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S. Jayam Sunder Rajaratnam Vs. K. Muthuswami Kangani - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1958)1MLJ194
AppellantS. Jayam Sunder Rajaratnam
RespondentK. Muthuswami Kangani
Cases Referred and Subramania Ayyar v. Annaswami Aiyar
Excerpt:
.....the foreign judgment. it may well be that the defendant is liable even to account for the proceeds of the sale of the properties belonging to his father but that fact does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that this liability could be enforced in the tiruchirapalli court. we fail to see how this suit is a suit for determination of any right to or any interest in immoveable property. we fail to see why the defendant could not raise the plea that the court had no jurisdiction along with the other pleas that the suit was barred by time and that the suit was not maintainable on the foreign judgment......due under that decree. the suit was filed, as already mentioned in the court of the subordinate judge, tiruchirapalli. admittedly, the defendant was a resident of ceylon. in paragraph 8 of the plaint, the cause of action for the suit was alleged to have arisen in the villages of alathudayanpatti and alagapuri, musiri taluk, tiruchirapalli district, 'where the defendant owns and is possessed of properties.'2. several pleas were raised in defence, namely: (1) that the plaint disclosed no cause of action for a suit in the tiruchirapalli court because the defendant did not reside nor did he have a permanent dwelling within the jurisdiction of that court ; and the cause of action for the suit did not arise within the jurisdiction of the said court; it was further alleged that the defendant.....
Judgment:

P.V. Rajamannar, C.J.

1. In this appeal the defendant in Original Suit No. 258 of 1951 is the appellant. The suit was filed by the respondent in the Subordinate Judge's Court, Tiruchirapalli, for the recovery of a sum of Rs. 8,500 from the defendant on the basis of a foreign judgment and decree which the respondent admittedly obtained in the District Court of Nuwaraeliya, Holden at Hatton, Ceylon, on the 26th of October, 1948. The suit in the Ceylon Court was filed on a promissory note executed by the father of the defendant in favour of the plaintiff on the 17th of April, 1942, for a sum of Rs. 3,500,payable with interest at 18 per cent, per annum. The defendant who is the appellant before us was ex parte in that suit and, according to the procedure obtaining in Ceylon, a decree nisi was passed after taking the evidence of the plaintiff and finally the decree was made absolute after notice of the decree nisi had been served on the defendant and the latter had failed to appear in spite of the notice. In the plaint it was alleged that a decree on the merits had been passed and the defendant had not paid the amount due under that decree. The suit was filed, as already mentioned in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Tiruchirapalli. Admittedly, the defendant was a resident of Ceylon. In paragraph 8 of the plaint, the cause of action for the suit was alleged to have arisen in the villages of Alathudayanpatti and Alagapuri, Musiri Taluk, Tiruchirapalli District, 'where the defendant owns and is possessed of properties.'

2. Several pleas were raised in defence, namely: (1) that the plaint disclosed no cause of action for a suit in the Tiruchirapalli Court because the defendant did not reside nor did he have a permanent dwelling within the jurisdiction of that Court ; and the cause of action for the suit did not arise within the jurisdiction of the said Court; it was further alleged that the defendant had no immoveable property in the district of Tiruchirapalli at all ; (2) the judgment of the Ceylonese Court was not on the merits ; and (3) the suit was barred by limitation as the promissory note was dated 17th April, 1942 and the suit was filed in 1951.

3. On those pleadings several issues were raised of which the following are the most material:

(1) Is the suit in this Court competent ?

(2) Is the suit in time ?

(3) Does the suit on foreign Judgment lie ?

4. The learned Subordinate Judge of Tiruchirapalli, who tried the suit found in favour of the plaintiff on all these three issues and the suit was decreed. Hence in this appeal the defendant is the appellant.

5. Mr. S. Amudhachari, the learned Counsel for the defendant-appellant first contended that the suit on the foreign judgment was not sustainable because there was no judgment on the merits. The only point he could urge in support of this contention was that the appellant was ex parte in that suit. It is clear, however, that though the judgment and decree of a foreign Court might have been passed ex parte if it was passed on a consideration of the evidence adduced in the case, the decision must be deemed to have been on the merits. It is in evidence that the plaintiff was examined in the Ceylonese Court and he proved his claim and the Court passed a decree in his favour after it was convinced that the claim put forward by him was true and was established. There is no substance, therefore, in this contention.

