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S. Ranganatha Aiyangar Vs. Tiruparankundram Arumuganainar Trust Represented by Its Trustee T.R. Subramanian Chettiar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1956)1MLJ390
AppellantS. Ranganatha Aiyangar
RespondentTiruparankundram Arumuganainar Trust Represented by Its Trustee T.R. Subramanian Chettiar
Cases ReferredPhul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misra
Excerpt:
.....is that when a defeated claimant comes forward as the plaintiff to establish his right to the attached property the value of the subject-matter of the suit for purposes of determining the jurisdiction of the court is the amount for which the attachment was made when that amount is less than the value of the property. but the facts of the case show that the plaintiff there was the unsuccessful decree holder who wanted to attach certain properties as belonging to his judgment-debtor and whose attempt was foiled at the instance of the claimant. there can be no doubt whatever that when the plaintiff in such a suit is the unsuccessful attachment decree-holder-creditor, then the value of the suit for purposes of jurisdiction can only be the decree amount because all that he could claim is..........the judgment-debtor was made a party but no distinct claim was made against him. the value of the attached property was more than the amount for which attachment took place. it was held that the amount for which the attachment took place and not the value of the suit should determine the jurisdiction of the court in which the suit has to be filed, because such a suit was not a suit to obtain a declaration of title to the property but one for getting rid of the effect of the order disallowing the claim and so it ought to be valued at the amount for which the property was attached. following the decision in moideen kutti v. kunhi kutti ali : (1902)12mlj411 , it was further held that a judgment-debtor who is not in fact a party to the claim proceedings does not in the eye of the law become.....
Judgment:

Govinda Menon, J.

1. This case comes up before us on a reference by the Hon'ble the Chief Justice as the question involved is bereft of direct authority.

2. The petitioner was the defendant in O.S. No. 179 of 1951 on the file of the Sub-Court, Madurai which was a suit to set aside a summary order under Order 21, Rule 63, Civil Procedure Code, passed by the District Munsif, Madurai Town, in E.A. No. 228 of 1951 in E.P. No. 2 of 1951 on his file. The respondent herein obtained a decree against one Subramanian Chettiar in the Court of the District Munsif, Madurai Town and in execution thereof attached the properties stated to belong to him whereupon the petitioner objected and filed a claim petition which was rejected by the District Munsif. At the time the application for attachment was made, the amount due under the decree came to Rs. 2979-6-3. The petitioner the defeated claimant has brought the suit to set aside the order of attachment and to establish his right to the property he claims. By the time the suit was filed the decree amount with subsequent interest had risen to Rs. 3120-1-5 and therefore, the suit was filed in the Sub Court, Madurai which according to the plaintiff was the proper Court having jurisdiction to entertain the same. It may be stated that the judgment-debtor was not a party to this suit and no relief as regards title to the property was claimed. Objection was taken by the attaching decree-holder that the proper forum was the District Munsif's Court as the amount for which the property was attached was below the jurisdictional value of that Court and hence for the purpose of jurisdiction, as the suit had been overvalued the Sub-Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the same. The learned Subordinate Judge framed a preliminary issue as to whether the suit had been properly valued for purposes of Court-fee and jurisdiction. He held that the suit has been properly valued for purposes of Court-fee but for purposes of jurisdiction it has been overvalued and hence the suit was not maintainable. On this finding the plaint was directed to be returned for presentation to the proper Court. On appeal by the plaintiff, the learned District Judge, Madurai, disagreeing with the finding of the learned Subordinate Judge held that the suit had been properly valued for purposes of jurisdiction and that the Sub-Court had jurisdiction to entertain the suit. He directed the plaint to be presented to the Sub-Court itself.

3. The defendant who objects to that order on the ground that it was made without jurisdiction has come up in revision.

4. Rule 63 of Order 21, Civil Procedure Code, lays down that where a claim or an objection is preferred, the party against whom an order is made may institute a suit to establish the right which he claims to the property in dispute but subject to the result of such suit, if any, the order shall be conclusive.

