1. The two revision cases in connexion with which this reference has been made have arisen out of a suit, the facts of which, so far as they are necessary at the present stage, are the following: On the .10th January ' 1930, the Narayangunj Central Co-operative Sale and Supply Society Ltd., obtained an arbitration award under the provisions of Act 2 of 1912 against two persons, Moulvi Mafizuddin Ahmed and Jowad Ali Khondkar. The award was for an amount of Rs. 11,400. The company went into liquidation, and thereafter the award was put into execution. After failing in certain objections that were taken to the execution of the award, the former of the said defendants brought a suit in the Munsif's Court at Narayangunj to set aside the award on a declaration that it had been fraudulently obtained and also praying for a permanent injnuction to restrain the liquidator from proceeding with the execution. He valued the suit at Rs. 49 and paid court-fees on the plaint according to such valuation. The Munsif held that as the plaintiff wanted to get rid of a document creating a liability for Rs. 11,400 the suit was prima facie undervalued, that the court-fee paid was insufficient, and that his Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. He accordingly returned the plaint to the plaintiff for presentation to the proper Court and dismissed the prayer for a temporary injunction which the plaintiff had also made. On appeals being preferred by the plaintiff from the said orders of the Munsif, the Subordinate Judge held that as the case fell within Section 7 (iv), Cls. (c) and (d), Court-fees Act (7 of 1870), the plaintiff was entitled to put his own valuation on the suit and the Court had no jurisdiction to revise such valuation. He held also that in the circumstances of the case the plaintiff was entitled to the temporary injunction he had prayed for. He accordingly made the following order:
It is therefore ordered that the appeals be allowed. The plaint shall be returned to the appellant for filing the same in the lower Court where it will be registered as a suit, and trial thereon shall proceed, and it is ordered that the respondent defendants be forbidden from executing the decree till the disposal of the suit, which must be expedited by the plaintiff.
2. Against this order, which really consists of two orders, two applications in revision have been made to this Court. The validity of the orders complained of in these applications depends on two questions which have been formulated in the order of reference in these words: (1) Whether in suits to obtain a declaratory decree or order where consequential relief is prayed for and in suits to obtain an injunction, where the Court finds the relief claimed as undervalued, it is entitled under Order 7, Rule 11(b), Civil P. C, to require the plaintiff to correct the valuation stated by him in accordance with the provisions of Section 7, Court-fees Act. (2). Whether the case of Mt. Umatul Batul v. Nanji Koer (1907) 6 C L J 427, was correctly decided? The conflict of judicial authority that exists on question (1) aforesaid has been pointed out in the order of reference, and in it some of the more important decisions bearing upon the question have been noticed. One of these decisions in which the matter was elaborately discussed is the case of Mt. Umatul Batul v. Mt. Nanji Koer (1907) 6 C L J 427. In that case Mukerjee, J., set out in detail the history of the change made in 1891 in Section 7(iv), Court-fees Act (7 of 1870), by the Repealing and Amending Act, (11 of 1891), and on comparing the wordings of the section as it had stood when the Codes of 1859, 1877 and 1882 respectively were in force, and on an exhaustive review of the decisions then existing, adopted the view which had been previously taken by this Court in the case of Baidya Nath v. Makhan Lal (1890) 17 Cal 680 and observed thus:
In oases falling under Section 7. sub-section (iv), Court-fees Act, although the plaintiff is to state the amount at which he values the relief sought the legislature never intended that the plaintiff should be at liberty to assign any arbitrary value and thus be free to choose the Court in which he should bring his suit. The learned Judges relied upon Sections 7, 8 and 11, Suits Valuation Act (7 of 1887), as clearly indicating that this could not have been the intention of the Legislature. In our opinion, the view is unquestionably well founded and, as has been shown above, it is supported by the history of the section.
