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R.M. Seshadri Vs. the Province of Madras, Represented by the Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.R. No. 36299 of 1952
Judge
Reported inAIR1954Mad543; (1954)IMLJ206
ActsConstitution of India - Article 225; Madras High Court-fees Rules, 1933 - Order 2, Rule 1; Government of India Act, 1915 - Sections 106 and 107; Government of India (Amendment) Act, 1935 - Sections 223 and 224; Court-fees Act, 1870 - Sections 3
AppellantR.M. Seshadri
RespondentThe Province of Madras, Represented by the Chief Secretary to the Government of Madras
Appellant AdvocateParty in person
Respondent AdvocateGovt. Pleader assisted by V.V. Raghavan, Adv. for ;Adv. General
Cases ReferredRamamirtham v. Rama Film Service
Excerpt:
constitution of india, article 225--powers of high court of prescribe court-fee on its original side--continued after the constitution subject to any law of appropriate legislature--right of appeal--substantive right--vested in appellant even when he filed plaint in his suit--court-fee enhanced after filing of suit but before appeal--whether appellant liable to pay enhanced court-fee;the madras high court fees rules, 1933, which prescribed the court-fees to be paid on its original side, were amended on 27th june 1950, raising the scale of fees to the scale levied in the district courts. in 1949, s filed a suit on which he paid court-fee as per the old rules. the suit having been dismissed on 25th march 1952, he preferred an appeal on 20th august 1952, paying the same court-fee as that..... (1) this is a court fee reference by the master. r. m. seshadri filed c. s. no. 541 of 1949 on the original side of this court for a declaration that the order of the defendant (state of madras dated 7th august 1947 terminating his service as a member of the indian civil service was 'ultra vires' its powers, illegal and void, and directing it to restore him to an office appropriate to his rank and seniority in the service, and for recovery of arrears of salary of a sum of rs. 28884-13-0 and damages of a sum of one lakh rupees for terminating his service illegally and arbitrarily. on the plaint he paid a court fee of rs. 935.the suit was dismissed by panchapakesa aiyar j. on 25th march 1952. on 20th august 1952 he preferred an original side appeal against the decree and judgment. he.....
Judgment:
(1) This is a court fee reference by the Master. R. M. Seshadri filed C. S. No. 541 of 1949 on the Original Side of this court for a declaration that the order of the defendant (State of Madras dated 7th August 1947 terminating his service as a member of the Indian Civil Service was 'ultra vires' its powers, illegal and void, and directing it to restore him to an office appropriate to his rank and seniority in the service, and for recovery of arrears of salary of a sum of Rs. 28884-13-0 and damages of a sum of one lakh rupees for terminating his service illegally and arbitrarily. On the plaint he paid a court fee of Rs. 935.

The suit was dismissed by Panchapakesa Aiyar J. on 25th March 1952. On 20th August 1952 he preferred an Original Side appeal against the decree and judgment. He valued the memorandum of appeal at a sum of Rs. 1,44,385-13-0 and paid a court fee of Rs. 935 i.e. the same amount he paid on the plaint. Rule 1 of Or. II of the High I Court Pees Rules 1933 as amended by R. O. C. 2219/49-B1 provides that to documents including a memo of appeal, the Registrar shall apply the law for the time being in force relating to court fee etc. (i.e. the Court fees Act) in the manner and to the extent that it is applicable to similar documents filed in original proceedings in a District Court and in appeals from decrees and orders of a District Court. This rule came into force on 27th June 1850. The office insisted that court fee should be paid on the memorandum of appeal under this rule. If this rule applied, the court fee payable would be Rs. 2832-7-0 (Rs. 500 for the relief of declaration and Rs. 2332-7-0 on the other reliefs under Article I, Schedule I of the Court-fees Act). A sum of Rs. 935 having been paid already, he was asked to pay the deficit court fee of Rs. 1897-7-0.

(2) The plaintiff who argued in person before us raised two contentions :

1. Before ihe Constitution the High Court had no power to prescribe court-fees, and after the Constitution also they are not in a better position as the Legislature specifically conferred exclusive jurisdiction to impose court fees on the Legislature of the State.