5. The period of limitation for filing the suit is one year from the date of the order. Therefore the basis and foundation for a suit of such a nature should be the establishment of the right which the party against whom the order has been made claims to the property in dispute. In Krishnaswami Naidu v. Somasundaram Chettiar (1907) 17 M.L.J. 95 : I.L.R. 30 Mad. 335, a claim to attach the property under Section 278 (Order 21, Rule 58) Civil Procedure Code, being dismissed the unsuccessful claimant sued for a declaration that the property was not liable to attachment as the property of the judgment-debtor. The judgment-debtor was made a party but no distinct claim was made against him. The value of the attached property was more than the amount for which attachment took place. It was held that the amount for which the attachment took place and not the value of the suit should determine the jurisdiction of the Court in which the suit has to be filed, because such a suit was not a suit to obtain a declaration of title to the property but one for getting rid of the effect of the order disallowing the claim and so it ought to be valued at the amount for which the property was attached. Following the decision in Moideen Kutti v. Kunhi Kutti Ali : (1902)12MLJ411 , it was further held that a judgment-debtor who is not in fact a party to the claim proceedings does not in the eye of the law become such by reason solely of his being a judgment-debtor. On that hypothesis the learned Judges were of opinion that the value of the subject-matter of the suit should be taken to be the amount for which the attachment was made and since that amount was less than the value of the property the suit was for a declaration of the plaintiff's title rendered necessary by the order passed against him allowing the attachment at the instance of the decree-holder. The result of the Full Bench decision is that when a defeated claimant comes forward as the plaintiff to establish his right to the attached property the value of the subject-matter of the suit for purposes of determining the jurisdiction of the Court is the amount for which the attachment was made when that amount is less than the value of the property. No mention is made as to what would be the state of things when the decree amount for which the property was attached was higher than the value of the attached property. To the same effect is the earlier decision in Modhu Suddun Koer v. Rakhal Chunder Roy I.L.R. (1887) Cal. 104, where a similar point arose for consideration. Comer Petheram, C.J., in his Judgment following the view taken by the other High Courts held that the amount which is to settle the jurisdiction of the Court is the amount which is in dispute and which the creditor would recover if successful, viz., the amount due to him and not the value of the property attached unless the two amounts happen to be identical. But the facts of the case show that the plaintiff there was the unsuccessful decree holder who wanted to attach certain properties as belonging to his judgment-debtor and whose attempt was foiled at the instance of the claimant. There can be no doubt whatever that when the plaintiff in such a suit is the unsuccessful attachment decree-holder-creditor, then the value of the suit for purposes of jurisdiction can only be the decree amount because all that he could claim is only what is awarded to him by the decree and nothing more, however, much the property might be valuable for if the judgment debtor or the claimant pays up the decree amount the attachment will immediately be raised. Such being the case, so far as the decree-holder plaintiff is concerned, one has necessarily to adopt the criterion that the amount of the decree should determine the jurisdiction of the Court to try the suit under Order 21, Rule 63, Civil Procedure Code. Then again in Khetra v. Mumtaz Begam (1915) 38 All. 72, it has been held that in a suit for a declaration that the property is not liable to attachment and sale in execution of a decree where the value of the property is in excess of the amount claimed in execution of the decree the proper valuation of the suit for purposes of jurisdiction is not the value of the property but the amount for which the decree may be executed, following the decisions in Dwarka Das v. Kameswar Prasad I.L.R. (1894) All. 69, and Dhan Devi v. Zamurrad Begum (1905) 27 All. 440. The reasoning on which the judgment is based is that in a claim suit of such a nature the whole of the property is not in dispute and under attachment and sale which might take place in pursuance of it the whole of the property cannot be sold but only so much of it as would be sufficient for the realisation of the decree. Therefore the value of the subject matter of the suit is the amount of the decree and not the amount of the actual value of the property or the value which the plaintiff alleges it should have. The learned Judges also referred to the Judgment of the Privy Council in Phul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misra , aS containing observations which supported the view taken by that Court. The point that was decided by their Lordships in Phul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misra , was in regard to the proper Court-fee payable in a suit under Section 283 corresponding to Order 21, Rule 63, Civil Procedure Code and they held that the Court-fee payable was that prescribed by Sub-section (1) of Section 17 of the second schedule of the Court-fees Act, namely, Rs. 10 for a suit to alter or set aside the summary decision or order of a Civil Court. At page 207 in the judgment delivered by Lord Robertson we find the following passage:

The value of the action must mean the value to the plaintiff. But the value of the property might be Rs. 1,000 while the execution debt was Rs. 10,000. It is only if the execution debt is less than the value of the property that this amount affects the value of the suit.