3. In my opinion, the conclusions summarized in these observations are correct and they should be affirmed. I think, therefore, that it should be held that though Order 7, Rule 11 which in its clause (b) gives the Court power in a case of undervaluation of a relief to require the plaintiff to correct the valuation given by him in his plaint and to reject the plaint in case the plaintiff fails to do so, appears in a procedural code, while nothing as to such correction is stated in the taxing statute itself namely the Court-fees Act (7 of 1870), yet the two enactments have to be read together and simultaneously given effect to when there is nothing in neither enactment expressly indicating any contrary intention. In Section 7, sub-section (4), all that is said is that the amount of fee in suits falling within that sub-section shall be computed
according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal.
and also that
in all such suits the plaintiff shall state the amount at which he values the relief sought.
4. The sub-section does not say that the fee shall be computed according to the amount at which the plaintiff values the relief in his plaint or memorandum of appeal or that the plaintiff's valuation is to be regarded as final. Indeed the provisions of Sections 7, 8 and 11 of the Suits Valuation Act (7 of 1887) would, it seems to me, militate against such a view. I am of opinion therefore that Section 7 sub-section (4), Court-fees Act (7 of 1870) should be read as controlled by Order 7, Rule 11. Clause (b) of the Code. But I am clearly of opinion that upon the existing state of things it is not always possible for the Court to exercise this power in a case falling under the sub-section. In his decision In the matter of Kali Pado Mukherjee AIR 1980 Cal 686, Rankin, C. J., while not purporting to express any decisive opinion, has made the following observations:
The provision in the Civil Procedure Code is certainly a provision which is intended to apply to cases under sub-section 4, Section 7. The present case is a very good example of the necessity of that. * * * But it is another thing altogether to say that because the words used are ' if the plaintiff's claim is undervalued ' they mean that the Court in the special class of cases where the plaintiff is allowed to put his own valuation has a right to revise the valuation. I do not think that Mukerji, J., in coming to the conclusion to which he did in Umatul's case (1907) 6 C L J 427, gave sufficient weight to the circumstance that the cases dealt with in sub-section (4) are cases where no real objective basis of valuation will in general be possible. They are cases which are not easily valued and in many cases not capable of being valued in money terms on any precise principle. It does not strike me as being at all incredible that with regard to that limited class of cases the legislature should have thought it right to give to the plaintiff a certain amount of option as to the value which has to be put upon the claim especially as I find that in certain cases the legislature has thought fit to allow people to pay a small fixed court-fee in respect of a relief claimed.
5. Kali Pado Mukherji's case AIR 1980 Cal 686 was one in which in a suit to obtain a declaration and also a consequential relief in the shape of an injunction and so falling under Section 7(4)(c) of the Act, but the plaintiff instead of valuing the suit for a single sum of his own choice had erroneously valued the suit in parts, that is to say the declaration at a certain figure as under Article 17(3), Schedule 2 and the injunction at another figure as in a suit under Section 7(4)(d) and he had put a third valuation for the purposes of jurisdiction under the Suits Valuation Act, it was held that the valuation was not in accordance with law and so it might be corrected by the Court by adopting the procedure prescribed in Order 7, Rule 11 of the Code. But I do not think it would be correct to say that the powers of the Court are confined only to such cases of undervaluation as may be illegal, palpably absurd, manifestly illogical or arithmetically wrong. The history of the legislation bearing on the question in my opinion, leaves no room for doubt that the power extends to all cases falling under the clause. I respectfully agree that in cases of suits falling within sub-section (4) of Section 7 there must be, having regard to their very nature, a certain amount of option in the plaintiff because the value of the relief he claims therein would depend not on its intrinsic value but on its value so far as he is concerned. I also agree that in many such suits no real objective standard would be possible or, even if possible, would be altogether satisfactory. But such provisions as to valuation as there already are in the Act do not also disclose any very definite principle on which they may seem to have proceeded, except presumably the principle that the