2. He is only liable to pay court fee on the memorandum of appeal at the scale obtaining at the time the plaint was filed.

(3) To ascertain the powers of the High Court in regard to the imposition of court fees it would be necessary to know its powers before the Constitution, those conferred on it under the Constitution and those retained or continued under its tiansitory provisions.

(4) The relevant provisions of the Constitution of India may now be read :

Article 245(1) : Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India, and the Legislature of a State may make laws for the whole or any part of the State. Article 246(3) : Subject to Clauses (1) and (2), the Legislature of any State specified in Part A or Part B of the First Schedule has exclusive power to make laws for such State or any part thereof with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List II fn the Seventh schedule (inthis Constitution referred to as the 'State List').

Seventh Schedule List II (State List) : Item 3 : Administration of justice; constitution and organisation of all courts, except the Supreme Court and the High Court; officers and servants of the High Court; procedure in rent and revenue courts; fees taken in all courts except the Supreme Court.

Item 65 : Jurisdiction and powers of all courts, except the Supreme Court, with respect to any of the matters in this List.

Article 225 : Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and to the provisions of any law of the appropriate Legislature made by virtue of powers conferred on that Legislature by this Constitution, the jurisdiction of and the law administered in, any existing High Court, and the respective powers of the Judges thereof in relation to the administration of justice in the court, including any power to make rules of Court and to regulate the sittings of the court and of members thereof sitting alone or in Division Courts, shall be the same as immediately before the commencement of this Constitution :

Article 227(1) : Every High Court shall have superintendence over all courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction .....

(3) : The High Court may also settle tables of fees to be allowed to the sheriff and all clerks and officers of such courts and to attorneys, advocates and pleaders practising therein; ....

It is clear from the aforesaid provisions that the exclusive jurisdiction to make laws for the State in respect of fees taken in all courts except the Supreme Court is conferred on the Legislature of the State. Article 227(3) confers a limited jurisdiction on the High Court to settle tables or fees in courts subordinate to the High Court. Any tables settled in that behalf shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of any law for the time being in force, and shall require the previous approval of the Government. But Clause (3) of Article 227 cannot obviously apply in regard to fees payable in High Courts.

Article 227 corresponds to Section 224(d) of the Government of India Act, 1935, which in turn was a reproduction of Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act, 1915. Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act, 1915 and Section 224(d) of the Government of India Act, 1935 gave room for argument whether the High Court could fix the scales of fees in respect of proceedings in the High Court, for, in those two clauses the word "such" was not found and, therefore, Judges had taken different views on the question whether that clause was wider in scope than the other clauses of the sections. Presumably to remove that ambiguity in Article 227(3) the word "such" is introduced, which clearly and unambiguously refers to the courts over which the High Court has powers of superintendence.

If Article 227 is ruled out, the only article which may sustain such power, and indeed the article relied on by the High Court in prescribing the court fee, is Article 225 of the Constitution. The power to prescribe court fees is sought to be traced to the pre-existing power of the High Court to make rules of court preserved under that Article. Both the articles 225 and 245 are subject to the provisions of the Constitution. Further, in Article 225 there is another restriction, namely, the power conferred or recognised therein is subject to any law of the appropriate legislature made by the powers conferred on it by the Constitution. It the laws made by the appropriate legislature are subject to the provisions of the Constitution including Article 225, the power conferred on the High Court is also subject to any law made by the appropriate Legislature. To put it differently, any rule made by the High Court will not have any legal authority if the appropriate Legislature made law on the same subject. It is not suggested that the appropriate Legisla-ture has made any law in respect of the court fee payable on the Original Side of the High Court. If so the High Court certainly can pre-scribe court fee in respect of such proceedings if the provisions of Article 225 conferred such power on it. It would have such power if before the Constitution its right to make rules of court sustained such a power. This leads us to the consideration of the question of the scope of the High Court's power to make rules of court before the Constitution.

