KALU PARVATHI Vs. G. KRISHNAN NAIR, NEDUMANGAD
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
G. Krishnan Nair, Nedumangad
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(1.) The interrelation between the valuation for purposes of court fee and that for purposes of jurisdiction is regulated by statute and the present revision petition highlights the possible dispute that might arise when the actual value of a property is admittedly different from the value of the relief regarding that property for purposes of court fee. In such a case what should be the valuation of the subject matter for purposes of jurisdiction The learned Subordinate Judge has held that for jurisdictional purposes the actual value i.e. the full market value will prevail even though for purposes of computation of court fee the prescribed method is to fix the value at half the market value. This, it is contended, is wrong and opposed to the scheme of the Kerala Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act - for short, called the Act.
(2.) O. S. No. 28 of 1967 on the file of the Subordinate Judge's Court, Trivandrum, is one for a declaration of the plaintiff's title to and possession of the property set out in the plaint schedule and for a consequential relief of injunction to restrain the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff's enjoyment. The plaintiff valued the property at Rs. 6000/- for purposes of jurisdiction and for purposes of court fee he put it at half of Rs. 6000/- under S.25(b) of the Act. This provision prescribes the method of calculating the value of the relief for purposes of court fee in a suit for declaratory decree coupled with a consequential relief in the shape of injunction where the relief sought is with reference to immovable property. According to S.25(b), "fee shall be computed on one half of the market value of the property or on rupees three hundred whichever is higher." The market value of the property is stated in the plaint to be Rs. 6000/- and no dispute has been raised about it by the defendants. Therefore, court fee may be said to be correctly paid on Rs. 3000/- in this case. The trouble begins elsewhere. Para.10 of the plaint relates to valuation and is in the following terms.
"The annual income from the plaint schedule property will be Rs. 600/-. Calculating at ten times the annual profits the market value of the plaint schedule property is Rs. 6000/-. This suit is valued at Rs. 6000/- for purposes of jurisdiction. Court fee of Rs. 275/- is paid on the sum of Rs. 3000/- being one half of the market value of the plaint schedule property, under S.25(b) of the Kerala Court Fees & Suits Valuation Act, X of 1960. As the subject matter of the suit will come within the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Court the suit is filed in this Court."
The valuation statement has been prepared taking it as ten times the annual profits, the multiple having been derived from S.7(2) of the Act. Thus, the market value is shown as Rs. 6000/- and valuation for purposes of court fees is shown as half that sum viz. Rs. 3000/-. According to the revision petitioner, the valuation for purposes of jurisdiction must follow and be the same as that for purposes of court fees, which means that the jurisdiction value must be brought down to Rs. 3000/- and the plaint must be returned for representation to the Munsiff's Court. The respondent contends that, for purposes of jurisdiction, we are concerned with the value of the subject matter which ordinarily is the market value of the property while for purposes of court fees the artificial method prescribed in S.25(b) of the Act will hold good. If there is substance in this contention the suit will lie in the Sub Court, even though for purposes of court fee the value of the relief may be only Rs. 3000/-. In short, according to the counsel for the appellant, the valuation for the relief under the Court Fees Act and the valuation of the subject matter for jurisdictional purposes under the same Act must be identical; while, according to the respondent, there is a basic distinction between the value of the subject matter and the value of the reliefs.
(3.) According to S.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure a suit has to be instituted in a Court whose pecuniary limits of jurisdiction will take in the amount or value of the subject matter of the suit. S.15 of the Code, however, insists that every suit shall be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade competent to try it. It is true that S.6 of the Code speaks of the value of the subject matter, but the semantic distinction sought to be spun out of the difference in phraseology is perhaps chimerical, because the expression "subject matter" means not the property involved in the suit but virtually the relief claimed, and it is its value that determines the jurisdiction. (See Mulla C.P.C. Vol. 1 page 26). I agree that ordinarily the value of the subject matter may be the market value of the property where the relief claimed is directly related to the property having a market value. However, a scheme has been envisaged in this regard by the Act. S.53 of the Act which deals with valuation for jurisdictional purposes is in two parts. It is worthwhile reproducing the Section:-
53. Suits not otherwise provided for.
(1) In a suit as to whose value for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of courts, specific provision is not otherwise made in this Act or in any other law, value for that purpose and value for the purpose of computing the fee payable under this Act shall be the same.
(2) In a suit where fee is payable under this Act at a fixed rate; the value for the purpose of determining the jurisdiction of courts shall be the market value or where it is not possible to estimate it at a money value such amount as the plaintiff shall state in the plaint.";
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