief for purposes of court-fee under Section 7(iv)(b) of the Court-fees Act, the Court could not have refused to accept that valuation even if it was arbitrary ; and the same valuation would have prevailed when the plaintiff had to pay court-fee on the memorandum of appeal. But in this case the plaintiff did not specifically value the relief of partition in the plaint as he originally presented it; he only furnished a valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction, and that valuation was Rs. 15 lakhs.

6. That the valuation of the relief falling under Section 7(iv)(b) of the Court-fees Act for purposes of appeal should be the same as the valuation in the plaint cannot now admit of any dispute. In AIR 1918 Mad 887 (C) the learned Chief Justice laid down at page 889 :

"In our opinion the scheme of the Act in this respect is to allow a plaintiff to value his relief at the figure he chooses, but it does not allow him to change that valuation. He is allowed to value for the purpose of the litigation and when he has done so his valuation governs the forum of trial and of appeal. There is no objection to an appellant abandoning on appeal a portion of the relief claijned in the lower Court or saying that he does not claim relief beyond the figure corresponding to the value of the stamp, but unless he does this we are of opinion that he is hound by the valuation fixed by himself at the commencement of the litigation:"

As we pointed out, the plaintiff only specified the valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction but he did not specify the valuation for the purpose of court-fee in the plaint. The question is, with the valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction specified at Rs. 15 lakhs in the plaint, could the plaintiff be permitted to value the relief under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, in the memorandum of appeal alone at Rs. 50,000? if, despite the fact that the plaintiff did not specifically value the relief of partition under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, in the plaint, the valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction as specified in the plaint, Rs. 15 lakhs, should be deemed to be the valuation put by the plaintiff himself for the relief to be valued under Section 7(iv)(b) of the Act, then obviously the plaintiff could not be permitted to change that valuation for the purpose of court-fee in his memorandum of appeal.

7. In 'Annapurnayya v. Nagaratnamma', AIR 1926 Mad 591 (D), the suit was for the appointment of a receiver and for an injunction to restrain the defendant, a widow, from wasting her estate. The plaintiff valued that suit for the purpose of jurisdic tion at Rs. 10,000 and paid a court-fee of Rs. 100 on the assumption that he was at liberty to put his own value on the suit for the purpose of court-fee. The learned Judge held that the relief had to be valued under Section 7(iv)(o). Court-fees Act. After pointing out that Order 7, Rule 1, Civil P. C. required that the plaint should specify the valuation for the purpose of juris- diction as well as for the purpose of court-fee, Jack son J. observed :

"It is not contemplated that the subject-matter shall be given two values, one purely arbitrary and fanciful for the purposes of jurisdiction and one in strict conformity to the real value for the purposes of court-fees .... Therefore when a plaint contains a valuation for purposes of jurisdiction, it is a natural assumption that the same valuation would apply if it were necessary to have a valuation for an ad valorem court-fee."

The learned Judge further observed :

"If the plaintiff had entered as his value for jurisdiction Rs. 10,000 and his value for ad valorem court-fee, say, Rs. 5000 following the ruling in 'Sailendranath Mitra v. Ramcharan Pal', A I R 1921 Cal 84 (E), the Court, no doubt, would take Rs. 5000 us the value for purposes of jurisdiction. But if the plaintiff enters as his value for jurisdiction Rs. 10,000, and owing to his misreading of the Court-fees Act, omits an ad valorem valuation altogether, considering that the two valuations must be the same, the Court is justified in assuming that Rs. 10,000 would also be the ad valorem valuation."

We respectfully agree with these observations. Similar views were expressed by King J. in 'Mt. Chhatar-pati v. Mt. Kalap Dei', AIR 1932 All 114 (F) and by Beckett J. in 'Beli Ram v. Dasondha Singh, AIR 1938 Lah 647 (G).

8. The plaintiff, as we stated, valued the claim for partition for purposes of jurisdiction at Rs. 15 lakhs. The details of valuation of groups of items of properties were also specified, and at no stage did the learned counsel for the plaintiff-appellant urge than that valuation was wrong or needed revision, in any particular. The cash and the firm's assets themselves were valued at lis. 20 lakhs of which the plaintiff claimed a half share, Rs. 10 lakhs. There was no attempt to deny that the valuation the plaintiff put on the immoveable properties was their real market value. So the jurisdictional Value the plaintiff furnished represented the real value of the share which the plaintiff claimed. What, however, is more important is that the plaintiff did not separately specify the valuation for the purpose of court-fee, whether he could have in the circumstances of this case furnished an arbitrary valuation for the purpose of court-fee wholly unrelated to the itemised valuation he gave for the purpose of jurisdiction, with reference to the real value of the properties does not really arise for determination. He did not furnish separate valuation for the purpose of court-fee.