(5) The next question is whether the High Court had such power prior to the making of the Constitution. The material portions of Section 15 of the Charter Act of 1861 (24 and 25 Vict. 104) on which much reliance was placed reads as follows :

"Each of the High Courts established under this Act shall have superintendence over all courts which may be subject to its appellate jurisdiction, and shall have power to call for Returns, and to direct the transfer of any Suit or Appeal from any such court to any other court cf equal or superior jurisdiction, and shall have power to make and issue General Rules for regulating the Practice and Proceedings of such Courts, and also to prescribe Forms for every Proceeding in the said Courts ..... and also to settle Tables of Fees to be allowed to the Sheriff, Attorneys, and all Clerks and Officers of Courts, and from time to time to alter any- such Rule or Form or Table; and the Rules so made, and the Forms so framed, and the Tables so settled shall be used and observed in the said courts, provided that such General Rules and Forms and Tables be not inconsistent with the Provisions of any Law in force, and shall before they are issued have received the sanction, in the presidency of Fort William, of the Governor General in Council, and in Madras or Bombay of the Governor in Council of the respective Presidencies."

Article 37 of the amended Letters Patent for the High Court of Judicature for the Presidency of Madras, says :

"And we do further ordain that it shall be lawful for the said High Court of Judicature at Madras from time to time to make rules and orders for the purpose of regulating all proceedings in civil cases which may be brought before the said High Court, ..... provided always, that the said High Court shall be guided in making such rules and orders as far as possible by the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, being an Act passed by the Governor General in Council, and being Act No. VIII of 1859, and the provisions of any law which has been made, amending or altering the same, by competent legislative authority for India."

The Government of India Act, 1915 split up the powers conferred on the High Court under Section 15 of the Charter Act, 1861 and embodied them in two sections, Sections 106 and 107 of the said Act. The relevant provisions of these two sections read as follows :

8. 106(1) : The several High Courts are courts of record and have such jurisdiction .... and all such powers .... and power to make rules for regulating the practice of the court, as are vested in them by Letters Patent, and subject to the provisions of any such Letters Patent, all such jurisdiction, powers and authority as are vested in those courts respectively at the commencement of this Act.

Section 107 : Each of the High Courts has superintendence over all courts for the time being subject to its appellate jurisdiction, and may do any of the following things, that is to say,--(e) settle tables of fees to be allowed to the sheriff, attorneys, and all clerks and officers of courts.

A combined reading of these provisions enables the High Courts to make rules for regulating the practice of the court and also to fix court fees in respect of proceedings in the High Court.

It is true, as contended by the plaintiff, ' the terminology used in Section 107(e) is not appropriate to the power to impose court fees, alleged to be conferred on the High Court. But the words have a historic origin. Originally the officers were paid from the fees collected and though that practice was given up, the same words were continued to be used. Those words, obtained as it were, a secondary meaning and it is neither possible nor permissible to give a different meaning to those words at this stage. Indeed the Court-fees Act passed by the Central Legislature uses similar words in Section 3 of the Act to indicate court fees. The same power is again conferred on the High Court under Sections 223 and 224 of the Government of India Act, 1935. Under Section 223 the High Court's power to make rules of court is preserved. Under Section 224(d) its power to settle tables of fees to be allowed to the sheriff, attorneys, and all clerks and officers of courts is retained. The power of the High Court to prescribe court fees in regard to proceedings in the High Court was subject to judicial scrutiny prior to the coming into force of the Constitution of India.

(6) In 'Mahomed Ishack Sahib v. Mahomed Moideen', AIR 1922 Mad 421 (A), Coutts-Trotter J. as he then was, traced the power of the High Court to Section 15 of the High Courts Charter Act. At page 422 the learned Judge observed :

"It has always been maintained that the power under which fees are levied on the Original Side of the High Court was derived from the general powers to issue general rules for regulating the practice and procedure of the courts, it is argued, and I think it is rightly argued, that the power to make regulations for procedure necessarily includes imposition of fees and the collection of them, and the court can collect the fees only through its proper officers. If that be right, then the fee leviable on an appeal is the fee payable for the time being to the officers of the High Court by virtue of the High Courts Charter Act directly."

