1. There seems to have been misconception in this case on the part of all parties. The plaintiffs brought a suit in which they prayed for a large variety of reliefs, the chief of which, are construction of a will, declaration of their title to certain movable and immovable properties, partition of the said properties, accounts and appointment of a receiver, pending the final determination of the suit. The above is only a broad summary of the large multitude of reliefs which have been crowded into the prayer portion of the plaint, but they give a fairly accurate idea of the lines along which the plaintiffs desired the Court to relieve them. The suit was valued for the purpose of jurisdiction at Rs. 55173-3-9 but for the purposes of court-fees the plaintiffs adopted a method which one thought was no longer surviving. They took the reliefs on construction of the will, declaration, accounts and the appointment of a receiver separately, valued each relief at Rs. 500/- and paid a sum of Rs. 187-8-0 upon the total amount of Rs. 2000/-which, according to them, was the total value of the four reliefs. In addition they also paid the fixed court-fee of Rs. 15/- for the relief of partition. We are informed that certain further small amounts were subsequently paid -- one such amount having been for the relief of the removal of the receiver which is said to have been subsequently added.
2. It was objected on behalf of defendant 3 that the method according to which the court-fee had been computed was not correct and that the plaintiffs were not entitled to pay a lump sum as court-fees on the total of the four amounts at which they had separately valued the four reliefs. It does not seem to have been contended that the value of Rs. 500/- put on each relief was inadequate, but what appears to have been contended was that each of the reliefs prayed for was a distinct relief, asked for on the basis of a distinct cause of action, within the meaning of Section 17, Court-fees Act, and accordingly the court-fee was to be calculated distributi'vely. The learned Judge below has overruled that contention. He has held, as appears to have been admitted before him, that the suit was governed by Section 7, Clause (iv) (c), Court-fees Act and that court-fee had been rightly paid in a single sum on the total amount of the values of the several reliefs claimed. It was against that decision that defendant 3 obtained the present Rule.
3. The Rule was issued only on a limited ground, and that ground is that court-fees should have been paid separately on the several items and not on the total amount of Rs. 2000/-. It was at one stage conceded by the learned Advocate for the petitioner that the learned Judge was right in holding that the suit was governed by Section 7, Clause (iv) (c), Court-fees Act and what he tried to suggest on the basis of that concession was that the sum of Rs. 2000/- was not an adequate valuation of the principal and the consequential reliefs claimed and that, therefore, there ought to have been an enquiry under Section 8(c), Court-fees Act. Later on, however, the learned Advocate reverted to the ground upon which the Rule had been issued and contended that court-fee could not be paid on the total of the values of the several reliefs as had been done. Reliance was placed on Section 17.
4. It is impossible to see how, once it is admitted that the suit is governed by Section 7(iv)(c), Court-fees Act, any question of any distributive valuation of the several reliefs can arise. It is true that, at one time, that method of valuation was quite common & an instance is to be found in the case of -- 'Rupchand Ghosh v. Sm. Kshirodamoyi Dasi', AIR 1923 Gal 329 (A) to which the learned Judge has referred. But the incorrectness of so valuing a suit falling under Section 7(iv)(c), Court-fees Act was pointed out by Sir George Rankin in --'In re Kalipada Mukherji' : AIR1930Cal686 . The learned Chief Justice observed that he had noticed decisions which seemed to mean that so much was to be put down for declaration and so much for each consequential relief prayed for, but that his Lordship observed, was a plain perversion of the Act. He also pointed out that if a case came under Section 7(iv)(c) it was clearly outside the provisions of Section 17 which dealt with cumulative fees and that the only question in a case under Section 7(iv)(c) was that the true valuation would be of the entire relief claimed. This view is clearly in accord with the plain language of Section 7(iv)(c) of the Act which lays down that in suits to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief is prayed for, court-fee is to be paid according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum of appeal. Obviously, what the section contemplates is a single or a composite relief made up of the declaration and whatever ancillary aids may be prayed for and not so many separate reliefs which have to be valued separately. The further reliefs, being consequential, are not distinct or separate reliefs and, therefore an unitary and not a distributive method of computing the court-fee is clearly indicated. It appears to me that once it is conceded, as appears to have been conceded before the learned Judge, that Section 7(iv)(c) governs the suit, the question of separate or a consolidated valuation was immediately at an end.
