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Kanaklata Dasi and ors. Vs. Ram Gopal Das Naskar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1941Cal509
AppellantKanaklata Dasi and ors.
RespondentRam Gopal Das Naskar and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....court-fees in the suit on a total valuation of rs. 36,975. as regards the prayer for accounts, the learned judge accepted the tentative valuation as given by the plaintiffs.3. on behalf of the plaintiffs it has been argued that the whole basis of valuation adopted by the learned judge was wrong. we may say at once that so far as the injunction is concerned, we are satisfied that he has taken a substantially correct view. this clearly comes under clause (d) of para. (iv) of section 7, court-fees act, and it was certainly open to the learned judge to revise the valuation of this relief under section 8c. there is nothing to show that in doing so he applied a wrong principle or a wrong objective standard such as would call for our interference. the matter, however, stands on a different.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This is a rule directed against an order of the learned Subordinate Judge of Alipore by which he has called upon the plaintiffs to pay additional court-fees on a valuation of Rs. 36,975. The suit was instituted on 6th February 1939, by three family deities, collectively designated as plaintiff 1, and three other persons, plaintiffs 2 to 4, being the widow and two sons of one Heramba Gopal. These three persons claimed to be the shebaits of the idols and to represent them in the suit. The defendants were two brothers of Heramba. The plaintiffs' ease is that one Ganesh Das Naskar had a son Kshetra Mohan who had pre-deceased him, leaving the two defendants and Heramba as his only sons and heirs. Ganesh and these three grandsons jointly executed an arpanama in favour of the family idols, whereby the three grandsons were appointed shebaits and each of them as shebait was given a remuneration at the rate of Rs. 1000 per annum. After Heramba's death, according to the plaintiffs, the shebaitship in his branch devolved upon plaintiffs 2, 3 and i. It was alleged that the defendants were guilty of mismanagement and misappropriation, and had thereby rendered themselves unfit to continue as shebaits. There was a further allegation that the defendants were claiming title to certain properties which had really been purchased with the debutter funds in denial of the right of the idols. These properties were separately described in schedule kha of the plaint, schedule ka containing a list of admittedly debutter properties. The plaint contained as many as twelve prayers, but in substance the reliefs asked for were : (1) a declaration that the properties in schedules ka and kha belong to the idols, (2) a further declaration that the plaintiffs are shebaits under the law, (3) removal of the defendants from shebaitship, (4) the framing of a scheme of management, (5) an injunction against the defendants restraining them from dealing with the properties in schedule kha as secular properties, and (6) accounts.

2. The plaintiffs valued the claim for accounts tentatively at Rs. 100, and the remaining reliefs at Rs. 2000, presumably treating the case as one under Section 7, para. (iv), Court-fees Act. On an objection taken by the defendants regarding the sufficiency of the court-fees, a preliminary issue was raised, and it is the decision of the learned Subordinate Judge on this issue which is the subject-matter of the present application. The learned Subordinate Judge held that the declaration of shebaiti right as prayed for by plaintiffs 2 to i entitled them to an allowance of Rs. 1000 per annum on the basis of the arpannama, and that in that view, court-fees were payable ad valorem in respect of this prayer on ten times the amount of this annuity. As regards the prayer for removal of the defendants from shebaitship, the learned Subordinate Judge said that as this would result in the deities being benefited yearly to the extent of Rs. 2000, the plaintiffs should also pay court fees on ten times this amount. Dealing with the prayer for injunction, he held that the relief claimed under this head should be valued at Rs. 6975 according to the valuation of the properties in schedule kha on the basis of net profits as found by him on evidence. In the result, the plaintiffs were directed to pay ad valorem court-fees in the suit on a total valuation of Rs. 36,975. As regards the prayer for accounts, the learned Judge accepted the tentative valuation as given by the plaintiffs.

