1. This is an application made on behalf of the Secretary of State for India in Council, for leave to appeal to His Majesty in Council against the decision of this Court in A.S. No. 179 of 1937. That judgment did not decide the rights of the parties finally but only remanded the suit for trial on the merits. In the Court below, an objection had been taken to the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the suit on the ground that the suit was barred by the provisions of the Sea Customs Act (vide issue 3). The lower Court tried this issue as a preliminary issue and upholding the objection dismissed the suit. On appeal by the plaintiff, this Court held that the Civil Court was not deprived of jurisdiction in the matter by the provisions of the Sea Customs Act and accordingly directed the case to be tried on the merits.
2. It has been held that an order of the above kind is not a 'final order' within the meaning of Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 109, Civil Procedure Code. The learned Advocate-General accordingly relied upon Clause (c) of that section and asked us to certify that this is a case fit to be taken in appeal to His Majesty's Privy Council. The amount claimed in the suit is more than Rs. 20,000 and the question of jurisdiction decided by this Court is a substantial question of law and one of general importance. It was however pressed on us by the learned Counsel for the respondents that it would be a hardship to his clients to take steps to appear before the Judicial Committee at this stage as the matter might as conveniently be carried in. appeal to the Privy Council after a final decision of the case on the merits. If, for any reason, the lower Court should decide against the plaintiffs on the merits, an appeal to His Majesty in Council by the Secretary of State, might, it was pointed out, not be necessary at all. It was also contended that the respondents are being kept out of possession of a large sum of money and that any further delay in the disposal of the suit on the merits would cause great loss to them. We have carefully considered this aspect of the matter. Before coming to a final conclusion, we desired to know whether there was any urgency for obtaining an adjudication from the Judicial Committee on the question of jurisdiction; and on information obtained from the department, the learned Advocate-General informed us that this question of jurisdiction is awaiting decision in eight suits pending in this province and that if, in the ordinary course, the Courts in the moffussil should follow our decision, it would be necessary for the Secretary of State to bring them all in appeal to this Court. It was also represented that there were other claims of the same kind in which notice of suit had been given and that some litigations were pending in the Courts in other provinces. In view of these considerations and having regard to the general importance of the question, we have come to the conclusion that this is a fit case to be certified under Clause (c) of Section 109, Civil Procedure Code. The question whether any possible hardship to the respondents arising from this course can be remedied by an appropriate order as to costs must be left to be dealt with by their Lordships of the judicial Committee; we have no power to impose any conditions in that behalf. A certificate will be granted under Clause (c) of Section 109, Civil Procedure Code.