SOUNDARAMIER Vs. SENNIA NAICKEN
LAWS(PVC)-1900-10-10
PRIVY COUNCIL
Decided on October 05,1900

SOUNDARAMIER Appellant
VERSUS
SENNIA NAICKEN Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Charles Arnold White, C J - (1.) In this case, I am unable to agree with the view which was taken by a Division Bench of this Court in Vedachala Mudali V/s. Ramasami Raja (1899) I.L.R. 22 M. 229. The question turns upon the construction to be placed upon the words " any suit of the nature cognizable in Courts of Small Causes" as used in Section 586 of the Civil P. C.. The object of the section, as it seems to me, is to takes, away the right of second or special appeal where the value of the subject matter of the original suit does not exceed Us. 500 in the case of all suits which as regards their subject-matter would be within the jurisdiction of Courts as Small Causes, but which are outside that jurisdiction by reason of the amount claimed being beyond the pecuniary limit of the Small Cause jurisdiction. This section is a reproduction of Act XXIII of 1861, Section 27, which provided that no special appeal should lie in any suit of the nature cognizable in Courts of Small Causes under Act XLII of 1850 when the debt, damage or demand did not exceed Rs. 500. Under Act XLII of 1860 claims for rent and other matters recoverable before a revenue officer ware expressly excluded from the jurisdiction of Small Cause Courts. Act XLII of 1860 was repealed by Act XI of 1865, the latter enactment providing Section (50) that references to. the Act of 1860 should be read as applying to the Act of 1865. The Act of 1865 was repealed by Act IX of 1887. Both the Act of 1865 and the Act of 1887 were Acts of the Governor-General in Council. The scheme of the Act of 1887 was the converse of that of the Act of 1865. Under the Act of 1865 a Court of Small Causes was given jurisdiction over certain specified claims. Under the Act of 1887 the Court has jurisdiction over all suits, provided the amount of the claim is within the pecuniary limit of the special jurisdiction, unless the suit is expressly excepted from the cognizance of the court Section 6 of the earlier enactment provided that a claim for rent should be cognizable by a Court of Small Causes when the amount claimed did not exceed Rs. 500, but that no action should lie for rent for which, at the time of the passing of the Act, a suit might be brought before a revenue officer unless, as regards arrears of rent for which such suit might be brought, the judges of the Court of Small Causes had been expressly invested by the local Government with jurisdiction over claims to such arrears . Section 7 gave power to the local Government to extend the jurisdiction, in suits of the nature described in Section 6, " and thereby made cognizable by Court of Small Causes" to an amount not exceeding Rs. 1,000. Section 15 of the later Act provides that a Court of Small Causes shall not take cognizance of the suits specified in the second schedule to the Act, but that, subject to the exceptions specified in the schedule and to the provisions of any enactment for the time being in force, all suits of a civil nature of which the value does not exceed Rs. 500 shall be cognizable by a Court of Small Causes. The same section empowers the local Government, subject to the exceptions in the schedule and the provisions of any enactment for the time being in force, to direct that all suits of a civil nature, of which the value does not exceed Rs. 1,000, shall be cognizable by the Court of Small Causes. Amongst excepted suits specified in the schedule are suits for the recovery of rent other than house-rent, unless the Judge of the Court of Small Causes has been expressly invested by the local Government with authority to exercise jurisdiction with respect thereto (article 8). By a notification, dated 24 January 1888, the Madras Government has invested all Subordinate Judges and District Munsifs within the Presidency with jurisdiction to try on their Small Cause side all suits for rent falling within the pecuniary limits of then special jurisdiction. The effect of article "8 and the notification read together is to give a judge jurisdiction to entertain a suit for rent as a Small Cause Suit, provided (1) he is a judge of a class to whom the notification applies, and (2) the amonnt claimed is not beyond the pecuniary limits of his special jurisdiction. By reason of the jurisdiction of a Small Cause Court being limited as regards amount, if the amount claimed exceed the limit, although the suit is" of a nature cognisable " by a Small Cause Court it is not cognizable. If a suit is cognizable it must be of a nature cognizable. But if it is of a nature cognizable it does not follow-that it is cognizable. When the claim is within the pecuniary limit, and the court is within the terms of the notification, no restriction of the right of appeal is necessary, because under the Small Cause Courts Act itself the decision of the Small Cause Court is final. It seems to me that Section 566 of the Code