1. The question raised in this civil revision petition is that the suit is beyond the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Munsiff's Court, Tirupattur. The suit is one for a declaration that the plaintiffs have certain customary and mamool rights--inter alia--to graze cattle, to take leaves for manure, to cut and take wood required for fuel and other building and domestic purposes and for agricultural implements and to take grass for roofing--all free of charges--in a forest area belonging to the second defendant who is the petitioner in this Court. There is also a prayer for injunction. The plaint was valued at Rs. 100 under Section 7, Clause (iv)(e), of the Court-fees Act. Objection was taken in the written statement that the correct value of the suit was above Rs. 3,000 and that the trial Court has no pecuniary jurisdiction to try the suit. The lower Court found in favour of the plaintiffs and held that the suit was properly valued and the second defendant has filed this revision petition. Mr. V.T. Rangaswami Aiyangar, the learned advocate for the petitioner, urges that this case comes directly under Clause (iv)(c) of Section 7, which runs thus:
Suit to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief is prayed.
2. The Madras Amendment is that in a suit coming under sub-clause (c), in cases where the relief sought is with reference to any immoveable property, such valuation shall not be less than half the value of the immoveable property calculated in the manner provided for by paragraph (v) of the section. It is said that the suit is with reference to an immoveable property and that therefore the Madras amendment applied to this case. Reliance is placed upon the decision of Jackson, J., in Venkata-krishna Pattar, In re (1926) 52 M.L.J. 121 and the observations of Wadsworth, J., in Sri Rajah Nayani Venkataranga Rao Bahadur v. Sri Rajah Tadakamalla Sitaramachandra Rao Bahadur : AIR1941Mad91 . In the case before Jackson, J., the lower Court directed the plaintiff to pay court-fees under Section 7, Clause (iv)(c) as amended in Madras. The plaintiffs acquiesced in the validity of that order and paid the court-fee as directed by the District Munsiff. The defendant brought up the matter in revision and urged that the suit should have been valued under Section 7, Clause (v)(e) as one for the possession of the paramba and the buildings thereon. The only point that was decided by Jackson, J., was that Section 7, Clause (v) did not apply. There was no question raided before the learned Judge about the correctness of the decision of the trial Court that the suit should be valued under Section 7, Clause (iv)(c), as amended by the Madras Act. The decision is only an authority for the proposition that in such cases Section 7, Clause (v), is not applicable. In fact, the learned Judge says thus:
In the present suit the question of title is not raised at all; it is only a question of easement and the difficulty is to decide how far the Madras proviso is applicable to such cases. Inasmuch as the relief sought is the declaration of a right of easement, the relief may be said to be with reference to immoveable property; but it refers to no immoveable property that can be possessed as contemplated by Section 7, Clause (v). It almost seems that the proviso should be read with the clause so as to make ' with reference to ' mean involving the possession of land, houses or gardens; and then the proviso would not be applicable to easements a all.
3. Thus Jackson, J., was inclined to take the view that the expression ' with reference to ' means ' involving the possession of land.' So, unless the relief asked involved the possession of land, the Madras proviso would not apply and as easements do not involve possession of land, house or gardens, the proviso does not apply to easements at all. The position is clarified by Varadachariar, J., in Gurunatha Chettiar v. The Secretary of State (1935) 70 M.L.J. 625 : where the learned Judge points out that the expression ' with reference to ' occurring in the Madras amendment really involves the idea that it must have reference to a question of title to immoveable property. The learned Judge says thus :
The amendment provides for a case where 'the relief sought is with reference to any immoveable property' It seems to me that the prima facie interpretation of that expression is that the dispute should in some sense relate to the title to immoveable property. This is obviously Jackson, J.'s opinion in In re Venkatakrishna Pattar (1926) 52 M.L.J. 121. The learned Judge points the difficulties and anomalies to which any other construction will lead. It is true that in that case the lower Court had asked the plaintiff to pay Court-fee on the basis of the Madras Amendment to Section 7, Clause (iv)(c). But there was no complaint against it by the plaintiff and the learned Judge had only to deal with the defendant's contention that the suit must be valued as one for possession.
4. In the case before Wadsworth, J., reported in Sri Rajah Nayani Venkataranga Rao Bahadur v. Sri Rajah Tadakamalla Sitaramachandra Rao Bahadur : AIR1941Mad91 the point did not arise for consideration. The only decision on the point is that of Varadachariar, J., in Gurunatha Chettiar v. Secretary of State (1935) 70 M.L.J. 625 : I.L.R. 59 Mad. and, in my opinion, that is the correct view to take. It is preposterous to say that where a plaintiff wants a right of passage across his neighbour's land the plaintiff should be called upon to, pay Court-fee on half of the full value of the neighbour's land. There are other difficulties in the way of accepting the petitioner's argument. Obviously such cases come under Section 7, Clause (iv)(e) and that result is achieved by confining the Madras Amendment to cases where title to or possession of immoveable property is involved. This revision petition is dismissed.