standards fixed are not unreasonably high. And though it is true, that in suits of various descriptions no standard at all would be possible, yet it cannot be disputed that reasonable standards may with safety be laid down giving the plaintiff all legitimate option that he may be reasonably entitled to and proceeding on the lines indicated by the legislature in such standards as they themselves have laid down. But I am clearly of opinion that until such standards are laid down by appropriate rules framed under Section 9, Suits Valuation Act (7 of 1887), it would not be possible for the Court to exercise this power except in those classes of oases falling under the clause in which the valuation made by the plaintiff is illegal, palpably absurd, manifestly illogical or arithmetically wrong. The two Acts are linked together, as regards valuation of relief, for the purposes of jurisdiction and of court-fees payable in respect of plaints. In the decision in the case of' Panna Lal v. Abdul Gani AIR 1930 Cal 478 to which I was a party, it was said:
If the plaintiff's valuation of the relief may at times appear arbitrary'or too low, the assessment of the real value is often no less arbitrary and almost an impossibility. A plaintiff no doubt ought not to be permitted to have his relief without paying adequate court-fees, but the remedy lies not in nullifying the words of the Act but in the rule making power of the High Court conferred on it by Section 9, Suits Valuation Act. Till such rules are framed a plaintiff in a suit coming under sub-Clause (c), sub-Clause (d) of Clause 4. Section 7, Court-fees Act, may justly say that his valuation of the relief is what he has to pay for.
6. I adhere to the view, I expressed in the above observations. One other matter I desire to mention. In the decision, of this Court in the case of the Official Trustee of Bengal v. Gobardhan Guo-hait (1928) 118 I 0 857 as also in the decision of the Bombay High Court in the case of Bal Krishna Narain v. Jankibai Sitaram AIR 1920 Bom 105 the decision of the Judicial Committee in the case of Sunder Bai v. Collector of Belgaum AIR 191.8. P C 135 has been understood as meaning that in that case their Lordships of the Judicial Committee affirmed the proposition that in suits of this character plaintiffs are entitled to put their own valuation and that it is not open to the Court to revise it. On a careful perusal of their Lordships' judgment however I have come to the conclusion that the point was not before their Lordships and no decision on it was in fact passed; what appears in the report is only a recital of the facts in that case.
7. It has been argued before us on behalf of the petitioners that while in a vast majority of cases it may not be possible to say that the plaintiff's valuation is-an undervaluation, in Umatul's case (1907) 6 C L J 427 as also in the present case, the position is very different, because in both these cases the valuation appears to have been manifestly low. So far as Umatul's case (1907) 6 C L J 427 is concerned the plaintiff was seeking to set aside a decree for Rupees 10,000 in execution of which the plaintiff's property valued at Rs. 80,000 was about to be sold, and it was held that the value of the relief sought was the sum sought to be realized under the decree. Reliance for this proposition was placed upon the oases of Venkappa v. Narasimha (1887) 10 Mad 187 and Jagatdhar v. Brown (1906) 38 Cal 1183. I do not see why the valuation should necessarily be made on this basis, so long as there is nothing which makes such valuation obligatory. But assuming that what was done in that case was not unreasonable that standard can scarcely be applied to this case in which we are not aware to what extent the plaintiff will be injured if the award against him stands. There may be cases in which a decree may have been obtained for a very large amount to be executed against a very in considerable property belonging to the defendant, and if in such cases the latter institutes a suit to get rid of the decree the real value of the relief to him as plaintiff can hardly be the value of the decree. I think I am fortified in the view I take by what was said by the Judicial Committee in the case of Phul Kumari v. Ghanshyam Misser (1908) 35 Cal 202. In the case while dealing with a contention that in a suit instituted to set aside a summary decision under Section 283 of the Code of 1882, which had been put into execution, the value of the suit should be the value of the execution debt; their Lordships observed:
What they have dona is simply to take the sum in the execution decree. This is plainly a fallacious proceeding. The value of the action must mean the value to the plaintiff. But the value of the property might quite well be Rs. 1,000 while the execution debt was Rupees 10,000. It is only if the execution debt is less than the value of the property that its amount affects the value of the suit.
