Decided on June 23,1978

KUNHEERIUM Respondents


- (1.) The petitioner filed a suit for recovery of certain amount under a promissory note executed by the defendant. The case stood posted to 17-9-76. The defendant was absent on that date and was declared ex parte. The suit was adjourned to 23 9-76. On 23-9-76, the Advocate for the plaintiff filed a statement which is as follows: "1. This suit has been settled out of court. 2. It is therefore submitted that the suit may be dismissed as settled on plaintiff's admission without taking any evidence and that half court fee may be refunded, under S.69 of the Kerala Court Fees Act." Following this the suit was dismissed and the plaintiff moved for refund of half of the court fee, whereupon the Court passed the following order. "Heard. As per the provisions of the Court Fees Act, refund cannot be allowed unless there is admission of the defendant of the plaint claim. In the instant case, there was no occasion for the same and as such this petition is devoid of merits and hence rejected." The above order is challenged in this revision petition.
(2.) S.69 of the Court Fees Act reads: "When a suit or appeal is compromised or when a suit is decided solely on the admission of the parties without any investigation, one half of the Court fee paid on the plaint or memorandum of appeal shall be ordered by the Court to be refunded to the parties by whom the same have been paid respectively."
(3.) It is no doubt true that the words in a statute have to be interpreted in the setting where they are used and take colour from the context in which they appear. Even so, S.69 does not admit an interpretation entitling the plaintiff to a refund of the court fee in the circumstances mentioned in the case. The section contemplates refund of court fee when the suit is decided (1) on a compromise or (2) on admission of parties without an investigation. There is no claim based on a compromise. The argument is that the use of the word 'parties' in the section implies that the admission contemplated in the section need not be confined to an admission by the defendant but would include an admission by the plaintiff. There is no doubt about this. When there is a counter claim by the defendant in the same suit and there is an admission by the plaintiff, the defendant who paid court fee on the counter claim is entitled to a refund thereof for which purpose the written statement filed by him will be treated as a plaint. The use of the word 'parties' is also attributable to the fact that the section mentions both plaint and memorandum of appeal. There may also be cases where there are more than one plaintiff or appellant. Hence no assistance is available from the word 'parties' for deciding whether the petitioner is entitled to refund.;

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