In 'Swaminatha Iyer v. Gurusami Mudaliar', AIR 1927 Mad 940 (B). Eeasley J. agreed with the opinion expressed by Coutts-Trotter J. On the other hand, Venkatasubba Rao J. in -- 'Abdul Hakim Sahib v. Chattanadha Aiyar', AIR 1931 Mad 457 (C) preferred to derive that power from Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act, 1915. It may be recalled that the power conferred on She High Court under Section 15 of the Charter Act was split up and enacted in Sections 106 and 107 of the Government of India Act, 1915, the former comprising the power to make rules for regulating the practice of the courts and the latter empowering the High Court to settle tables to be allowed to the sheriff, attorneys, and all clerks and officers of courts. At page 459 the learned Judge observed :

"Then we must enquire from where the High Court derives its p6wers, to make rules in regard to its court fees. Barring Section 107 of the Government of India Act (repealed Section 15 of the High Court Charter Act), no other provision conferring the power is traceable. That section says that each of the High Courts may settle tables of fees to be allowed to the Sheriffs, clerks and officers of courts. Section 3 of the Court-fees Act assumes that the fees payable to such clerks and officers are by virtue of this very section ....."

The learned Judge proceeded to state at page 459 :

"My reason for referring to Section 3 of the Court lees Act in this connection is, that it fortifies my view that the High Court's power to make rules is derived from 8. 107 of the Government of India Act. That section is not happily worded. Its marginal note indicates that it deals only with the High Court's powers in respect of subordinate Courts. Clauses (a), (b), (c) and (d) deal only with such courts. But Clause (e) is more general and deals with all courts including the High Courts. The word 'such' is absent in Clause (e).

If, then, it is from Section 107 that the High Court derives its power to make rules, does it place any limitation on such power? The proviso to B. 107 says that the table of fees to be framed shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of any Act for the time being in force."

Leach J. as he then was in 'Maung Ba Thaw v. M. S. V. M. Chettiar', AIR 1935 Rang 460 (D) would .extract this power from Clause 35 of the Letters Patent (corresponding to Clause 37, Madras Letters Patent). The learned Judge did not agree with Venkatasubba Rao J. in regard to the construction of Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act. Notwithstanding the absence of the word "such" in the said clause, the learned Judge would confine the operation of that clause only to the subordinate courts.

In 'Re Official Assignee, Calcutta', AIR 1938 Cal 755 (E), Panckridge J. of the Calcutta High Court agreed with Venkatasubba Rao J. when he stated at page 756

"On the other hand, when the words 'all clerks and officers of courts' are used, all courts in the Province are meant including the High Court. This is the more natural construction grammatically. Moreover, if the High Court is to be excluded the mention of the sheriff and attorneys becomes unnecessary."

In dealing with the contention that the words "fees to be allowed to the sheriff, attorneys, and ell clerks and officers of courts" in Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act, 1915 do not refer to court fees, the learned Judge made the following remarks:

"I do not agree with Coutts-Trotter J. that 'fees allowed' refers exclusively to those fees which the clerks and officers could formerly claim as a perquisite. I see no reason why the phrase should be limited in this way. It can- not have that meaning in Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act, 1915, as that statute was enacted long after the system of remuneration by fees had given place to remuneration by salaries."

It will be seen from the aforesaid decisions that all the High Courts unanimously agreed that they had power to impose court fee, though there was difference of view on the source of such power. Coutts-Trotter J. and Beasley J. of the Madras High Court found it on the High Court's general powers for regulating the practice of procedure of the courts conferred under Section 15 of the Charter Act. Leach J. of the Rangoon High Court discovered it in Clause 35 of the Letters Patent, Rangoon. Venkatasubba Rao J. found no difficulty in deriving it from Section 107(e) of the Government of India Act, 1915. Section 3 of the Court-fees Act, 1870 assumed that power in High Courts and only prescribed the manner of collection.

