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Firm of M. Ghakravarthi Iyengar and ors. Vs. the Collector of Madras - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1960)2MLJ207
AppellantFirm of M. Ghakravarthi Iyengar and ors.
RespondentThe Collector of Madras
Cases ReferredIn Ganga Nakken and Anr. v. A. Sundaram Ayyar
Excerpt:
- - though the preamble of the act refers only to suits the operative portions deal with the payment of court-fee not merely in suits, but in other proceedings as well. by way of example i may also refer to schedule ii, article (ix) which speaks of civil, or revenue proceedings thus indicating that the term 'proceedings' is not confined only to judicial matters but might apply to revenue matters as well......i shall refer to that act as the new court-fees act. the appeals are filed under section 54 of the land acquisition act claiming a higher compensation for certain lands acquired in tondiarpet under the town planning act. in respect of the lands so acquired the land acquisition officer published a notification on 14th may, 1955, under section 9. claims were filed by the appellants on 7th june, 1955, stating that they were entitled to a particular amount of compensation. the land acquisition officer passed the award on 14th june, 1955. the claimants were however dissatisfied with the award and at their instance a reference was made under the provisions of section 18 of the act on 21st july, 1955. the principal city civil judge who heard the reference increased the compensation payable to.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. The question referred for decision in the two appeals is whether the Court-fee paid on them is correct.

2. The Court-fee that was paid on the appeals was in accordance with the provisions of the Court-fees Act of 1870 which for the sake of brevity I shall hereafter refer to as the Old Court-fees Act. It is contended on behalf of the State that the Court-fee has got to be calculated on the basis of the Court-fees Act (XIV of 1955) which came into force on 19th May, 1955. I shall refer to that Act as the New Court-fees Act. The appeals are filed under Section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act claiming a higher compensation for certain lands acquired in Tondiarpet under the Town Planning Act. In respect of the lands so acquired the Land Acquisition Officer published a notification on 14th May, 1955, under Section 9. Claims were filed by the appellants on 7th June, 1955, stating that they were entitled to a particular amount of compensation. The Land Acquisition Officer passed the award on 14th June, 1955. The claimants were however dissatisfied with the award and at their instance a reference was made under the provisions of Section 18 of the Act on 21st July, 1955. The principal City Civil Judge who heard the reference increased the compensation payable to the appellants. The latter, however, were dissatisfied with what they got and they have filed the above appeals claiming that they are entitled to higher amount of compensation. The claims in the appeals are respectively Rs. 62,189 and Rs. 34,929-8-0. As I stated already the appellants have paid Court-fee under Schedule I, Article 1 of the Old Court-fees Act. They stated that they are entitled to do so by reason of the provisions of Section 87(2) of the New Court-fees Act. That states,

All suits and proceedings instituted before the commencement of this Act and all proceedings by way of appeal, revision or otherwise arising therefrom whether instituted before or after such commencement shall, notwithstanding the repeal of the Court-fees Act, 1870 (Central Act VII of 1870) and the Suits Valuation Act, 1887 (Central Act VII of 1887) be governed by the provisions of the said Acts and the rules made thereunder.

3. Mr. Ramaswami, appearing for the Government Pleader contended that Section 87(2) of the New Act will not apply as there was no proceedings in existence prior to 21st July, 1955, when a reference under Section 18 was made to the lower Court. According to the learned Counsel the ascertainment of compensation by the Collector or the Land Acquisition Officer under Sections 9 and 11 are administrative in character and not being judicial could not be said to be proceedings within the meaning of the section as the Officer concerned could not be said to be acting as a Court. In support of that contention the learned Counsel referred to the decisions in Ezra v. Secretary of State for India Abdul Sattar Sahib v. Special Deputy Collector, Vizagapatam (1923) 46 M.L.J. 209 : I.L.R. 47 Mad. 357 and Annamalai Chettiar and Ors. v. State of Madras and Ors. O.S.A. No. 27 of 1954.

4. In the present case the reference to the lower Court was made only subsequent to the coming into force of the New Act. It is therefore to be ascertained whether the proceedings could be deemed to be pending before the coming into force of the New Court-fees Act in relation to the award.

5. The term 'proceedings' hss been defined in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as 'doings, a legal action or process, any act done by the authority of a Court of law'. In re Ramanathan Chettiar : AIR1942Mad390 was a case where a question arose as to the proper Court-fee payable on the memorandum of a Civil Revision Petition against an order direct-ting a decree-holder to refund a sum of money received by him as ratable distribution. Venkataramana Rao, J., had to consider the meaning of the term 'proceeding' in Schedule II, Article I (b)(i) of the Old Court-fees Act. The learned Judge held that the word 'proceeding' in its narrow sense could be a step in any action or in an independent proceeding analogous to an action by which a litigation was initiated. In its wider sense if used in juxtaposition with suit, it would include any proceeding in the nature of a suit. The learned Judge further observed that the word 'proceedings' used by itself had been interpreted to mean all judicial proceedings. But having regard to the object of the Court-fees Act the term should be held to be used as meaning a proceeding in the nature of a suit.

6. Mr. Ramaswami, learned Counsel, appearing for the Government, contends that it is an essential element in the term 'proceedings' that it should relate only to the matters before a judicial tribunal and as the Land Acquisition Officer acting under Chapter II of the Land Acquisition Act cannot be said to be acting judicially the proceedings under Sections 9 and 11 of the Act could not be held to be proceedings within the meaning of the term as employed in the New Cour-fees Act. learned Counsel further contended that the proceedings under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act canot be held to be in the nature of a suit as it was purely of an administrative character.

