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State of Madras, Represented by the Collector of Kanyakumari Vs. Charles Harold Simpson - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1974)2MLJ122
AppellantState of Madras, Represented by the Collector of Kanyakumari
RespondentCharles Harold Simpson
Cases ReferredCollector of Kanyakumari v. Charles Harold Simpson
Excerpt:
- .....of 1964 on the file of the court of the district judge,. kanyakumari, is the appellant herein. the suit property originally belonged to one kendiran konikkaran whose heirs conveyed the same to the respondent-defendant's grand-mother by a sale deed of the year 195o m.e. (1874 a.d.) and the respondent had succeeded to the suit property as heir to his grand-mother. originally, the respondent instituted a suit in the district court, nagarcoil, which was numbered as o.s. no. 51 of 1957 on the file of the sub-court, nagarcoil praying for a declaration of his title to the suit property and for a permanent injunction restraining the state of madras, the appellant herein, from interfering with his possession thereof. the district court of kanyakumari which included the sub-court at nagarcoil was.....
Judgment:

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The plaintiff, State of Madras represented by the Collector of Kanyakumari, in O.S.No. 4 of 1964 on the file of the Court of the District Judge,. Kanyakumari, is the appellant herein. The suit property originally belonged to one Kendiran Konikkaran whose heirs conveyed the same to the respondent-defendant's grand-mother by a sale deed of the year 195o M.E. (1874 A.D.) and the respondent had succeeded to the suit property as heir to his grand-mother. Originally, the respondent instituted a suit in the District Court, Nagarcoil, which was numbered as O.S. No. 51 of 1957 on the file of the Sub-Court, Nagarcoil praying for a declaration of his title to the suit property and for a permanent injunction restraining the State of Madras, the appellant herein, from interfering with his possession thereof. The District Court of Kanyakumari which included the Sub-Court at Nagarcoil was within the quondam State of Travancore-Cochin. He filed the suit as aforesaid by valuing the relief at Rs. 1,000, asking for substantial reliefs as above stated, which was in accordance with the provisions of law as it existed in the State of Travancore-Cochin. But by Act XXII of 1957, the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, the Suits Valuation Act and the Court-fees Act were extended to that State, with the result, the above O.S.No. 51 of 1957 on the file of the Sub-Court, Nagarcoil was transferred to the District Munsif's Court, Nagarcoil and numbered as O.S No. 88 of 1958. This suit after trial was decreed. The State went on appeal. On a check-slip issued by the office, the appeal memo, was returned for a proper valuation in accordance with the provisions of the Suits Valuation Act and for the payment of the proper Court-fee. The Government Pleader represented that as per the position of law which prevailed at the time when the original suit was instituted, the proper Court-fee was paid and the suit was laid in the proper forum. On such representation, the appeal was entertained and numbered originally as No. 64 of 1960 and later transferred to the Sub-Court, Nagarcoil and numbered as A.S.No. 86 of 1961. The learned Subordinate Judge of Nagarcoil allowed the appeal. The respondent herein came up in second appeal to this Court (S.A. No. 438 of 1961). After hearing the parties, this Court set aside the judgment of the Subordinate Judge and remanded the case for further trial. This eventually resulted in A.S. No. 86 of 1961 being dismissed. The result was that the respondent succeeded till that stage and obtained the declaration sough t for by him when he approached the District Munsif's Court, Nagarcoil. The State, thus confronted with the decision of the Subordinate Judge of Nagarcoil, filed S.A.No. 856 of 1963 and mainly questioned that the transfer of the suit by the Sub-Court, Nagarcoil to the District Munsif's Court, Nagarcoil, as referred to already, was improper. We are not however concerned with the other allegations on which the State based its appeal. Finally a Division Bench of this Court by a judgment reported in State of Madras v. Simpson I.L.R. (1965) 2 Mad. 563, came to the conclusion that the question of valuation and the Court-fee paid on the lis became res judicata and was not open to review and ultimately on merits set aside the judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge and once again remanded the matter for hearing by the appellate Court. This time, the appeal was heard again and the Sub-Court, Nagarcoil dismissed the appeal of the State. In the ultimate analysis the plaintiff succeeded in obtaining a declaration as to his title and also an injunction as against the State restraining it from interfering with his possession. The State once again appealed by way of S.A. No. 266 of 1966. This time also the State was unsuccessful. By a judgment reported in State of Madras v. Charles Harold Simpson (1967) M.L.J. 302 : (1967) 80 L.W. 44 this Court confirmed the judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge and dismissed the State appeal as above. It is also represented before us that on the refusal of leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, a Special Leave was sought for by the State in the Supreme Court, but unsuccessfully.