Though there is much to be said for the view of Venkatasubba Rao J. that the High Court's power to prescribe court fee was derived only from Section 107 of the Government of India Act, 1915 we are not prepared at this stage to differ from the opinion expressed by three Judges who subsequently became the Chief Justices of the Court when they held that the source of that power could be traced to the general power of the High Court to issue rules for regulating the practice and procedure of courts. We are particularly more reluctant to do so as such a power was exercised for so long a time and acquiesced in by all parties concerned including the Government and Legislature. We therefore hold that Article 225 of the Constitution saved that power subject to the restrictions contained therein.

(7) In the view we have taken, though It is not necessary, as the question was argued at some length, we shall proceed to consider, whether apart from Article 225 there are any provisions in the Constitution enabling the High Court to exercise such a power prescribing court fee. It is then to be inquired whether the Constitution of India made any transitory provisions, enabling that power undoubtedly possessed by the. High Courts prior to the Constitution, to exercise the same after the Constitution, till suitable laws were made by the Legislature, on whom exclusive jurisdiction was conferred under Article 246 of the Constitution read with List II of the VII schedule. Article 372 of the Constitution of India says :

" 1. Notwithstanding the repeal by this Constitution of the enactments referred to in Article 395 but subject to the other provisions of this Constitution, all the laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution shall continue in force therein until altered or repealed or amended by a competent Legislature or other competent authority.

2. For the purpose of bringing the provisions of any law in force in the territory of India into accord with the provisions of this Constitution, the President may by order make such adaptations and modifications of such law, whether by way of repeal or amendment, as may be necessary or expedient, and provide that the law shall, as from such date as may be specified in the order, have effect subject to the adaptations and modifications so made, and any such adaptation or modification shall not. be Questioned in any court of law."

Pursuant to the power conferred under Article 372(2) the President of the Republic made the Adaptation of Laws Order, 1950 which was published on 26th January 1.850. The material provisions of that Order relevant to the present purpose may be extracted :

Clause 2(1) (b) : In this order :

"existing Central law" means any law in force in the territory of India immediately before the appointed day, but does not include-

(1) an existing Provincial law;

(ii) an existing State law; or

(iii) an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom or any Order in Council, rule or other instrument made under such an Act;

Clause 3 : As from the appointed day, the existing Central laws mentioned in the schedules to this order shall, until repealed or amended by a competent legislature or other competent authority, have effect subject to the adaptations and modifications directed by those schedules or, if it is so directed, shall stand repealed.

Clause 22: Save as is otherwise provided by this Order, all powers which under any law in force in India or any part thereof, were, immediately before the appointed day, vested in or exercisable by any person or authority shall continue to be so vested or exercisable until other provision is made by some Legislature or authority empowered to regulate the matter in question.

S. 3, Court fees Act, 1870 : I schedule. For "the courts which are High Courts for the purposes of the Government of India Act, 1935" substitute 'the High Courts for Part A States'. The learned Government Pleader contended that by reason of the Adaptation of Laws Order the power of the High Court to prescribe court-fees for the Original Side of the High Court was saved and they could exercise that power till the Legislature made an Act prescribing the court fees. To appreciate this contention it is necessary to scrutinise the provisions of Article 372(1) and (2) with some care. Under Article 372 of the Constitution the laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of the Constitution shall continue until altered or repealed by a competent Legislature or authority. The words "laws in force" are not defined for the purpose of Part XXI of the Constitution though for the application of Article 13 there is a definition. But in their ordinary connotation they are wide and comprehensive enough to take in not only the laws made by the Legislature or other authority under the powers conferred by the Government of India Act, but also the Government of India Act itself. It is argued that this is effected by reason of the opening words of the Article "Notwithstanding the repeal by this Constitution" referred to in Article 395. One of the articles referred to in Article 395 is the Government of India Act, 1935.