3. On behalf of the plaintiffs it has been argued that the whole basis of valuation adopted by the learned Judge was wrong. We may say at once that so far as the injunction is concerned, we are satisfied that he has taken a substantially correct view. This clearly comes under clause (d) of para. (iv) of Section 7, Court-fees Act, and it was certainly open to the learned Judge to revise the valuation of this relief under Section 8C. There is nothing to show that in doing so he applied a wrong principle or a wrong objective standard such as would call for our interference. The matter, however, stands on a different footing as regards the other reliefs asked for. Mr. Das on behalf of the opposite party contended that the learned Judge dealt with these prayers also in the same way, treating the case as one under el. (c) of para. (iv) of Section 7, and that he was therefore similarly entitled to value the relief as he thought proper. Mr. Das sought to imply thereby that the question being one of pure valuation, this Court was not competent to interfere in revision. It becomes necessary, therefore, to examine this matter. It might no doubt be contended with some show of reason that, in regard to these reliefs, the learned Judge did not mean to proceed on the basis suggested by Mr. Das. The fact that he called for court-fees on ten times the amount of the annuities which were payable to the shebaits under the terms of the arpannama could perhaps be relied upon to support a suggestion that he dealt with the matter under para. (ii) of Section 7, as if this was a suit to recover the annuities payable under the arpannama, and that the question would, therefore, not be one of valuation, but of classification, that is to say, of the category under which the suit fell. In our opinion, however, the suit was really one for a declaration with a prayer for consequential relief, coming under el. (c) of para. (iv) of Section 7, the declaration asked for being that the properties mentioned in the plaint were debutter and that the plaintiffs were shebaits. It was, therefore, open to the plaintiffs to put their own valuation, but such valuation would be subject to revision by the Court under the provisions of Section 8C. We agree with Mr. Das that this was the view accepted by the learned Judge, but we consider that while dealing with the case as one under el. (c) of para. (iv) of Section 7, he applied a wrong standard in determining the correct valuation under Section 8C, namely, the standard laid down in para. (ii) of Section 7, which is applicable to a different class of suits altogether, i. e., suits for maintenance and annuities and other periodical payments. It is this circumstance which in our opinion would attract the revisional jurisdiction of this Court under Section 115, Civil P.C.

4. Quite clearly, on a question of valuation, pure and simple, there is no appeal, as Section 12 in terms declares the order of the trial Court on such a question to be final as between the parties to the suit. Only a limited right of challenge against such order is given by Sub-section (ii) of Section 12, in so far as it provides that if and when the suit comes before a Court of appeal, reference or revision, such Court may revise the order, which means that it may do so only if it considers that the question has been wrongly decided to the detriment of the revenue: that is to say, if in the opinion of such Court a lower court-fee has been paid, the matter being treated not so much as one between the parties to the suit, as between the Crown on the one hand and the party required to pay the court-fee on the other. As between the parties, the order is declared to be 'final'. Mr. Das suggests that the word 'final' should be held not only to shut out an appeal, but also to exclude revision. We think, however, that the very fact that the right of appeal is taken away is sufficient ground for holding that the powers of revision of this Court are open, though, no doubt such powers should be exercised only in a proper case, where to deny revision would be to deny a remedy to an aggrieved party altogether. It cannot be that the Legislature intended that in every case of valuation, apart from Sub-section (ii), the order of the trial Court should be final, even where it was shown that the order was manifestly wrong either because it was contrary to accepted principles of valuation or because of a wrong approach to the question. There are no doubt cases where in spite of there being an appeal, this High Court has interfered on the ground that the remedy by way of appeal would be much too cumbrous, but for our present purposes we need not consider that question. It is enough for us to hold that where the only question is one of valuation, and not one relating to classification, an appeal being excluded under Section 12 (i), the remedy of revision is open, though, as already stated, the revisional power should be exercised only in a proper case.

5. From this point of view, on Mr. Das' own contention, which we accept, the order of the learned Subordinate Judge is in our opinion subject to revision under Section 115, Civil P.C., in so far as it sought to revise the valuation given by the plaintiffs of the relief claimed. We may add that if we accepted the contrary contention, and held that the learned Subordinate Judge had in fact assessed the court-fees under para. (ii) of Section 7, so that the order could be treated as involving a question of classification and not of valuation, the order would of course be open to challenge in appeal. Strictly speaking, even on this basis, revision might not be excluded, seeing that the order itself would not be appealable, but could be attacked only on appeal against the final decision in the suit, if the plaintiff paid the court-fees and allowed the suit to proceed, or if he failed to pay the same, against the order or decree dismissing the suit on that ground under Sub-section (3) of Section 8B, Court-fees Act. It is not necessary, however, for the purpose of the present case to express any opinion on this point in the view we take that the matter is to be treated as one of valuation only.

6. In so far as the suit is one under Clause (c) of para. (iv) the relief sought is a declaration coupled with consequential relief and we do not think it would be right to detach the declaration from the consequential relief and value them separately. The declaration asked for here is as regards the character of the properties in suit, and the status of the plaintiffs as shebaits and this is a relief which taken by itself cannot be estimated at a money value, but admits of such valuation only if it is coupled with the consequential relief prayed for. The consequential relief here is the framing of a scheme of management, and also the injunction, though the latter may be regarded as an independent relief by itself. The plaintiffs had put their own valuation on the declaration and the consequential relief at Rs. 2400, but as the learned Judge has found the injunction alone should be valued at Rs. 6975, and as there is no objective standard by which the other part of the relief, namely the framing of a scheme, can be valued, we think the total valuation of the suit under Clause (c) of para. (iv) should be raised from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 6975. In addition to this, the plaintiffs must pay a fixed fee of Rs. 15 on the prayer for removal of the defendants from shebaitship, and as for the prayer for accounts they will pay ad valorem on their own tentative valuation of Rs. 100 as directed by the learned Subordinate Judge. The order of the learned Subordinate Judge will be modified accordingly. The rule is thus made absolute in part. We make no order as to costs.


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