2. To make the narration complete, whilst the S.A. No. 856 of 1963 was pending in this Court, the State filed an independent action in O.S. No. 4 of 1964 on the file of the District Court, Nagarcoil and prayed for a declaration that the State is entitled to the suit properties and for an injunction restraining the respondent from interfering with the possession and enjoyment of the suit properties in pursuance of the decree in O.S. No. 88 of 1958 on the file of the District Munsif Court, Nagarcoil. We have already traced the history of O.S. No. 88 of 1958 from the beginning to the end.

3. When this case came up for trial, one of the parties to the suit (it is represented at the Bar that it was the State of Madras) sought for a stay of the trial of the suit under Section 10, Civil Procedure Code, as by then the High Court was in seisin of the matter which arose from the judgment of the Subordinate Judge emanating from O.S. No. 88 of 1958 on the file of the District Munsif Court, Nagarcoil. O.S. No. 4 of 1964 on the file of the District Court, Nagarcoil was thus stayed. After the disposal of S.A. No. 266 of 1966, by this Court, the trial of O.S. No. 4 of 1966 was taken up. Curiously enough the same grounds were tread by the State and tightly the learned District Judge discountenanced all the contentions on merits and even the question of law that the resultant decision in O.S.No. 88 of 1958 which had the blessings of the High Court and even the Supreme Court would not bind the State. The learned District Judge after trial dismissed the suit of the State and it is as against this, the present appeal has been filed.

4. Mr. G. Ramaswami, learned Counsel for the appellant-State, would give the reason as to why the occasion arose for the State to file an independent suit, O.S. No. 4 of 1964. One Ramanathan Pillai filed O.S. No. 51 of 1963 on the file of the Sub-Court, Nagarcoil, praying for a declaration that a certain property was absolutely his and sought for a declaration of title and necessary consequential reliefs. It appears that a portion of the present suit property was included in the property claimed by Mr. Ramanathan Pillai. As a matter of fact, the State as well as the respondent were parties to that litigation. Ultimately it was declared that no portion of the property claimed by Ramanathan Pillai did form part of the present suit property. But the impression gained that a portion of the suit property in this litigation was also claimed by Ramanathan Pillai, was responsible for the independent suit filed by the State in O.S.No. 4 of 1964 on the file of the District Court, Nagarcoil.

5. Before the learned District Judge and even before us it was contended that the valuation of the suit property as was done by the respondent before the District Munsif Court, Nagarcoil, in O.S. No. 88 of 1958, being obviously an attempt to avoid the provision of law, the earlier litigation and the resultant decisions rendered by this Court would not bind the State. In this respect, the appellant sought for a reopening of the entire decision which has become practically final. But the learned District Judge both on merits and on the specific question of law raised as above would not agree with the contention raised on behalf of the State. As a matter of fact, no evidence other than the evidence that formed part of the suit O.S.No. 88 of 1958 was adduced except for the reiteration of the legal contentions which have been finally decided in the eye of law. In view of the earlier litigation, no further argument was urged before the trial Court. It was in those circumstances, the trial Court would not agree with the contentions of the State and dismissed the suit.

6. Mr. G. Ramaswami raised similar contentions before us, but in all fairness, he did not traverse through the entire grounds on merit. He however, hesitantly contended that if a deliberate undervaluation of the property is made in a suit and by mistake or otherwise the Court decides the matter, then such a decision cannot be said to be one which is valid, but on the other hand, his contention is that it is a nullity for all purposes. Ultimately, he would put it that the judgment so rendered is without jurisdiction.

7. We would have been inclined to hear this contention once over but for the fact that in State of Madras v. Simpson I.L.R. (1965) Mad. 563, a Bench of this Court practically covered the point and held that the valuation adopted by the respondent for the purposes of Court-fee and jurisdiction was correct. They also put it on the ground of estoppel. The learned Judge would hold thus:

But in the instant case, the State of its own choice not only filed the appeal in the District and in the High Courts, but at the same time adopted and accepted the plaintiff's valuation of the subject-matter in dispute. Hence the State would be precluded from raising the present objection as to jurisdiction.

8. On the other question raised as to whether the judgment so tendered by this Court is a nullity, since a Court which ordinarily would not entertain a suit because of its valuation did entertain it, went into it and rendered a decision thereon, this position is now covered by two decisions of the Supreme Court.

