Raghava Rao, J.
1. After the lengthy arguments I haveheard in this case the principles that to mymind appear to emerge for consideration andapplication in this case are these. (1) A writtenstatement pleading a set-off, whether legal orequitable, must bear court-fee whether the setoff is tantamount to an extinguishment of theplaint claim or to a partial reduction of theplaint claim; (2) where the written statementon its allegations refers to the payments whichwill have the effect of either extinguishing orreducing the suit claim as payments which inlaw must be held to be in the nature of 'payments to the plaintiff himself,' the defendantis not under an obligation to pay any court feeon that amount although when he fails to provethe legal effect of the payments in question tobe that of payments to the plaintiff himself, theplea of the credit claimed by the defendant onthe foot of payments may have to fail. Thislatter principle is really a corollary to thelarger principle applicable to plaints that thepayment of court-fee on the plaint must bejudged with reference to the allegations in theplaint.
2. I have carefully examined the present written statement with the aid of counsel and I have come to the distinct conclusion that there is nothing which involves the defendant on the allegations therein in the position that he is pleading a set-off legal or equitable. He is pleading two items of credit with reference to what would be in the nature of an advance payment of rent or payments under the Madras Tenants and Ryots Protection Act (Madras Act 17 of 1946). The defendants here are only resisting the plaintiffs' claim on a very legitimate ground with reference to which on first principles it will be rather difficult to say that the defendants have to pay any amount or court-fee at all. But there is a provision in the Court-fees Act, Schedule I, Article 1, which says that a written statement pleading a set-off must be stamped in the same manner in which a plaint might have to be stamped ad valorem. Notwithstanding this, I do not see any reason on principle, why if the written statement does not claim any particular amounts either in reduction or in extinction of the suit claim on the basis of what he describes a set-off, the defendant should be called upon to pay any court fee merely because in the ultimate result after the item have been examined it turns out that what is asked for by the defendant is a set off. For the reasons given above, I am of opinion that the written statement in this case is not hit at by the provisions of Schedule I, Rule 1 of the Court-fees Act. I reverse the decision of the court below and direct it to accept the written statement as properly stamped and proceed with the trial of the suit hereafter. The petitioners will have costs from the respondents in this Court.