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Tarai Tea Co. Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Life Insurance Corporation of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberA.F.O.O. No. 170 of 1976
Judge
Reported inAIR1979Cal84,82CWN1115
ActsWest Bengal Court-fees Act, 1970 - Sections 7 and 11
AppellantTarai Tea Co. Pvt. Ltd.
RespondentLife Insurance Corporation of India and ors.
Appellant AdvocateB.C. Dutt, ;S.K. Ghose and ;G.R. Saha, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateAshim Ghose, Adv. (for No. 1), ;R.C. Deb, ;Anindya Mitra and ;Pratap Chatterjee, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases Referred(Tarai Tea Co. Private. Ltd. v. Life Insurance Corporation of India
Excerpt:
- .....for exercise of powers under section 11 one has to consider the provisions of section 9 of the suits valuation act, 1887. this section provides:'9. determination of value of certain suits by high court.-- when the subject-matter of suits of any class other than suits mentioned in the court-fees act, 1870 x x x x section 7, paras, (v) and (vi) and para (x), clause (d) is such that in the opinion of the high court it does not admit of being satisfactorily valued, the high court may, with the previous sanction of the state government, direct that suits of that class shall, for the purposes of the court-fees act, 1870 and of this act or any other enactment for the time being in force, be treated as if their subject-matter were of such value as the high court thinks fit to specify in this.....
Judgment:

Sankar Prasad Mitha, C.J.

1. This appeal is directed against an order of Sabyasa-chi Mukharji, J. dated the 17th March, 1978. By this order the learned trial Judge held that the plaintiff in the suit was liable to pay the court-fees for the sum of Rs- 10,000/-within a specified time. In defaut, the suit was to stand dismissed with costs. It appears that Sm. Maitroyi Mishra the defendant No. 7 in the suit had made an application, inter alia, for an order that court-fees payable by the plaintiff be assessed at Rs. 10,000/-and the plaintiff be directed to pay the deficit court-fees of Rs. 9,991-75 within a week and in default, the suit be dismissed with costs. There was also a prayer for taking the plaint off the file. The learned trial Judge had decided the question of court-fees but with regard to the other prayers, he has said that the applicant would be at liberty to urge and take the points involved at the hearing of the suit.

2. In this appeal, therefore, we are primarily concerned with court-fees. There is a cross-objection with respect, inter alia to the prayer for taking the plaint off the file but we do not propose to make any order on the cross-objection for reasons to be hereinafter stated.

3. On the question of court-fees we have to consider certain provisions of the West Bengal Court-fees Act, 1970 which was enacted to amend and consolidate the law relating to court-fees in the State of West Bengal. Section 7(iv)(b) of this Act runs thus ;

'Section 7. Computation of fees payable in certain suits:

The amount of fee payable under this Act in the suits next hereinafter mentioned shall be computed as follows :

(iv) In suits-

(b) for declaratory decree and consequential relief-

to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief is prayed,

according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal subject to the provisions of Section 11.

4. This brings us to Section 11 of the Act. It prescribes :

'11. Inquiry as to valuation of suits: If the Court is of opinion that the subject-matter of any suit has been wrongly valued, it may revise the valuation and determine the correct valuation and may hold such inquiry as it thinks fit for such purpose.'

5. Under the Court-fees Act, 1870, Section 7(iv)(b) of the West Bengal Court-tees Act, 1970 was Section 7(iv)(c) and Section 11 quoted above was Section 8-C.

6. Mr. B. C. Dutt, learned Counsel appearing for the appellant has urged before us the following points:

(1) Where a suit is for a declaration and consequential relief, the plaintiff is entitled to state the amount at which he values the relief sought;

(2) The plaintiffs valuation of his own suit cannot be disputed in or set aside by Court unless there is a clear objective standard as regards the valuation of the relief claimed in the suit and

(3) The valuation of the reliefs is not synonymous with the valuation of the property or the subject-matter of the suit and the determination of the objective standard must relate to the valuation of the reliefs and not the value of the property or the subject-matter of the suit.

(4) The Court has power in appropriate eases to interfere with the plaintiff's valuation where the Court is of the view that the valuation of the reliefs sought in the plaint is manifestly absurd, illogical or arithmetically wrong.

(5) The reliefs claimed in the present suit are not capable of being valued on the basis of any objective standard in view of the fact that the plaintiff's claim for declaration, in respect of certain shares which is the subject-matter of the suit, cannot be valued on the basis of value of the shares.

7. Mr. B. C. Dutt has relied on several decisions of this Court reported in AIR 1934 Cal 448 (FB), (Narayangunj Central Co-operative Sale and Supply Society Ltd. v. Mafizu-ddin Ahmed); (1957) 61 Cal WN 518, (Manindra Mohan Banerjee v. Nirmal Kumar Banerjee); (1966) 70 Cal WN 857 (Amritlal Chatterjee v. Hiralal Chatterjee) and (1966) 70 Cal WN 1137, (Mustafa Shah v. Dhanu Shah). He has also relied on a decision of the Madras High Court reported in AIR 1956 Mad 179 (In re: Thirupathiammal). From the principles discussed in the cases which Mr. Dutt has cited, it appears that in a suit to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief is prayed for, the plaintiff has to state the amount at which he values the relief sought. Court-fees are paid on the value so stated by the plaintiff under the provisions of law we have already refer red to. But under Section 11 of the West Bengal Court-fees Act, 1970 if the Court is of opinion that the subject-matter of any suit has been wrongly valued, it may revise the valuation and determine the correct valuation. For the purpose of determining the correct valuation, the Court may hold such enquiry as it thinks fit.