To put in other words, the contention is that the Government of India Act was one of the laws in force and notwithstanding its repeal the power conferred under that Act can be exercised. It would be a paradox to say that an Act is repealed, but it will be continued in force till it is repealed or altered. When the Constitution expressly repealed the Government of India Act and enacted that notwithstanding that repeal the laws in force shall continue, the reasonable construction, in our view, is that despite the repeal, the laws already made under the powers conferred by that statute would continue to be in force. But to hold, as we are asked to hold, that the Act would continue in force notwithstanding the repeal, would be to attribute to the authors of the Constitution an inconsistency.

To put it concretely, the Government of India Act may have been repealed; but the rules made by the High Court in exercise of the powers conferred by that Act shall continue in force till repealed or altered by a competent Legislature. The other restriction is that the law in force shall continue subject to the provisions of the Constitution. Article 372(2) enables the President to bring any law, if inconsistent with any provisions of the Constitution, into accord with the provisions of the Constitution by repeal or adaptations and modifications made by him. Such pre-existing law shall have effect subject to the modifications or adaptations made by him shall not be questioned in any Court of law; but obviously in our view under this section the President has no power to continue the laws expressly repealed by the Constitution, He cannot by an order direct that the Government of India Act shall continue to be in force when the Constitution expressly repealed it. Unless the Government of India Act continued in force, after the Constitution was made, the High Court's power derived under that Act could not be exercised.

Nor can we hold that the President made any such order which had the effect of continuing the power of the High Court to make laws in respect of court-fees on the original side, derived from the abrogated Government of India Act. Under Rule 3 of the Order, the Court fees Act shall have effect subject to the adaptations made. The adaptation relevant to the purpose reads as follows:

"S. 3. For 'the courts which are High Courts for the purposes of the Government of India Act, 1935' substitute 'the High Courts for Part A States."

By making that adaptation to Section 3 of the Court-fees Act, it would read as follows:

"The fees payable for the time being to the clerks and officers (other than the sheriffs and attorneys) of the High Courts for Part A States .....shall be collected in manner hereinafter appearing."

The adaptation does not make any difference in the content of the section, but only introduces the suitable words in conformity with the repeal of the Government of India Act.

Section 3 of the Court-fees Act has been constructed by Venkatasubba Rao J. in -- 'AIR 1931 Mad 457 (C)'. There the learned Judge after analysing the section observed:

"Section 3, in my opinion, is clearly an instance of bad drafting. So far as its language goes, it does not profess to prescribe court fee; it purports on the contrary to deal only with the mode of collecting it. But by implication it prescribes a court-fee in certain cases. That is the effect of the second clause which runs thus .....The effect of the two sections may then be shortly stated thus. In certain cases coming before the High Court, the Court fees Act itself prescribes the fee leviable (S. 4 and Clause (2) of Section 3). In all other cases coming before that Court, the Court-fees Act lays down only the mode of collecting the court fee (S. 3, Clause (1)). In the case of the Presidency Small Cause Courts also, it merely prescribes the mode of collecting the fee....."

We respectfully agree with the observations. It follows that under Section 3 of the Court fees Act, court fee is not leviable except in cases mentioned in the second part of that section, unless they are otherwise leviable by the High Court.

In any view Rule 3 does not in any way confer, recognise or continue the power of the High Court to prescribe court fee. It may also be mentioned that Clause 3 applies only to existing Central laws and the Government of India Act, which is an Act of Parliament, is expressly excluded from the definition of "existing Central law". Nor does Rule 22 save any such power. Under that rule,

".....all powers which under any law in force in India or any part thereof, were, immediately before the appointed day, vested in or exercis-able by any person or authority shall continue to be so vested or exercisable until other provision is made by some Legislature or authority empowered to regulate the matter in question,"

(8) This rule must necessarily be read in conformity with the powers conferred on the President. If the President has no power under Article 372 to continue an Act repealed, Rule 22 cannot be construed in such a manner to have that effect. It must be read so as to be in conformity with the powers of the President. If so read it is clear that the power conferred under any law in Rule 22 must be a power conferred under a law in force, but not under a law repealed. Such power can be exercised by authority on whom it is conferred till the appropriate Legislature makes law regulating the matter in question.

