HIGH COURT OF MADHYA PRADESH
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(1.) IN a suit filed by the non-applicant for rendition of accounts of a dissolved partnership and for recovery of Rs. 4000 alleged to have been invested by him in the partnership, the defendant-applicants raised the plea that it was the plaintiff who was liable to render accounts and that on the taking of accounts they would be found entitled to recover some money from the plaintiff. The applicants tentatively valued their claim at Rs. 1000 and paid court- fee on this valuation. Thereafter, the plaintiff by amending his plaint raised the objection that the petitioners had not properly valued their claim for rendition of accounts by the plaintiff and the amount claimed by the petitioners on the taking of accounts. It was averred by the plaintiff that the petitioners should have paid court-fee on Rs. 7000 which they claim from the plaintiff after taking the accounts. Thereupon, the petitioners moved an application for amendment so as to make it clear that after the taking of account some amount, though not necessarily Rs. 7000, would be found due to them from the plaintiff. The learned Civil Judge, Class I, Bhopal, who is trying the suit rejected this prayer of the petitioners. Hence this revision petition.
(2.) THIS application must be granted. The trial Court's approach to the question of court-fee payable by the defendant-applicants when they plead that money would be found due to them on taking accounts has been altogether erroneous. Under section 7 (iv) (f) the amount of court-fee payable in a suit for accounts is according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint. In a suit for accounts the plaintiff is entitled to put his own valuation. Likewise, if the defendant's plea that on the taking of accounts some amount would be found due, is regarded as a cross-claim, then the court-fee payable on such a cross-claim would be as under section 7 (iv)(f). The defendant-applicants were, therefore, entitled to put their own valuation on the amount which they thought would be due to them. They were not claiming a decree against the plaintiff for a specific amount of Rs. 7000. Therefore, the applicants were entitled to say that on the taking of accounts Rs. 1000 would be found due to them or some amount would be found due to them. In this view of the matter, the learned Civil Judge should have allowed the amendment prayed for by the petitioners.
In fact, it was not at all necessary for the defendants to pay any court- fees when they claimed that some money would be found due to them on taking accounts and no amendment of the written statement for changing the valuation of the amount that would be found due to (hem on taking accounts was necessary. It is well settled that under Order 20, rule 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure a decree can be passed in favour of the defendant if on the taking of accounts it is found that any balance is due to him. (See Ram Charon v. Bulaqui. A I R 1924 All. 854 When a decree is passed in favour of the defendant, then the court- fee can be recovered under section 11 of the Court Fees Act. There is nothing in the Court Fees Act suggesting that in a suit of this nature it is incumbent upon the defendant to pay any court-fee on the written statement filed by him claiming a decree, for such sum as may be found due to him on the taking of accounts. I am fortified in this view by the decision of the Judicial Commissioner's Court, Sind,. in Wali Mahomed v. Khoja Ismallia Trading Co.*. In that case it has been held that the defendant in a suit for accounts can plead that money would be due to him on taking accounts and can also ask for a decree in his favour for such amount as may be found due to him on enquiry; it is not necessary in such cases for the defendant to pay court-fees on the written statement filed by him, as it is not a set-off nor a cross-claim ; there is no warrant for holding that where a defendant nominally values his relief on which he pays court-fees and offers to pay additional court-fees on such sum as may be found due to him on settlement of accounts, he must be deemed to have relinquished his claim for the balance.
The lower Court should have, therefore, allowed the amendment application made by the petitioners and held that the court-fee paid on the valuation put by the defendant-applicants on the relief claimed by them was sufficient, and further that additional court-fee would be payable by the applicants in the event of it being found that they were entitled to get more than the estimated amount after the taking of the accounts.
(3.) FOR these reasons, the order dated 25th January 1968 of the Civil Judge, Class I, Bhopal, is set aside and the petitioners are allowed to amend their written statement in accordance with their application dated 21st July 1967 under Order 6, rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Costs of this application shall follow the result in the trial Court. Counsel's fee is fixed at Rs. 50. Application allowed.;
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