Decided on September 14,1953

In Re: D. Lakshminarayana Chettiar Appellant
STATE Respondents


SUBBA RAO, J. - (1.) THE following question was referred to the Full Bench by a Division Bench of this Court of which I was a member: What is the meaning of the words "distinct subjects" in Section 17, Court -fees Act?
(2.) THE facts that gave rise to the reference may be briefly stated. The appellants' father executed a gift deed on 1 -10 -1928 in favour of their mother in respect of items 1 to 5 of the B schedule annexed to the plaint. On 17 -12 -1932 the appellants' father executed another gift deed in favour of their mother in respect of item 6 of the B schedule. The mother sold them under six sale deeds on various dates to defendants 1, 2,3,4. 5th defendant's husband, and the 35th defendant. Defendants 6 to 32 are alienees from the 5th defendant's husband. In the plaint in respect of each declaration a fixed fee was paid aggregating to Rs. 1400. The plaintiffs' suit was dismissed and the present appeal was filed with a court -fee of Rs. 500. It was contended before the Division Bench that the court -fee paid was correct. It would be correct if the appeal did not involve distinct subjects, within the meaning of Section 17, Court -fees Act (hereafter called the Act). As there were conflicting views as regards the connotation of the words "distinct subjects" in the said section, we referred the aforesaid question to a Pull Bench for an authoritative decision.
(3.) THE argument of the learned counsel for the appellants may be briefly stated thus: Order 2, Rule 3, Civil P. C. enables a plaintiff to unite different causes of action subject to the conditions lain town therein. Order 1, Rule 1 and Order 1, Rule 3 enabling the joinder of plaintiffs or defendants are wider in scope than Order 2, Rule 3. "Under the said rules parties may be added and causes of action joined if the right to relief arises out of the same act or transaction and where there is a common question of law or fact. The matters allowed to be united under Order 2, Rule 3 are distinct subjects whereas matter based upon the same act or transaction involving common questions of fact or law, even though there are two or more causey old action, would be one distinct subject. Learned counsel appearing for the Government contended that "distinct subjects" in Section 17 of the Act are synonymous with distinct causes of action. At the outset it may be convenient to consider the provisions of Section 17 of the Act unhampered by the long catena of cases cited at the Bar. Section 17 reads : "Where a suit embraces two or more distinct subjects the plaint or memorandum of appeal shall be chargeable with the aggregate amount of the fees to which the plaints or memoranda of appeal in suits embracing separately each of such subjects would be liable under this Act. Nothing in the former part of this section shall be deemed to affect the power conferred by the Code of Civil Procedure, Section 9." The section consists of the main part and a saving clause. A simple illustration makes the meaning of the section clear. A flies a suit against B on two promissory notes executed by B in A's favour. The value of the relief in respect of the first promissory note is taken and the court -fee on such value is calculated. Then the value of the relief on the second promissory note is taken and the court -fee payable on such value is arrived at. Thereafter the said two sums are added and the total amount is the court -fee payable on the plaint. The plaint comprises two subjects in respect whereof two plaints could have been presented. The aggregate value of the court -fee payable on each of the plaints is the court -fee payable on the consolidated plaint. The second clause saves the power of the court in appropriate circumstances to direct the plaintiff to split up the plaint into its component parts and have separate trials. ;

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