applies to cases which as regards subject matter would be within, but by reason of the amount claimed are without, the jurisdiction of a Court of Small Causes. The words of a nature cognizable" seem to have reference to the subject-matter of the suit as distinguished, from the amount of the claim. In the case of Vedachala Mudali V/s. Bamaswami Raja (1899) I.L.R. 22 M. 229 a Division Bench were of opinion that a second appeal lay in cases where the suit for rent had been made cognizable by the not ificat on, and would not" have been cognizable but for the notification, on the ground that such suits were not cognizable by virtue of the Act but by virtue of the authority conferred on certain judges by the local Government. I do not see how it can be said that suits which are rendered cognizable by reason of the not fication are not suits which are cognizable by virtue of the Ac:, since the notification was issued under the express powers conferred by the Act. The words "any suit of the nature cognizable" as used in Section 586 of the Code may be paraphrased thus:Any suit relating to a subject-matter over which a Court of Small Causes would have jurisdiction if the claim were within the pecuniary limits of its jurisdiction. The view that the effect of the notification is to render suits for rent suits of the nature cognizable in Courts of Small Causes" does not, in my judgment, involve the proposition that as soon as Government by notification empowers any judge to try rent suits on the Small Cause side, all such suits throughout the Presidency cease to be sauts excepted from the cognizance of Courts of Small Causes and become suits cognizable in, such courts. It does involve the proposition that all suits for rent become "of the nature cognizable"; but whether a given suit for, rent ceases to be a suit excepted from the cognizance of a Court of Small Causes, must depend, first, upon the question whether the tribunal before which the suit is instituted is included in the notification and secondly, the question whether the amount of the claim is within the pecuniary limit of the jurisdiction of that tribunal. To my mind there is no real anomaly in holding that a suit instituted upon the regular side of a Court which has not had Small Cause jurisdiction conferred upon it may be a suit of a nature cognizable by Courts of Small Causes." The suit would, be actually cognizable by that particular court if the court was entitled to exercise the special jurisdiction. The fact that it is not so ntiled does not prevent the suit being "of the nature cognizable in Courts of Small Causes" or affect the question of the construction of Section 586. So far, I have dealt with the case apart from authority. As regards the case reported in Ramachandra Raghunath V/s. Abaji Bastya (1899) I.L.R. 22 M. 229, Couch, G.J., seems to have overruled the preliminary objection on the ground that "suits of the nature cognizable by Courts of Small Causes must mean without reference to clause 4 of Section 6 of Act XI of 1865 and must be cognizable in general." I! we turn to Section 6 of the Act in question, we find that the section begins by enacting affirmatively that a suit for rent (which prima facie, includes a suit for arrears of rent) shall be cognizable by Courts of Small Causes. If, then, the words " of a nature cognizable" are to be construed without reference to clause 4, we find that the section expressly enacts that suits for rent shall be cognizable. If they are cognizable; it is difficult to see how it can be said that they are not of a nature cognizable. I confess I fail to follow the reasoning in this case.
(2.) The very general words of a nature cognizable" were no deubt, advisedly used" by the Legislature. In Musa Miya Saheb V/s. Sayed Gulam (1882) I.L.R. 7 B. 100, the Bombay High Court went so far as to hold that in a suit which, as regards subject-matter, had been expressly removed from the jurisdiction of a Small Cause Court by an enactment (Act X of 1876, Section 15) which removed suits to which the Collect was a party from the jurisdiction of Small Cause Courts, no second appeal lay. Sargent, G.J. and Melvill.J., held that the nature of the suit, by which must; be understood the jural relations between the parties, remained unaltered, and, as the Suit was one of a nature cognizable by a Small Cause Court, no second appeal lay. The tendency of the courts (with the exception of the Bombay case to which I have referred) seems to have been to carry out the intention of Section 586 by declining to place a narrow construction on the words of a nature cognizable." See, for instance, the case reported in Harakh V/s. Bam Sarup (1890) I.L.R. 18 A. 579. the Full Bench decision of this Court reported in Manappa Mudali V/s. S. T. McCarthy (1899) I.L.R. 22 M. 229, and the cases reported in Muthukaruppdn V/s. Sellan and Kali Krishna Tagore V/s. Izzatunnissa Khatun6.
(3.) I think our answer to the question referred to us) should be in the affirmative. Shephard, J.;


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