M P KRISHNA PILLAI Vs. KERALA STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION
LAWS(KER)-2003-4-64
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Decided on April 08,2003

MADHYA PRADESHKRISHNA PILLAI Appellant
VERSUS
KERALA STATE ROAD TRANSPORT CORPORATION Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) How valuation for the purpose of determining pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court is calculated under S.53 of the Kerala Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1959 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act" for short), when a suit is filed for declaration of title and consequential injunction with regard to the immovable property where court fee is payable under S.25(b) of the Act That is the question to be decided in this case. At the out set, we may extract S.25(b) and S.53 of the Act for the purpose of proper understanding of the issue. "25. Suits for declaration. - In a suit for a declaratory decree or order, whether with or without consequential relief, not falling under S.26 - (a) xxx xxx xxx (b) where the prayer is for a declaration and for consequential injunction and the relief sought is with reference to any immovable property, fee shall be computed on one - half of the market value of the property or on rupees one thousand whichever is higher; (c) xxx xxx xxx (d) xxx xxx xxx (i) xxx xxx xxx (ii) xxx xxx xxx" S.53 of the Act reads as follows: "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 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".
(2.) In this case, the suit was filed before the Principal Sub Court, Thiruvananthapuram on 27.3.1995 for a declaration and consequential injunction for which the valuation is shown in the plaint as Rs.20,000/- under S.25(b) of the Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act. The suit was dismissed. S.13 of the Kerala Civil Courts Act, 1957 before it was amended by Act 6 of 1996 with effect from 27.3.1996 reads as follows: "13. Appellate jurisdiction of District Court and Subordinate Judge's Court. - (1) Appeals from the decree and order of a Munsiff's Court and where the amount, or value of the subject matter of the suit does not exceed (twenty five thousand rupees) from the original decree and orders of a Subordinate Judge's Court shall, when such appeals are allowed by law, lie to the District Court: Provided xxx xxx xxx" By Act 6 of 1996 the words "25,000/- rupees" was substituted by "2 lakhs rupees". Since the amendment effected in 1996 has no retrospective effect and right of appeal is a substantive right, we have to consider the appeal provisions as was existing at the time of filing the suit. (See the decisions reported in Clara v. Augustine ( 1984 KLT 377 ) and Joshua v. Geevarghese Mar Dioscorus ( 1984 KLT SN 85 Case No. 137). When this appeal was filed, the Registry raised the following objections: "The suit was filed for declaration and consequential injunction for which the valuation is shown as Rs.20,000/- under S.25(b) of the Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act. In suits under S.25(b) of the Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, the valuation for the purpose of court fee is adopted as valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction and hence appeal not maintainable before the High Court. (Kalu Parvathy and another v. G. Krishnan Nair ( 1969 KLJ 599 ), Sadasivan v. Chempakakutty Bharathy ( 1980 KLT 616 ) and Sebastian v. Thressia ( 1986 KLT 501 ).
(3.) In Kalu Parvathy and another v. G.Krishnan Nair (1969 KLJ 599), Sadasivan v. Chempakakutty Bharathy (1980 KLT 616) and Sebastian v. Thressia (1986 KLT 501), this Court held that in suits under S.25(b) of the Act, the valuation for the purpose of court fee shall be adopted as valuation for the purpose of jurisdiction. During the relevant time if the valuation of the suit is below Rs.25,000/-, appeal was maintainable only before the District Court and not before the High Court. When the Registry raised the above objection, the appellant in this case, on the basis of the decision in Damodaran Unni v. State of Kerala ( 1982 KLT 709 ) submitted that even though the court fee is calculated under S.25(b) as Rs.20,000/-, value of the subject matter of the suit is Rs.40,000/-. One half of the market value of the property involved in the case was taken as value only for the purpose of calculating court fee only but jurisdictional value is Rs.40,000/- itself and hence the appeal is maintainable in the High Court itself. This dispute regarding the maintainability of appeal was placed before the court. The learned single Judge of this Court was of the opinion that the decision reported in Damodaran Unni v. State of Kerala (1982 KLT 709) differs from the decisions reported in 1969 KLJ 599, 1980 KLT 616 and 1986 KLT 501 (supra) and the matter shall be referred to a Full Bench of this Court.;


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