This authoritative pronouncement makes it clear that what determines the jurisdiction of the Court regarding the value of the suit is the value to the plaintiff which where the plaintiff is the attaching creditor would mean only the decree amount with interest, etc., and nothing more. But where the defeated claimant is the plaintiff, then where the market value of the property is less than the amount for which it is attached the market value would determine the jurisdiction of the Court. Otherwise it should be the decree amount. There is reason and sound judgment in following such a course for where the value of the property is more than the decree amount what the defeated claimant seeks to obtain is to extricate the whole of his property from the clutches of the attachment created by the decree and where the value of the property is less than the decree amount then what he has to get over is also the effect of the attachment. After the pronouncement of the Judicial Committee in Phul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misra , a bench of this Court consisting of Seshagiri Ayyar and Napier, JJ., in Narayana Singh v. Aiyasami Reddi (1915) 29 M.L.J. 728 : I.L.R. 39 Mad. 602, held the view that where the prayer in a plaint is not only to cancel an attachment but also for declaration that the judgment-debtor has no interest in the property, the value of the suit is the value of the entire property claimed by the plaintiff. There again, the plaintiff was the defeated claimant and in the suit under Order 21, Rule 63, Civil Procedure Code, the value of the property was Rs. 4,000 whereas the decree was only for Rs. 300. The question for determination was what was the value of the suit for purposes of jurisdiction and the subject of consideration in the High Court was whether the value of the suit is the value of the decree or the value of the property. The opinion of the learned Judges was that the latter should be the deciding factor. The learned Judges distinguished the facts of the case in Krishnaswami Naidu v. Somasundaram Chettiar (1907) 17 M.L.J. 95 : I.L.R. 30 Mad. 335, by stating that in the case before them the plaintiff had distinctly asked for an adjudication against the judgment-debtor and claimed declaration of his ownership in the property and such being the case in any event the value to the plaintiff is his full interest in the land the attachment of which he seeks to raise. They further held that the decision of the Full Bench in Krishnaswami Naidu v. Somasundaram Chettiar (1907) 17 M.L.J. 95 : I.L.R. 30 Mad. 335, was based upon the ground that the judgment-debtor would not be affected by the decision of the claim suit. The learned Judges further observed:

It is doubtful whether the Full Bench decision is good law having regard to the decision in Phul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misra .

Finally they held that the value of the suit should be the value of the property claimed by the plaintiff. The question was again raised in Arumuga v. Venkatachala Pillai (1932) 64 M.L.J. 568 : I.L.R. 56 Mad. 716, where the unsuccessful claimant sued for a declaration t hat the suit land was not liable to be attached in execution of the decree obtained by his vendor against a third party. Krishnan Pandalai, J., held that even assuming that in such a suit the subject-matter was the suit land and not the amount of the debt for which it was attached in execution, the value of the land for purposes of jurisdiction was not its market value but it was the value computed according to Section 7(v) of the Court-fees Act. Reference was made to the decision in Krishnaswami Naidu v. Somasundaram Chettiar (1907) 17 M.L.J. 95 : I.L.R. 30 Mad. 335, and Narayana Singh v. Aiyasami Reddi (1915) 29 M.L.J. 728 : I.L.R. 39 Mad. 602. The facts of the case show that it resembled the case in Narayana Singh v. Aiyasami Reddi (1915) 29 M.L.J. 728 : I.L.R. 39 Mad. 602, and it is on that footing that the learned Judge held that the value of the suit should be the value of the property attached. But the Allahabad High Court in Moolchand Motilal v. Ram Kishen I.L.R. (1933) All. 315, took the view that in a suit where the plaintiffs asked for a declaration that certain immovable properties were not liable to be attached and sold in execution of the decree obtained by the first defendant against the second defendant, the amount of the decree sought to be realised determined the value of the suit where the property involved is of larger value than the amount due under the decree. But where the decretal amount is large and the market value of the property involved is smaller,it is the market value of the property that determines the value of the suit. The fact that the judgment-debtor is also impleaded in the suit, as in most cases he is impleaded pro forma makes no difference in the rule. They dissented from the view in Dwaraka Das v. Kameswar Prasad (1894) 17 All. 69, which had been accepted in Khetra v. Mumtaz Begam (1915) 38 All. 72.