9. In Kiran Singh v. Ghaman Paswan (1951.) 2 M.L.J. 60 : 1954 S.C.J. 514 : (1955) 1 S.C.R. 170 : A.I.R. 1934 S.C. 340, Venkata ama Iyer, J., speaking for the Bench observed as follows:

With reference to objections relating to territorial jurisdiction, Section 21, Civil Procedure Code, enacts that no objection to the place of suing should be allowed by an appellate or revisional Court, unless there was a consequent failure of justice. It is the same principle that has been adopted in Section II of the Suits Valuation Act with reference to pecuniary jurisdiction. The policy underlying Sections 21 and 99, Civil Procedure Code and Section II of the Suits Valuation Act is the same, namely, that when a case had been tried by a Court on the merits and judgment rendered, it should not be liable to be reversed purely on technical grounds, unless it had resulted in failure of justice, and the policy of the legislature has been to treat objections to jurisdiction both territorial and pecuniary as technical and not open to consideration by an appellate Court, unless there has been a prejudice on the merits.

10. Even so, in Hiralal v. Kalinatk : [1962]2SCR747 the Supreme Court observed that it is well-settled that the objection as to local jurisdiction of a Court does not stand on the same footing as an objection to the competence of a Court in a case and goes to the very root of the jurisdiction, and where it is lacking, it is a case of inherent lack of jurisdiction. It also observed that on the other hand an objection as to the local jurisdiction of a Court can be waived and the principle has been given a statutory recognition by enactments like Section 21, Civil Procedure Code. The Court further observed that the validity of a decree can be challenged in execution proceedings only on the ground that the Court which passed the decree was lacking in inherent jurisdiction in the sense that it could not have seisin of the case because the subject-matter was wholly foreign to its jurisdiction or that the defendant was dead at the time the suit had been instituted or decree passed, or some such other ground which could have the effect of rendering the Court entirely lacking in jurisdiction in respect of the subject-matter of the suit or over the parties to it. It cannot be said in the instant case that there is such an inherent lack of jurisdiction. As pointed out by the highest Court of the land, any objection as to lack of jurisdiction both territorial and pecuniary is a technical one and the decision rendered is not open to consideration by an appellate Court, unless there has been a prejudice on the merits. In this case, the decision of this Court in State of Madras v. Simpson I.L.R. (1965) Mad. 563, makes it clear that the State adopted the valuation of the respondent at all material times and therefore they have waived all technical objection. It therefore follows that any defect regarding the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court is not so vital which goes to the very root of the subject-matter of the litigation so as to render the ultimate judgment given by it equatable to a nullity. Even otherwise, the ultimate view taken by this Court in (State of Madras by Collector of Kanyakumari v. Charles Harold Simpson) : (1967)2MLJ302 is yet again a decision given by this Court on the basis of the valuation given by the respondent in the District Munsifs Court, Nagarcoil when it was in the State of Travancore-Cochin. This decision of this Court which has become unchallengeable in the sense that a further attempt by the State to test its correctness in the Supreme Court was also unsuccessful binds the State and precludes it from reopening the question on the very same. or on similar grounds. We are therefore unable, to agree with the learned Government Pleader that the decision rendered in the earlier series of litigations emanating from O.S. No. 88 of 1958 on the file of the District Munsifs Court, Nagarcoil has no significance at all in the eye of law. On the other hand, it binds the State to the extent that it is not open to it in this appeal before us to attempt to reopen the question and contend that if the suit property is not valued in accordance with the principles laid down in the Suits Valuation Act, then the District Munsif ought not to have tried the suit without the party paying requisite Court-fee as required by the then law governing the situation. It is also apposite to note that it was the State which filed an application for stay of trial of the suit O.S. No. 4 of 1964 from which this appeal arises and this also is a pointer that even at that stage the State was rot inclined to disturb the already set state of affairs particularly in the matter of evaluation of the suit property and the payment of Court-fee. No other argument is addressed before us on the merits. In fact, we would not have allowed it on the ground that the decisions on the other issues have become res judicata

11. In the result, the appeal fails and the same is dismissed. But having regard to the fact that there was some cause for the State to file the suit O.S. No. 4 of 1964 on the file of the District Court, Nagarcoil because of the provocation given by Ramanathan Pillai and as they were awaiting the decision in S.A.No. 266 of 1966, we do not think that the respondent should be awarded costs of this appeal. There will be no order as to costs in this appeal.


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