1. In this case, Nirode Kamini Debya, the opposite party in the present proceedings, applied for Letters of Admi-Eistration of the property of her deceased husband to the Munsif of Maldah who was the Delegate for the purpose of granting such Letters under the Probate and Administration Act. It is admitted that the gross value of the estate was Rs. 1,985, and that the liabilities amounted to Rs. 1,009, giving a net value of Rs. 976. The Delegate held that as the net value did not exceed Rs. 1,000, no Court-fee was payable. On a review, he refused to set this order aside, and a Rule has been granted to show cause why it should not be set aside.
2. A preliminary objection has been taken that we have no jurisdiction to interfere either under Section 115 of the Code or under Section 15 of the Charter. After hearing arguments on the point, we hold that we have jurisdiction to interfere under the latter enactment.
3. The contention of the petitioner is that Court-fees are payable on the net value of the estate in respect of which Probate or Letters of Administration are asked for, and that no deduction is to be made if that value is below one thousand rupees, The opposite party-contends that the decision of the Munsif is correct.
4. The question is purely one of the construction of the Court Fees Act of 1870. Section 6 of that Act is the provision by which, except in the case of High Courts, the fees specified in the Act are made payable. By Section 19K, however, that section does not apply to grants of Probates and Letters of Administration, but fees are made payable on them by Section 19 I, which is as follows: ' No order, entitling the petitioner to the grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, shall be made upon an application for such grant until the petitioner has filed in the Court a valuation of the property in the form set forth in the third Schedule, and the Court is satisfied that the fee mentioned in No. 11 of the first Schedule has been paid on such valuation.' Now, without labouring the point, it is safe to say that the valuation arrived at by following the form set out in the third Schedule is a valuation of the net value of the property and that the fee mentioned in No. 11 of the first Schedule is a fee calculated on gross value, being two per cent. on the amount or value of the property in respect of which the grant or Probate is made,' which is unmistakeably a description of gross and not net value. But the fee mentioned in No. 11 is to be paid on the valuation mentioned in Schedule III, and we have no hesitation in reading this as providing that two per cent. is to be paid on the net value of the property. Then the question arises what is to happen in such a case as the present, where the gross value is above, and the net value is below-one thousand rupees. The Act contains two provisions in favour of properties below this limit. These are Section 19 (viii) and No. 11 of the first Schedule, which are couched in similar terms, and exempt from liability to fees Probate or Letters where the amount or value of the property in respect of which the grant is made does not exceed one thousand rupees. But we have already said that these terms in No. 11 indicate gross value. Therefore, the exemption provided by these enactments applies only in cases where the gross value of the property does not exceed one thousand rupees.
5. It follows that the Munsif in this case was wrong in holding that a fee was not payable, as it was payable, though on the net value.
6. We may add that Section 19B has no application to the present case, as it merely enables the Chief Controlling Revenue authority of the Province, in this case the Board of Revenue, to give relief in certain cases, which is an act of the Executive authority with which the Munsif was not concerned. It is to be observed that Section 19B was added to the Act as it originally stood by Act XIII of 1875, and Sections 19I and 19 K and Schedule III by Act XI of 1899.
7. As the original order of the Munsif is wrong, this Rule must be made absolute and the order is set aside.
8. It is not, however, necessary, that we should make any farther order in the case. We make no order as to costs.