8. The trend of judicial decisions suggests that when the plaintiff in a suit to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief is prayed, has stated the amount at which he values the reilef, the Court ordinarily does not interfere with the plaintiffs determination unless the court is inclined to exercise its powers under Section 11.

9. For exercise of powers under Section 11 one has to consider the provisions of Section 9 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887. This section provides:

'9. Determination of value of certain suits by High Court.-- When the subject-matter of suits of any class other than suits mentioned in the Court-fees Act, 1870 x x x x Section 7, Paras, (v) and (vi) and para (x), Clause (d) is such that in the opinion of the High Court it does not admit of being satisfactorily valued, the High Court may, with the previous sanction of the State Government, direct that suits of that class shall, for the purposes of the Court-fees Act, 1870 and of this Act or any other enactment for the time being in force, be treated as if their subject-matter were of such value as the High Court thinks fit to specify in this behalf.'

10. No rules under Section 9 of the aforesaid Act had been framed before the West Bengal Court-fees Act, 1970 came into operation. Even now, there are no such rules- The abseace of these rules which would lay down the guideline was taken note of by a Full Bench of this Court in Narayangunj Co-operative Society's case reported in AIR 1934 Cal 448 which Mr. Dutt has referred to. At page 450 Mukharji J., speaking for the majority of the Full Bench has said:

'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 cases 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. x x x'.

11. By 'the two Acts' Mukharji J. was referring to the Court-fees Act of 1870 and the Suits Valaution Act of 1887.

12- The principles which the Full Bench enunciated in the above cited case are applicable to the case before us. It would not be proper for us to disturb the plaintiff's valuation of the relief sought unless we are of opinion that that valuation is illegal, palpably absurd, manifestly illogical or arithmetically wrong.

13. In these circumstances, we have to examine the plaint itself to test the correctness of lie decision of the learned Trial Judge. The plaintiff's allegation is that it entered into an agreement with the Life Insurance Corporation of India for purchase of 14,960 fully paid-up equity shares of New Tea Co. Ltd., of the face value of Rs. 60/- each at the rate of Rs. 150/- per share. The Life Insurance Corporation of India in breach of that agreement has sold the shares to other parties who were made defendants in the suit. In the relief sought by the plaintiff we find that in Clause (a) of the prayers in the plaint, the plaintiff has asked for a declaration that the property in the 14,960 equity shares of New Tea Co. Ltd., registered in the name of the defendant No. 1, that is; the Life Insurance Corporation of India, has passed to the plaintiff. In Clause (b) (ii) the plaintiff has asked for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants and/or agents from taking any steps to transfer and/ or register the said shares in the name of any person other than the plaintiff. In Clause (b) (iii) the plaintiff has asked for a 'mandatory injunction directing the defendants to re-deliver the said shares to the plaintiff'.

14. The cases which Mr. Dutt has cited indicate that the Court shall not interfere with the plaintiff's valuation of the relief sought unless there are objective standards by which the Court can reach its conclusion that the valuation cannot be supported on the basis of principles laid down by the Full Bench.

13. In the instant case we find that the plaintiff alleges that it agreed to purchase 14,960 shares at the rate of Rs. 150/- per share- In other words, the value of the shares was over Rs. 22 lakhs. In the relief sought the plaintiff has asked for a declaration that the property in the shares has passed to the plaintiff. The plaintiff has also asked for a mandatory injunction directing the defendants to re-deliver the shares to the plaintiff. In other words, however dexterously the plaint may have been drafted, the relief that the plaintiff wants is the relief of declaration of ownership coupled with possession of the shares alleged to have been purchased by it. On these averments the value of the relief sought appears to us to be above Rs. 22 lakhs. And the minimum court-fees that the plaintiff has to pay, according to Sch. I to the West Bengal Court-fees Act, 1970, is Rs. 10,000/-.

16. The learned Trial Judge has not been pleased to give any reasons for His Lordship's judgment. His Lordship has directed the plaintiff to pay the balance of the court-fees within a specified time. In default, his Lordship has directed as we have said, that the suit shall stand dismissed with costs.

17. We agree with the learned Trial Judge's directions aforesaid. The appeal, therefore, is dismissed with costs. We direct the plaintiff to pay the balance of the Court-fees within one week from date. In default, the suit shall stand dismissed with costs.

18. The defendant No. 7, Smt. Maitroyi Mishra, in her petition affirmed by her affidavit dated the 18th February 1976 had also prayed in the alternative that the plaint filed in Suit No. 599 of 1975 (Tarai Tea Co. Private. Ltd. v. Life Insurance Corporation of India) be rejected and/or taken off the file. The learned Trial Judge has not dealt with this alternative prayer or any other prayer in the petition and has given liberty to Sm. Maitroyi Mishra to urge the same at the hearing of the suit. Until the court-fees are paid as directed by us there is no proper suit on record to be entertained by this Court. If court-fees are paid in accordance with our direction Sm. Maitroyi Mishra would be at liberty to proceed with her application before the learned Trial Court with respect to the other prayers in her petition. We, therefore, make, as already stated, no order on the cross-objection. And no order as to its costs.

19. The plaintiff's Advocate on record for the purpose of payment of court-fees as directed by this order may encash the fixed deposit lying as security in the bank. If the court-fees are not paid within a week from date, the plaintiff's Advocate on record would be at liberty to refund the money held by him for purposes of court-fees to the plaintiff.

S.K. Datta, J.

20. I agree.


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