KUNJU MOHAMMED KUNJU Vs. KUNJU AUWA UMMAL
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
KUNJU MOHAMMED KUNJU
KUNJU AUWA UMMAL
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(1.) THE question raised in this revision petition is as to the correct jurisdictional value for the suit upon which depends the forum in which the action should be instituted. THE suit itself was filed early in 1963 and full 5 years have run and the parties find themselves still engaged in the battle of jurisdiction. It is unfortunate that even simple suits for partition should lengthen themselves into periods of big projects shaking the confidence of the people in quick justice. I dare say the Court and the parties in this case will get ready to get on with the suit so that the adjudication may be over without further dilatory tactics. It does injury to both and to public interest to have litigation lengthened beyond limits, a circumstance which the learned munsiff will take note of when this case is next posted for hearing.
(2.) THE only plea that has been pressed before me on behalf of petitioner is that the computation of the market value for purposes of jurisdiction under S. 53 (2) of the Kerala Court Fees and Suits Valuation has been wrongly done on the basis of multiplying the profits from the immovable property which is the subject matter of the partition suit. THE learned Munsiff ought to have taken the prevailing price as the surer guide, according to the petitioner. THE first round of fight between the parties on the same question ended in C. R. P. No. 1266 of 1965 where his Lordship Krishnamoorthy Iyer J. set aside the order of the learned Munsiff because the Court had proceeded on the footing that S. 1 (2) of the Act would apply in ascertaining the market value. Clearly this is wrong and therefore the multiple of ten indicated in S. 7 (2)cannot fetter the Court in ascertaining the market value His Lordship, however, pointed out that although S. 7 (2) of the Act was not applicable and, therefore, the market value of the subject matter for jurisdictional purposes could not be confined to ten times of the gross profit of the property it did not mean that the method of multiplying the gross profit to arrive at the market value should be abandoned in favour of the other alternative, viz. , prices fetched for similar lands in the locality. "by market value is meant the value which the property would fetch in the open market irrespective of any limitation to which it may be subject THE market value is the price that the property will fetch in open market under the state of things available on the date of plaint In cases where the land is capable of yielding annual profit, the court is bound to fix the market value, for ascertaining the market value of the subject-matter for payment of court fee, by capitalising the gross profit at ten times. That is not the position in a case coming under S. 53 clause (2) of the Act for fixing the market value for jurisdictional purposes. It is open to the court to fix the market value by adopting the prevailing price of property or by capitalising the gross profits. " His Lordship goes further to remove any obsession in the mind of the lower Court against adoption of the multiple method by stating: "the fixation of market value of a property capable of yielding profits by capitalising the annual gross profits, is not excluded for determining the jurisdictional value in a case falling under S. 37 (2)because of S. 7 (2) of Act 10 of 1960. But there is no hard and fast rule regarding the multiple to be adopted for purposes of capitalisation. This will depend upon ever so many factors. " THE learned Munsiff thought that since there was no hard and fast rule regarding the multiple to be adopted he should seek judicial guidance in that matter. Light is thrown on this aspect of the question by the ruling reported in State of Madras v. Aissabi (1957 KLT. 1076) wherein a division Bench of the Kerala High Court has suggested that, "while a multiple based on the current rate of interest on gilt edged securities might be adopted in the case of landed property in a town, a multiple of 20 would be a safer basis for arriving at the market value of purely agricultural land". In a town the potential value based upon commercial possibilities will enter the reckoning while in the countryside all that can be looked for from land is agricultural income. Multiplication of the income may be a safer method in villages although it may not hold good in all cases, particularly in a society where agricultural land is rapidly becoming urban land. So far as this case is concerned, it is clear that the land is in the rural parts of Varkala and, what is more, only 10 cents yield agricultural income, the rest being water-logged area suitable only for soaking husks. May be that in certain situations soaking of husks may fetch a better income. But the commissioner in this case has given his report as regards the income of the property. This has not been contradicted by any positive evidence in the case and the lower Court has chosen to act on it. THE learned Munsiff has taken a multiple of 20 which certainly cannot be called unreasonable or perverse. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for me to interfere in revision and state that there has been illegality or material irregularity in the exercise of jurisdiction by the Munsiff. Even assuming that he should have taken due note of the prevailing prices in the locality it is only an error Which does not impinge upon jurisdiction. THErefore, the revisional jurisdiction under S. 115 c. P. C. stands repelled. THEre is really an interesting question which arises in cases under S. 53 (2) of Kerala Court-Fees and Suits Valuation Act. THE Section merely says that the value for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of courts shall be the market value; of what is not made clear. It can be the market value of the relief claimed or of the property to which the relief relates. If it is the market value of the relief claimed, there is considerable doubt as to whether the relief of partition claimed by a member who is already in joint possession is one which can be estimated at a money value at all. THEre is authority for the proposition that all that is demanded by a plaintiff in joint possession of joint property when he seeks partition is the convenience of converting joint enjoyment into separate enjoyment. Such a convenience cannot be estimated in terms of money and perhaps S. 53 (2) may itself bear the construction that in those cases the plaintiff is free to estimate the jurisdictional value as he likes. That question, however, does not arise for decision in the present case because, even on the footing that the market value of the property must be the basis for computation of jurisdictional value, the plaintiff can reasonably come with his suit in the munsiffs Court as I have already indicated. THE revision petition, therefore, has to be dismissed, but the learned Munsiff will take up the case for trial without further stumbling blocks in the progress of the suit being created by either party, taking advantage of the tardiness in trying the case by the court. No costs.;
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