7. It is an accepted rule of interpretation where a statute does not itself provide an interpretation for a particular term or phrase in order to arrive at the true meaning of that word or phrase one should have to understand it in connection with its context, collocation, etc., in accord with the intention of the enactment and that no word or phrase should be understood detached from its context. The New Court-fees Act is a consolidating statute relating to the payment of Court-fee. Though the Preamble of the Act refers only to suits the operative portions deal with the payment of Court-fee not merely in suits, but in other proceedings as well. Section 3(2) defines the term 'Court' thus:

'Court' means any civil, revenue or criminal Court and includes a tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction under any special or local law to decide questions affecting the rights of parties.

8. Section 4 which levies Court-fee in Courts and Public Offices prescribes that Court-fee should be paid in respect of documents filed not merely in the Courts but also in any Public Office. By way of example I may also refer to Schedule II, Article (ix) which speaks of civil, or revenue proceedings thus indicating that the term 'proceedings' is not confined only to judicial matters but might apply to Revenue matters as well. That the Land Acquisition proceedings are within the operation of the statute is made ?clear by the provision of Section 72 (xviii). That provision specifically exempts an application for payment of compensation under any law from the payment of Court-fee. That would indicate that the proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act would come within the scope of the New Court-fees Act but for that exemption. When therefore the New Court-fees Act provides for the payment of Court-fee not merely in regard to suits but also in regard to matters before the other Tribunals or Officers who may be either Revenue or Administrative Officers, it stands to reason that the proceedings referred to in Section 87(2) should comprehend all matters other than suits. It must be pointed out that in the Old Court-fees Act there was no definition of the term 'Court'. Therefore a Tribunal or any other authority invested with the power of deciding the rights of parties would not come within the meaning of the term 'Court'. It cannot be disputed that under Section 11 of the Land Acquistion Act, the Collector is empowered to decide the rights of parties in that he fixes the compensation payable for the property acquired. Section 11 provides for the enquiry and award by the Collector. Section 13 invests the Collector with a power to adjourn the enquiry. Section 14 invests the Collector with power to summon and enforce attendance of witnesses and production of documents. The procedure indicated for the fixing of the amount of compensation under Section 11 would show that the prcceedings before the Collector are analogous to that of a suit, though actually, it is not a suit. Therefore adopting the definition of the term 'proceedings' given in Ramana-than Chettiar, In re : AIR1942Mad390 . I am of opinion that 'proceedings' before the Land Acquisiion Officer under Section 11 would come within the meaning of Section 87(2) of the New Court-fees Act. Mr. Ramaswami then contended that even assuming that the proceedings before the Land Acquisition Officer were held to be proceedings within the meaning of Section 87(2), the provisions of the Old Court-fees Act will not apply to the instant case as the claims were filed before the Land Acquisition Officer only on 7th June, 1955, that is after the coming into force of the New Court-fees Act. In support of that contention he referred to two decisions of the English Courts, Sharpingtou v. Fulham Guardians L.R. (1904) 2 Ch. 449 and Dale v. Hatfield Chase Corporation L.R. (1922) 2 K.B. 282. The former case is not of much assistance for a decision of the present question. In the latter case the date on which the right to compensation was determined was on the date of service of notice. The principle of those decisions will not apply to the present case where under Sections 9 and 11 the jurisdiction of the officer would exist irrespective of any claim. The Land Acquisition Officer gets jurisdiction to assess the compensation on the issue of a notice under Section 9(2). No doubt the procedure indicated in Section 11 requires claims to be filed. But the foundation of the jurisdiction of the Officer is under Section 9 by virtue of the notification thereunder and not by virtue of the claim. For even if the claimant does not put forward any claim there is a statutory obligation cast on the officer to assess the compensation. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the proceedings should be properly said to commence in the present case on the date of the notification under Section 9, namely, 14th May, 1955, that is before the coming into force of the New Court-fees Act.

9. It was then contended that the proceedings by way of reference under Section 18 are not continuation of proceedings before the Land Acquisition Officer under Sections 9 and 11, and that as the proceedings under Section 18 commenced only long after the coming into force of the New Court-fees Act the provisions of the Old Act would not apply. In support of that argument the learned Counsel contended that the term 'otherwise' used in Section 87(2) should be read ejusdem generis with the terms 'appeal' and 'revision' and therefore what Section 87(2) contemplated were proceedings which are analogous to appeal or revision from the original proceeding, and as according to the learned Counsel proceedings under Section 18 being original in nature and not by way of appeal or revision from the proceedings initiated under Section 9, Section 87(2) could be held not to apply under the present case. I am, however, unable to agree. In Ganga Nakken and Anr. v. A. Sundaram Ayyar : AIR1956Mad597 Krishnaswamy Nayudu, J., rejected the contention that the word 'otherwise' in Section 87(2) should be read ejusdem generis with the words appeal and revision'preceding before it. That was a case in which a copy application was filed in respect of an appeal which was filed before coming into operation of the New Act. It cannot be said that a copy application was a proceeding by way of appeal or revision from the substantive appeal. The learned Judge held that the copy application would be governed by the provisions of the Old Court-fees Act in the view that the term 'otherwise' should be understood as meaning arising from. The position in the present case is converse of that in Ganga Naicken and Anr. v. A Sundaram Aiyar : AIR1956Mad597 . I have already held that the proceedings under Sections 9 and 11 of the Land Acquisition Act before the Land Acquisition Officer, were proceedings within the meaning of Section 87(2) of the Act. The reference proceedings under Section 18 is only a continuation or at any rate arises out of those proceedings, though it may not be by way of appeal or revision. That would properly be held as 'otherwise arising therefrom'. It follows that the appeals in this Court which arise out of the proceedings originally started under the notification'under Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act prior to the coming into force of the New Court-fees Act would be governed by the provisions of the Old Court-fees Act by reason of Section 87(2). The Court-fee paid is, therefore, correct.

10. Reference answered.


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