To illustrate, the powers of the Master under the Court-fees Act, which is a law in force, can be exercised by him till that law is repealed or another authority is substituted. So too, if under the rules made by the High Court by exercise of its powers under the Government of India Act, a particular power is conferred on the Master, he will continue to exercise it till another authority is substituted for him by appropriate Legislature. But the High Court cannot exercise its powers conferred on it under the Government of India Act after the Government of India Act ceased to exist, though the laws made by it during the subsistence of that power would continue in force even after the Constitution, till they are modified. So construed, Rule 22 also cannot save the powers of the High Court to prescribe court fees afresh after the Constitution came into force. But as we have held that Article 225 of the Constitution preserved the High Court's pre-existing power we hold that the rule made by the High Court in "June 1950 prescribing a higher fee in appeals against the original side decrees is constitutionally valid.

(9) It is then contended that in any view the amended rule could not affect the right of the plaintiff to prefer an appeal against the decree of the learned Judge sitting on the Original Side as the rule is not expressly or by necessary implication given retrospective operation. It cannot be disputed that an appeal is a continuation of the proceedings in the Court of the first instance -- See -- 'Muthiah Chettiar v. Ramaswami Chettiar', 20 Ind Cas 689 at p. 694 (Mad) (F). It is also settled law that a right of appeal is not merely a matter of procedure but is a matter of substantive right.

The case in -- Hoosein Karam Dada v. The State of M. P.', (G). is rather instructive. There the appellant was assessed by the Assistant Commissioner on 8-4-1950 in the sum of Rs. 58657-14-0. Being aggrieved by that order of assessment he preferred an appeal on 10-5-1950 to the Sales-tax Commissioner. As the tax for which he was assessed was not paid, the appellate authority declined to admit the appeal. According to the law at the time the assessment proceedings were started

"no appeal against an order "of assessment, with or without penalty, shall be entertained..... unless it is satisfied that such amount of tax or penalty or both as the appellant may admit to be due from him, has been paid."

But by the time the appeal was sought to be filed, the law was amended, and according to the amended law,

"no appeal against an order of assessment, with or without penalty shall be admitted by the said authority unless such appeal is accompanied by a satisfactory proof of the payment of the tax, with penalty, if any, in respect of which the appeal has been preferred."

According to the pre-existing law only the amount admitted by the assessee should be paid; but by reason of the amendment the payment of the entire tax was a condition precedent for preferring an appeal. It was contended that the amendment has placed a substantial restriction on the assessee's right of appeal and therefore it affected his vested right.

Their Lordships observed at page 224:

"The above decisions quite firmly establish and our decisions in -- 'Janardan Reddy v. The State', (H), and in --

'Ganpat Rai v. Agarwal Chamber of Commerce Ltd.', (I), uphold the principle that a right of appeal is not merely a matter of procedure. It is a matter of substantive right. This right of appeal from the decision of an inferior tribunal to a superior tribunal becomes vested in a party when proceedings are first initiated in, and before a decision is given by, the inferior Court. In the language of Jenkins C. J. in -- 'Nana v. Sheku', 32 Bom 337 (J), to disturb an existing right of appeal is not a mere alteration in procedure. Such a vested right cannot be taken away except by express enactment or necessary intendment. AN intention to interfere with or to impair or imperil such a vested right cannot be presumed unless such intention be clearly manifested by express words or necessary implication."

Relying upon this decision it has been argued that a right to prefer an appeal was vested in the plaintiff at the time when the plaint was filed and the amendment unduly restricted that right and therefore cannot affect his vested right.