6. There is, however, considerable force in the next contention that the Court at Tiruchirapalli had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. In our opinion, this contention must prevail. In the plaint the only ground on which it was alleged that the Court of the Subordinate Judge had jurisdiction was that the defendant owned and was possessed of properties in two villages within the jurisdiction of that Court. It was averred that the defendant owned and was possessed of these properties at the time of the institution of the suit, because the present tense ' owns and is possessed of was used. As already mentioned the defendant denied the fact he had any immoveable property in Tiruchirapalli. He further raised the legal contention that even if he was possessed of immoveable property situated within the jurisdiction of that Court, nevertheless, that fact alone would not confer jurisdiction on the Court, when the suit was not for the recovery or in respect of immoveable property. The plaintiff did not adduce any evidence to show that the defendant was possessed of any immoveable property within the limits of the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Tiruchirapalli on the date of the institution of the suit. The only evidence adduced by the plaintiff in this matter was the registration copies of two sale deeds, executed on the 5th September, 1948(Exhibits A-3 and A-4) by the defendant and another to one Palaniyandi Mudaliar. Nothing was mentioned about these two sale deeds in the plaint, as for instance, that these sale deeds were nominal or were otherwise invalid so that the defendant continued to own and possess the properties covered by these two sale deeds. Nor was it alleged in the plaint that the defendant had other immoveable properties within the jurisdiction of the Subordinate Judge of Tiruchirapalli. There was no oral evidence either to prove this fact. The defendant gave no evidence. On this evidence there can only be one conclusion at which any Court can arrive namely, that the plaintiff has not proved that the defendant owned or was possessed of any immoveable property within the jurisdiction of the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Tiruchirapalli on the date of the institution of the suit. The plaint did not contain any other averment to maintain the jurisdiction of the said Court.

7. Mr. K.S. Rajagopalachari, if we have followed his arguments aright put forward the following alternative contentions. Firstly, he said that the Court of the Subordinate Judge at Tiruchirapalli had jurisdiction under Section 20(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure which provides that the suit should be instituted in the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the cause of action wholly or in part arises. We are not able to follow, however, what part of the cause of action arose within the local limits of the Tiruchirapalli Court. Admittedly, the promissory note was not executed in India. It was nobody's case that the money was payable at Tiruchirapalli within the limits of the Tiruchirapalli Court. Even assuming that there were immoveable properties within the local limits of the Court we fail to see how the presence of such immoveable properties can give rise to a cause of action for recovery of money due under the foreign judgment.

8. Mr. Rajagopalachari then referred to Section 52 of the Code and the liability of a legal representative of a deceased person by reason of intermeddling with the estate of the deceased. We are not, however, concerned with the liability of the defendant as such ; the question is whether the Tiruchirapalli Court has jurisdiction. It may well be that the defendant is liable even to account for the proceeds of the sale of the properties belonging to his father but that fact does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that this liability could be enforced in the Tiruchirapalli Court. No authority was cited in support of this contention of Mr. Rajagopalachari. We have no hesitation in holding that the cause of action neither in whole nor in part arose within the local limits of the Subordinate Judge's Court, Tiruchirapalli.

9. Mr. Rajagopalachari next referred to Section 16(d) of the Code. Under that provision, suits for the determination of any other right to or interest in immoveable property shall be instituted in the Court within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the property is situate. We fail to see how this suit is a suit for determination of any right to or any interest in immoveable property. The suit is a plain suit for the recovery of a sum of money. The prayer is for a decree against the defendant for the sum mentioned with subsequent interest and costs. How a suit for the recovery of money, without more, can be described as a suit for the determination of any right to or any interest in immoveable property we are unable to comprehend. Here again, learned Counsel was unable to cite any authority in support of his contention. He incidentally also referred to Section 44-A of the Code of Civil Procedure, but for what purpose we are unable to understand. Admittedly, there is no reciprocity between Ceylon and India in the matter of execution of decrees.

10. It follows, therefore, that the Court of the Subordinate Judge at Tiruchirapalli had no jurisdiction whatever to entertain the suit.

11. Mr. Rajagopalachari then raised a curious contention which may be comprehensively described as a plea of submission to jurisdiction. He cited to us the rulings in Ayoob Sait v. Thirunavukarasu : AIR1936Mad552 , and Subramania Ayyar v. Annaswami Aiyar : (1947)2MLJ279 , and also passages from Dicey on Conflict of Laws, 6th Edn., page 357. We must confess that we are unable to follow his argument. Here were several pleas raised by the defendant, including the plea as to jurisdiction, plea of limitation and a plea on the merits. Issues were framed in respect of all the three pleas. If Mr. Rajagopalachari's contention is right it means that the learned Subordinate Judge was not called upon to record even a finding on the issue as to jurisdiction because, according to him, the defendant had submitted to the jurisdiction of the Tiruchirapalli Court. Naturally, learned Counsel was unable to cite any authority to support this extraordinary contention. Here was a case where the defendant, admittedly, was not residing within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Court and no part of the cause of action had arisen within such limits. The suit did not relate to immoveable property which was situated within such limits. The suit was based on a foreign decree and judgment. It was, therefore, a case of total want of jurisdiction in the Court at Tiruchirapalli. We fail to see why the defendant could not raise the plea that the Court had no jurisdiction along with the other pleas that the suit was barred by time and that the suit was not maintainable on the foreign judgment. The defendant could succeed in getting the suit dismissed even if he succeeded on any one of the pleas.

12. We therefore, hold that the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Tiruchirapalli, had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit filed by the respondent on the foreign Judgment. We allow the appeal and dismiss the suit. No order as to costs either in the Court below or here.


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