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K. Natesa Ayyar Vs. Kothandarama Ayyar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. No. 154 of 1951
Judge
Reported inAIR1951Mad1002; (1951)2MLJ92
ActsSuits Valuation Act, 1881 - Sections 8; Madras Civil Courts Act, 1873 - Sections 14
AppellantK. Natesa Ayyar
RespondentKothandarama Ayyar and anr.
Appellant AdvocateT.S. Kuppuswami Aiyar and ;R. Swaminatha Aiyar, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateK.S. Ramamurthi, Adv.
Cases ReferredSingarachariar v. LakshmanaChettiar
Excerpt:
- - ..in every suit where it is not possible to estimate at a money value the subject-matter in dispute'.it is well settled in this court that where a plaintiff who claims to be in possession asks for partition, his plaint is in respect of a subject-matter on which it is not possible to put a money value. though the anomalies which abound in the court-fees act often make logic a treacherous guide in interpreting its provisions, one must do one's best to minimise the illogicalities involved. i do not think that it will be right, after holding as this court has done, that the subject-matter in an action like the present one is incapable of valuation under article 17 (b) to rule that nevertheless it falls within section 14 of the civil courts act......is in possessions of the property.'section 14 of the madras civil courts act provides :'when the subject-matter of any suit or proceeding is land, a house or a garden, its value shall, for purposes of the jurisdiction conferred by this act, be fixed in the manner provided by the court-fees act, 1870, section 7, clause 5.'on a first look at this section one is tempted to say that the subject-matter of a suit for partition consists of the land, house or garden in relation to which the action has been brought and the partition of which is asked for. such a view would be a legitimate view and would follow from a 'prima facie' reading of section 14. a difficulty however is created by the view which this court has taken of the provisions of article 17 (b) of schedule 2 to the court-fees act......
Judgment:
ORDER

Balakrishna Ayyar, J.

1. The question for determination here is :

'What is the value for purposes of jurisdiction in a case where the plaintiff sues for partition on the footing that he is in possessions of the property.'

Section 14 of the Madras Civil Courts Act provides :

'When the subject-matter of any suit or proceeding is land, a house or a garden, its value shall, for purposes of the jurisdiction conferred by this Act, be fixed in the manner provided by the Court-Fees Act, 1870, Section 7, Clause 5.'

On a first look at this section one is tempted to say that the subject-matter of a suit for partition consists of the land, house or garden in relation to which the action has been brought and the partition of which is asked for. Such a view would be a legitimate view and would follow from a 'prima facie' reading of Section 14. A difficulty however is created by the view which this Court has taken of the provisions of Article 17 (B) of schedule 2 to the Court-Fees Act. That Article relates to a 'plaint.........in every suit where it is not possible to estimate at a money value the subject-matter in dispute'. It is well settled in this Court that where a plaintiff who claims to be in possession asks for partition, his plaint is in respect of a subject-matter on which it is not possible to put a money value. It seems to me that there is something incongruous in saying in one and the same breath that in an action of this kind the subject-matter is incapable of being valued in money and at the same time saying that the subject-matter of the suit is 'land, a house or a garden' which things are obviously capable of being valued in terms of money. Though the anomalies which abound in the Court-fees Act often make logic a treacherous guide in interpreting its provisions, one must do one's best to minimise the illogicalities involved. I do not think that it will be right, after holding as this Court has done, that the subject-matter in an action like the present one is incapable of valuation under Article 17 (B) to rule that nevertheless it falls within Section 14 of the Civil Courts Act. If Section 14 of the Madras Civil Courts Act does not apply, then the market value of the properties which the plaintiff claims for his share must be treated as the value of the suit for purposes of jurisdiction.

2. I find that in 'Mallayya v. Jagannadhamma', 1941 2 Mad 567, Lakshmana Rao J. took the same view:

'In a suit for partition by persons in joint possession, the value for purposes of jurisdiction is the actual market value of the property in suit.'

I take it as obvious that the learned Judge meant to say the value of the plaintiff's share. Though there was a full and probably exhaustive discussion of the relevant decisions before me, my attention was not drawn to any case in which any doubt has been expressed about the correctness of the decision of Lakshmana Rao J. Of the cases which Mr. Ramamurthi read before me it will suffice to refer to two. One is 'Singarachariar v. Lakshmanan Chettiar', 1949 1 Mad 195. In that case a suit was filed by a creditor to set aside a summary order which held that the properties did not belong to the judgment-debtor. Subsequently, the plaint was amended so as to include a prayer for a declaration that a trust deed executed by the judgment-debtor was a sham, nominal and fraudulent transaction. It was held in that case that Section 14 of the Madras Civil Courts Act applied and that in consequence the suit had to be valued in the manner provided by Section 7(v) of the Court-Fees Act.The suit being to set aside a summary order,it will be correct to say that the subject-matterof the suit was really the property in relationto which the order had been passed. It willbe perceived that if the summary order wereconfirmed, the creditor would lose his right toproceed against the property. On the otherhand, if the order were set aside, the propertywould be made available to satisfy the claimof the decree-holder. In other words, the subject-matter of the suit was in substance theland to which the summary order related. Inthe present case the subject-matter of the suitmust be regarded as consisting not of 'land, ahouse or a garden', but the right of the plaintiff to have those properties divided up. 'Singarachari's case' does not, therefore, apply. Theother decision cited by Mr. Ramamurthi is theone in 'Arumuga Mudaliar v. VenkatachalaPillai', 56 Mad 716. That too related to a summary order and the observations already madein regard to 'Singarachariar v. LakshmanaChettiar', : (1949)1MLJ195 , would apply. Itherefore conclude that for purposes of jurisdiction, the market value is the one that governs.Since this value has not been ascertained therewill be a direction to the Court below to ascertain the market value of the plaintiff's shareand if thereafter it is found that the suit iswithin the cognizance of the District Munsif,he will go on with it. If it exceeds his jurisdiction, he will return the plaint in order thatit may be presented to the appropriate Court.(3) In the plaint there was a prayer for adeclaration and Mr. Ramamurthi argued thatby reason thereof, the matter fell within thescope of Section 74(c) of the Court-fees Act. I donot think there is any great weight in this contention. In numerous partition suits a questionfrequently to be decided is : What the properties are of the joint family which are liableto be partitioned. Various claims and counterclaims are put forward in respect of the properties and the mere fact that a decision has tobe given about them will not bring the suitunder Section 74 (c) of the Court-fees Act. Theprayer for a declaration was really superfluousand does not affect the question of jurisdiction.The costs of this revision petition will becosts in the suit.


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