The amendment made in Rule 1 of the High Court Fees Rules reads as follows:

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

This amendment does not give it retrospective operation. Nor can we infer retrospectivity by necessary implication. Full meaning can be given to the amendment if it is confined to cases where the suit was filed after the amendment came into force. But can it be said that the amendment is such that it places a substantial restriction on the plaintiff's right of appeal? Under the rules as they stood at the time when the suit was filed, the court fee payable was only Rs. 935. Under the amended rule the court fee is Rs. 2832-7-0, i.e., about three times the original rate. This sudden increase in the burden could not have been anticipated by the plaintiff. Had he known that he would be asked to pay such heavy court fee for preferring an appeal it is problematical whether he would have filed the suit at all. At the time he filed the suit he must have been under the impression that with the payment of an additional court fee of Rs. 935 he could pursue the suit to its appellate stage. The right of appeal that vested in him at the time when he instituted the suit was certainly and seriously curtailed by the unexpected heavy burden thrown on the appellant. It is a well-established principle that an Act or rule imposing a burden has always to be construed strictly. On a fair construction of the language used in the rule we cannot hold that the amendment is retrospective in operation. The court fee prescribed thereby cannot apply to the appeal preferred by the plaintiff.

(10) The Government Pleader relied upon a decision of -- 'Krishnaswami Aiyangar J. in --'Ghosh Beevi, In re', AIR 1944 Mad 406 (K). The learned Judge held that the notification increasing the court fee was applicable to an appeal preferred after it came into force though the suit was instituted prior to the amendment. A perusal of the judgment shows that the learned Judge only distinguished the cases cited before him but did not give any acceptable reasons why in his view court fee payable according to the amendment should be paid. The only reason given by the learned Judge is a statement of fact, namely,

"The notification having taken effect on 1st November 1943, I can see no reason why it should be held inapplicable to an appeal preferred after it came into force."

The learned Judge has not considered the point, via., when the amendment was not expressly or by necessary implication made retrospective in operation, whether it would apply to an appeal even though it has placed a substantive restriction on the appellant's right of appeal. We therefore regret our inability to follow the judgment.

Strong reliance is placed upon the Judgment of the Full Bench of which one of us was a party in -- 'Ramamirtham v. Rama Film Service', CD. There a original suit had been transferred to the City Civil Court. By later legislation the pecuniary jurisdiction of the City Civil Court was raised to the sum of Rs. 10000. The question was whether the City Civil Court was competent to try or dispose of suits filed in the High Court below Rs. 10000, in value, which were instituted prior to the enhancement of its jurisdiction from Rs. 8000 to Rs. 10000 and if so, can such transfers be legally made under either Section 16, proviso (2), Madras City Civil Court Act or under Section 24(1) of the Civil Procedure Code. It was argued that a suitor had a vested right to have a suit validly instituted m a court of competent jurisdiction, to have it tried and disposed of in that court and that any subsequent legislation or notification issued in pursuance of a power conferred by a statute could not defeat that right nor take away the jurisdiction of that court to try and dispose of the suits. The Pull Bench conceded the correctness of the contention but pointed out that the vested right to continue an action in a court in which it was instituted can be made subject to a power of transfer by the very Act which constituted and established the court, or in cases governed by the Civil Procedure Code, under Section 24.

The same idea was expressed in a slightly different way at p. 99 as follows:

"The vested right is always subject to the overriding power of the Court subject to the restrictions contained in the statute to transfer to another court competent to try the same."

Satyanarayana Rao J. observed at page 99:

"There can, therefore, be no hardship if a suit is transferred to the City Civil Court as the party gets credit to what he had already paid on the original side of the High Court, as court fees and would be called upon to pay only the difference." .

But the present point, namely, whether a substantive restriction on a plaintiff's right of appeal was imposed did not arise for consideration in that case.

Raghava Rao J. in -- 'Official Assignee, Madras v, Ranganathan', (M), held that in a case transferred from the Original Side of the High Court to the City Civil Court, the additional court fee after giving credit to that paid on the Original Side, could be collected. In coming to the conclusion he relied upon Section 16(3) which in terms says that in any suit or other proceedings so transferred, the Court fees Act, 1870, shall apply, credit being given for any fees levied in the High Court. The present question did not arise for consideration before him. We therefore agree with the appellant that he need only pay the court-fee payable on the appeal at the time when he instituted the suit on the Original Side of the High Court. The court-fee paid by him is correct.


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