8. For these reasons I am of opinion that the questions should be answered thus: Q. 1. Yes. But so long as there are no Rules framed under Section 9, Suits Valuation Act (7 of 1887), the Court would have no standard before it on which it may regard the plaintiff's valuation as an undervaluation, and its powers of correction would have to be exercised on that footing. Q. 2. The case was correctly decided in so far as it laid down that it is within the power of the Court to revise the plaintiff's valuation; but the valuation made by the Court, though it may have not been unreasonable, was not a valuation made in accordance with a standard having the force of law. As the reference has been made in Civil Revision Cases, the cases under the Rules of Court, are open to us for consideration in their entirety. I am of opinion that the order made by the Subordinate Judge is correct and that the Rules therefore should be discharged with costs 3 gold mohurs, for the hearing before the Division Bench, and 5 gold mohurs, for the hearing before the Full Bench, in favour of the opposite party.
9. I agree generally with the judgment which has just been delivered by Mukerji, J., but I desire to add one or two observations. It seems to me perfectly clear that the Legislature never could have intended 'that a plaintiff should be at liberty to assign any arbitrary value he chooses to his suit and thus be free to select the Court in which that suit should be brought. Unless it is held that the Court has jurisdiction to revise the valuation, it is obvious that an unscrupulous litigant would be in a position to defraud the Government and moreover to oust the jurisdiction of a Court competent to adjudicate the matters at issue between the parties. If it were not open to the Court to revise the valuation put by the plaintiff on his suit, then obviously he would be in a position to undervalue the relief which he seeks and if he chooses to institute his suit in the lowest Court, that is to say the Court having the lowest pecuniary jurisdiction he could, in fact, either go to the lower Court in the ordinary way or to any higher Court at his own option. It is therefore, in my opinion, abundantly clear that it was intended that the Court should be in a position to exercise a certain amount of control over the valuation made by the plaintiff. At the same time however I do recognize that there are practical difficulties in the way of the Court interfering unless and until appropriate rules are made under the powers conferred by Section 9, Suits Valuation Act. In some circumstances however, and I am not at all sure whether the present case is not one of them, it would appear that the Court might not unreasonably say that the valuation given by the plaintiff is so obviously absurd that it ought to be revised. It is to be remembered that in the present proceedings the plaintiff was taking action in order to avoid the effect of a decree for no less than Rs. 11,400, yet he nevertheless valued the proceedings at the absurdly low sum of Rs. 49. I am disposed to think, in circumstances such as these, that it might be possible for the Court to assign something more nearly approaching the real value of the suit.
10. Having regard to the unsatisfactory position which, in my opinion, exists in matters of this kind and having regard to the necessity for the framing of some kind of rules which will serve as a criterion of valuing the suits, it seems to be highly desirable that the attention of the Legislature should be called to this matter and the Legislature ought to declare what they really intended to be done in cases such as the present. Although I am of opinion that in this particular case it might be possible for the Court to put a more accurate value on the plaintiff's proceedings, I do not propose to dissent from the view expressed by Mukerji, J.
11. I agree with my learned brother Mukerji, J., in the judgment delivered by him for the reasons given therein.
12. I agree with the view which has been adopted by my learned brother Costello, J., that as a general rule the Court is entitled to correct the valuation under Order 7, Rule 11, Civil P. C. There may be cases in which the valuation is perfectly obvious on the face of it and in that case in would be open to the Court to correct a clearly wrong valuation even before the framing of the rules. Otherwise until rules are framed under Section 9, Suits Valuation Act, the Court would be in a practical difficulty and unable to take necessary action.
S. K. Ghose, J.
13. I agree with my learned brother Mukerji, J.