6. The only other case which needs reference is Singarachariar v. Lakshmanan Chettiar : (1949)1MLJ195 where Rajamannar, C.J., and Somasundaram, J., after referring to Arumuga Mudaliar v. Venkatachala Pillai (1932) 64 M.L.J. 568 : I.L.R. 56 Mad. 716, and the decision of Pandrang Rao, J., in G.M.A. No. 52 of 1931, approved those decisions by holding that in a suit to set aside the summary order relating to immovable property, for purpose of jurisdiction the subject-matter has to be valued in the manner provided by Section 7(v) of the Court-fees Act implying there by that the value of the land should form the basis for determining the jurisdiction of the Court.

7. On a consideration of these authorities it seems to us that consistent with the pronouncement of Lord Robertson in Phul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misra , it is only where the property involved is of larger value than the amount due under the decree that the decree amount should determine the value of the suit. But where the value of the property is smaller it is that, that should be the touchstone for determining the jurisdiction. But where the decretal amount is large while the market value of the property involved is smaller, then the market value of the property determines the value of the suit. In other cases it is the decretal amount. It is, therefore, clear that a distinction is necessary between cases where the plaintiff is the defeated claimant and cases where the plaintiff is the decree-holder who is foiled in his attempt to attach the property. In the latter case there could certainly be no doubt that the decree amount should alone decide the jurisdiction of the Court. In the former case where the defeated claimant seeks to extricate his property from the clutches of the attachment then if the property is of higher value than the decree amount, the decretal amount determines the jurisdiction. But where the property is of lower value, then the market value of the property should be the guiding factor.

8. In the present case the properties attached are a house in Madurai town and 4 acres and 70 cents of Nanja Lands in Kalikappan Village. It is not disputed that the market value of the house and the value of the land calculated on the basis of Section 7(v) of the Court-fees Act would exceed the amount for which the properties were attached. Such being the case the decree amount should furnish the basis for finding out the jurisdiction of the Court. As stated already, at the time of the attachment, the amount was less than Rs. 3,000 but by the time the suit was filed it had exceeded the jurisdiction value of the District Munsif's Court. The question is whether the interest accrued on the decretal amount should also be taken into account for the purposes of valuation of the suit. It seems to us that the defeated claimant has only to get over the attachment effected for the amount shown in the execution petition. Further increase or decrease of that amount should not in any way make any difference with regard to the forum of the suit. Suppose for example the decree amount for which the property was attached exceeded Rs. 3,000 at the time of the attachment and the rejection of the claim petition but later on by some other process in execution the decree-holder is able to realise some amount, thereby reducing the amount due under the decree though the attachment was for the amount originally due, can it be said that in a suit by the defeated claimant the jurisdiction of the Court should be determined in accordance with the balance of the amount due under the decree though the attachment was for a higher sum. In our view the amount for which the property was attached should determine the jurisdiction of the Court in which the suit ought to be filed by the defeated claimant. Such being the case we do not think that the subsequent interest which has accrued under the decree could be taken into consideration for determining the venue of the suit by the defeated claimant. The deciding factor is the amount as it stands on the date of the attachment and not any fluctuation of it by subsequent events. It is therefore, clear that the view taken by the Subordinate Judge that the suit had not been properly valued for purposes of jurisdiction is correct and that the District Judge acted irregularly in the exercise of his jurisdiction in directing the plaint to be re-presented in the Court of the Subordinate Judge. The order of the Lower Court, is therefore, set aside and the plaint will be presented in the Court of the District Munsif within one month from the date of this order. There will be no order as to costs in this Civil Revision Petition. The costs in the Court below will abide and follow the result of the suit.


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