Under an impression, which has now been held to be mistaken by this Court, the plaintiff paid court-fee under Schedule II, Article 17B, Court-fees Act; but that in no way helps the plaintiff. The Court will have to assume that the valuation the plaintiff furnished for the purpose of jurisdiction, which was consistent with the real value of the property, would have been the value for the purpose of court-fee, had the plaintiff correctly valued the relief for the purpose of court-fee under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act. In effect, though the plaintiif did not separately value the relief for the purpose of court-fee, he must be deemed to have valued it at the same figure at which he valued the relief for the purpose of jurisdiction, that is Rs. 15 lakhs. That of course applies to the plaint. Since as we have already pointed out, the valuation for the purpose of court-fee payable on the memorandum of appeal in such a case as this could not differ from the valuation of the plaint for the purpose of court-fee, we have to hold that the plaintiff should value the relief that falls in this case under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, at Rs. 15 lakhs.

9. The learned counsel for the plaintiff-appellant referred to Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act, which required valuation of the reliefs sought in the "plaint or memorandum of appeal" and contended that as we are now concerned only with the valuation in the memorandum of appeal, the plaintiff would be entitled to exercise the right conferred upon him by Section 7(iv) of the Act and put his own valuation on the relief that fell within the scope of Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, whatever the plaintiff might have done or failed to do in the plaint. That contention will have to be negatived. A similar contention was repelled by the Full Bench in AIR 1938 Mad 887 (C).

10. We shall now set out the reasons for our refusal to permit the plaintiff to amend the plaint at this stage. It should be remembered that even at this stage what the plaintiff seeks is not an amendment of the plaint to furnish the plaintiif's valuation of the relief falling within the scope of Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act. The plaintiff wants to amend the plaint to revise the jurisdictional value and put it at Rs. 50,000 instead of Rs. 15 lakhs, specified in the plaint. That, ol course, could he consistent only with the consciousness of a liability on the part of the plaintiff to Value the relief under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act in conformity with the valuation of the properties for the purpose of jurisdiction.

The learned Government Pleader relied upon the passage at pp. 888-889 in A I R 1933 Mad 887 (C) which has already been extracted above in support of his contention, that once the plaintiff has valued the relief or is deemed to have valued the relief for the purpose of court-fee payable under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, he has no right at all to change that valuation at any stage even by an amendment of the plaint. That was not the question before the Full Bench. We do not propose to decide that question. We would prefer to rest our decision to refuse the amendment of the plaint at this stage on a much narrower basis. The question to which we propose to address ourselves is whether we should exercise our discretion, assuming without deciding it, that we have jurisdiction to order amendment of the plaint.

11. In 'Arogya Udayan v. Appachi Rowthen', 25 Mad 543 (II), an amendment of the plaint which would result in ousting the jurisdiction of the Court to which the plaint had been presented was held not permissible. In the present case, of course, no question of jurisdiction arises, because whether the valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction is Rs. 15 lakhs as originally recorded in the plaint or Rs. 50,000 which the plaintiff now wants to adopt, the forum would have remained the same. The real reason for the amendment the plaintiff now seeks is obviously his desire to reduce Ms liability to pay court-fee which would, but for the amendment, be payable on the memorandum of appeal.

12. Even after the proposed amendment, the details of the valuation of the properties mentioned in the plaint remain unaltered, and it is not the case of the plaintiff that any of these details was wrong. Section 8, Suits Valuation Act, requires that in a case like this to which Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, applies the valuation for purposes of computation of court-fees and the valuation for jurisdiction should be the same. A right of arbitrary, valuation for purposes of court-fee can be founded on Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act. There is no statutory right of an arbitrary valuation for purposes of jurisdiction alone. If it is an arbitrary right of valuation for purposes of jurisdiction that the plaintiff seeks by the amendment, such an amendment should not be allowed; property properly valued at 30 lakhs cannot be permitted to be valued at fifty thousand by an amendment only for purposes of jurisdiction.