5. The question, however remains: is the whole suit governed by Section 7(iv)(c), Court-fees Act at all? I am of opinion that the answer must be in the negative. It is true that the main prayer is one for partition for which a specific fee has been prescribed in the Court-fees Act. It is also true that so far as the declarations prayed for are concerned, certain of the other reliefs prayed for may be combined with them so as to make up a prayer for a declaration or declarations and consequential reliefs. So much of the suit will certainly come under Section 7(iv)(c), but so far at least this Court is concerned, a suit for partition and accounts have not been treated as a suit governed by Section 7(iv)(c) and the prayer for accounts has not been treated as a prayer for a relief consequential to declaration of title and partition. It has always been treated as a separate item or count among the reliefs and if that be so, the present suit seems to come in part under Section 7(iv)(c), in part under the provision dealing specifically with partition suits and in part under Section 7(iv)(f) so far as the prayer for accounts is concerned. Of these three suits or rather three parts, of the suit, the partition part presents no difficulty. inasmuch as there is the fixed court-fee prescribed: for it. So far as the accounts portion is concerned, the usual practice is to put a tentative valuation upon the relief with an offer to pay further court-fees, if, upon the accounts being taken a sum larger than the amount at which the prayer is tentatively valued is ultimately found due for the plaintiff.
In the present case, such a tentative valuation has been put and the figure is Rs. 500/-. There remains only that part of the suit which comes under Section 7(iv)(c) and so far as that part is concerned the plaintiff is entitled to put his own valuation, subject, however, to revision by the Court under the new provision of Section 8C. The latter section cannot be brought under requisition to any useful, purpose, unless there be some objective standard taut in the present case we can see none. The right claimed by the plaintiffs does not seem to have been denied and the grievance is limited to the postponement of their right to possession of the properties which they claim. This disadvantage is clearly not payable of being valued in money and consequently it is not practicable to revise the valuation at which the plaintiffs, may themselves value it.
It has to be borne in mind, however, that the plaintiffs have not valued the suit on the basis which I have pointed out to be the correct basis, and before the suit proceeds further, they will have to put a valuation in the correct manner. The learned Judge has proceeded on the basis that the sum-total of the separate values of the several reliefs is the sum to be treated as the value of the suit for the purposes of Section 7(iv)(c), but in that he is clearly wrong for reasons I have already stated. On being questioned by us, the learned Advocate for the plaintiffs stated that he was prepared to put the same valuation of Rs. 2000/- on that part of the suit which fell under Section 7(iv)(c) and to that valuation the learned Advocate for the petitioner did not object. That being so, the position which ultimately emerges is that the plaintiffs are liable to pay ad valorem court-fees on the valuation put by them or going to be put on that part of the suit which comes under Section 7(iv)(c); in addition they are liable to pay tentatively ad valorem court-fees on the amount at which they have tentatively valued the prayer for accounts; & lastly they have to pay the fixed court-fees for the relief of partition. The three amounts so payable' by them make up a sum of Rs. 258-12-0 which, in my view, is the true revenue liability of the plaintiffs on the plaint, truly construed.
6. We are unable to obtain accurate information as to the exact amount which the plaintiffs have paid, but it is clear that what they have paid is less than Rs. 258-12-0. They will therefore be liable to pay the difference between Rs. 258-12-0 and the sum which they have already paid. They will also have to amend their plaint, for which we give them leave, so as to put a valuation of Rs. 2000/- on that part of the suit which is governed by Section 7(iv)(c), Court-fees Act.
7. In the result the rule is made absolute, theorder passed by the learned judge is set asideand we direct that the plaintiffs do pay on theplaint a sum of Rs. 258-12-0 as court-fees andthat they make a further payment of an amountequivalent to the difference between the said sumof Rs. 258-12-0 and such sum as they have alreadypaid. They are also directed to amend the plaintin the way indicated by me which must be donewithin three weeks of the arrival of the recordIn the Court below.
8. In view of the fact that this is a revenue matter, we do not make any order as to costs.
9. Let the counter-affidavit filed by opposite party 4 be kept on the record.
10. I agree.