13. No doubt, if a plaintiff values his claim for purposes of court-fees under Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act, that valuation even if it is arbitrary, would also govern jurisdiction under Section 8, Suits Valuation Act. But in this case the plaintiff does not seek any specific amendment of the plaint to furnish a valuation at his choice for purposes of court-fee under Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act. If, however, the plaintiff seeks the amendment of valuation for purposes of jurisdiction only to enable him to treat that valuation as an implied valuation in the plaint for computation of court-fees under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, we do not think we should in the exercise of our discretion, allow an amendment, and at this stage, merely to enable the plaintiff to reduce the liability to pay the court-fee which he would otherwise be liable to pay on the memorandum of appeal. C. M. P. No. 9335 of 1954 is dismissed.

14. The position may thus be summed up. The plaintiff had to value the relief of partition that he claimed both for purposes of jurisdiction and computation of court-fees. Since the court-fee payable by the plaintiff had to he computed under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, he could value the relief as he liked, but he was bound to adopt the same valuation both for jurisdiction and court-fees. The plaintiff failed to value the relief separately for computation of the court-fee, and it was only for jurisdiction that he valued the relief at 15 lakhs of rupees in the plaint. The Court had to assume that that was also the plaintiff's valuation for computation of the court-fee under Section 7(iv)(b). It was on that valuation that court-fee had to be paid on the memorandum of appeal presented by the plaintiff.

15. The only valuation, which, in the circumstances of this case, the plaintiff could adopt for purposes of the court-fee payable on the memorandum of appeal was 15 lakhs of rupees; and that is the valuation, which, in our opinion, he ought to furnish to carry out the directions this Court gave the plaintiff in its order dated 28-1-1954. Court-fee should be paid on that basis on the memorandum of appeal on or before 4-7-1955.

16. S. R. No. 55247 of 1953 : -- We reserved for separate consideration the correctness of the contention of the learned Government Pleader, that we should exercise the powers vested in an appellate Court by Section 12(2), Court-fees Act, and direct the plaintiff to pay the deficit court-fee on the plaint as well.

17. It should be remembered, a fixed court-fee ol Rs. 100 was paid under Article 17-1) of Schedule II, Court-fees Act. By its order dated 28-4-1954, this Court held that the relief of partition should have been valuer for the purpose of court-fee under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act. In our order pronounced today we have held that court-fee should be paid on the memorandum of appeal on a valuation of Rs. 15 lakhs under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act. That decision itself was based on the averments in the plaint and from what we have already stated it should follow that the same court-fee should have been paid on the plaint.

18. The question left for decision is, whether Section 12(2), Court-fees Act, is applicable to correct any inadequacy of court-fees paid on a plaint presented to this Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. The Court-fees Act itself doss not specifically apply any of the provisions of Chapter III of that Act to the High Court. The learned counsel for the plaintiff-appellant contended that Section 12(2), Court-fees Act, could not be invoked by this Court to correct any deficiency in the court-fee paid on a plaint presented to this Court on its original side.

19. The payment of court-fees on plaints pre-sented to this Court on its original side and on a memorandum of appeal against a decision in such a suit is regulated by the High Court Fees Rules 1933. The relevant portion of Order 2, Rule 1 of the High Court Fees Rules runs :

"To every document including memoranda of appeals, the Registrar shall apply as far as may be, the law for the time being in force relating to court-fees. As regards the scale of such fees, the manner of levy of such lees the refund of such fees and in every other respect in the manner and to the extent that it is applicable to similar documents filed in original proceedings in a District Court and for appeals from decrees and orders of a District Court."

After enumerating the scale of fees, the manner of levy of such fees, the revision of such fees, the rules provide that in every other respects also the provisions of the Court-fees Act should be applied and that, the learned Government Pleader contended, made the provision of Section 12(2) of the Act applicable also to a case of an appeal presented from a decree of this Court passed in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. We accept that contention as correct. The validity of the High Court-fees Rules was upheld by this Court in Seshadri v. Province of Madras, (I).

20. In Nemichand v. Edward Mills Co. Ltd., (J) the scope of Section 5 and that of Section 12, Court-fees Act, was explained. It may not, however, be necessary to examine this aspect of the question further, because this Court has already pointed out in its order dated 28-4-1954 that the decision of Krishnasvvami Nayudu J., that the correct court-fee had been paid on the plaint was not a decision under Section 5, Court-fees Act. That decision was no bar to the determination of the basis on which the memorandum of appeal should be valued; and in our opinion, it constitutes no bar either to the application of Section 12(2), Court-fees Act, to the plaint at this stage.

21. We, therefore, hold under Section 12(2), Court-fees Act, that the deficit court-fee computed under Section 7(iv)(b), Court-fees Act, on the valuation of Rs. 15 lakhs furnished by the plaintiff himself should be (sic) before 4-7-1955.


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