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27/01/2023 at 15:10 #122201Dinesh #Guest
When material available in the Plaint to ascertain the Valuation for Court fees or Jurisdiction!
Court in S.Rm. Ar. S.Sp. Sathappa Chettiar v. S. Rm. Ar. Rm. Ramanathan Chettiar,  SCR 1024 Gajendragadkar, J. speaking for the Court observed as follows:-
“If the scheme laid down for the computation of fees payable in suits covered by the several sub- sections of s. 7 is considered, it would be clear that in respect of suits falling under sub-s.
(iv), a departure has been made and liberty has been given to the plaintiff to value his claim for the purposes of court fees. The theoretical basis of ‘this provision appears to be that in cases in which the plaintiff is given the option to value his claim, it is really difficult to value the claim with any precision or definiteness. Take for instance the claim for partition where the plaintiff seeks to enforce his right to share in any property on the ground that is joint family property. The basis of the claim is that the property in respect of which a share is claimed is joint family property. In other words, it is property in which the plaintiff has an undivided share. What the plaintiff purports to do by making a claim for partition is to ask the court to give him certain specified properties separately and absolutely on his own account for his share in lieu of his undivided share in the whole property. Now it would be clear that the conversion of the plaintiff’s alleged undivided share in the joint family property into his separate share cannot be easily valued in terms of rupees with any precision or definiteness. That is why legislature has left it to the option of the plaintiff to value his claim for the payment of court fees. It really means that in suits falling under s. 7(iv)(b) the amount stated by the plaintiff as the value of his claim for partition has ordinarily to be accepted by the court in computing the court fees payable in respect of the said relief. In the circumstances of this case it is unnecessary to consider whether, under the provisions of this section, the plaintiff has been given an absolute right or option to place any valuation whatever on his relief. “
In the above decision, this Court took the view that the conversion of the plaintiff’s undivided share in the joint family property into his separate share cannot be easily valued in terms of rupees with any precision or definiteness. It is true that the Court did not consider whether the plaintiff had been given an absolute right or option to place any valuation whatever on his relief under the provision of section 7(iv) of the Court Fees Act, but the difficulty that would be felt by the Court in exercising its power under order VII, Rule 11(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure is that if it is unable to determine the correct value of the relief, it cannot direct the plaintiff to correct the valuation. Order VII, Rule 11(b) contemplates correct valuation and not approximate correct valuation and such correct valuation of the relief has to be determined by the Court. If the Court cannot determine the correct valuation of the relief claimed, it cannot require the plaintiff to correct the valuation and, consequently, order VII, Rule 11(b) will not be applicable.
But, there may be cases under section 7(iv) where certain positive objective standard may be available for the purpose of determination of the valuation of the relief. If there be materials or objective standards for the valuation of the relief, and yet the plaintiff ignores the same and puts an arbitrary valuation, the Court, in our opinion, is entitled to interfere under order VII, Rule 11(b) of the Code of Civil Procedure. for the Court will be in a Position to determine the correct valuation with reference to the objective standards or materials available to it. In Urmilabala Biswas v. Binapani Biswas & ors., AIR 1938 Cal 161 a suit was instituted for declaration of title to Provident Fund money amounting to a definite sum with a prayer for injunction restraining the defendant from withdrawing the said money. It was held that there was no real distinction between the right to recover money and the right to that money itself, and that the relief should have been valued at the Provident Fund amount to which title was claimed by the Plaintiff. Thus, it appears that although in that case the suit was one under section 7(iv)(c) of the Court Fees Act, there was an objective standard which would enable the plaintiff and the Court too to value the relief correctly and, in such a case, the Court would be competent to direct the plaintiff to value the relief accordingly.
In Kishori Lal Marwari v. Kumar Chandra Narain Deo and another, AIR 1939 Patna 572 a question arose as to the valuation of a suit for injunction restraining a decree- holder from executing his decree on the ground that the decree was collusive and obtained by fraud and, therefore, void and incapable of execution. It was held by the Patna High Court that the plaintiff must value his suit according to the amount of decree and must pay ad valorem court fee on such amount. In this case also, there was a positive objective standard for the valuation of the suit.
We may now refer to a decision of the Calcutta High Court in Nalini Nath Mallik Thakur v. Radhashyam Marwari & Ors., AIR 1940 Cal 482. But, before we refer to the decision, we may point out that by the Bengal Amendment Act VII of 1935, a new section 8-C has been inserted in the Court Fees Act. Section 8-C provides that if the Court is of opinion that the subject-matter of any suit has been wrongly valued, it may revise the valuation and determine the correct valuation and may hold such enquiry as it thinks fit for such purpose. In Nalini Nath Mallik Thakur’s case (supra), it has been observed that although a satisfactory valuation may not be possible in the majority of the cases falling under section 7(iv), when once the Court has formed the opinion that the plaintiff’s estimate is wrong, it becomes the duty of the Court to estimate a correct and reasonable valuation of the relief claimed and it is for the Court to decide on the merits of each particular case whether the provisions of section 8-C should be invoked for the purpose of revising the plaintiff’s valuation. Further, it has been observed that if the relief claimed is impossible to value, the Court is, of course, not in a position to say that such relief has been wrongly valued and there is consequently no scope for the operation of section 8-C, but in a suit where it is sought to set aside a decree, such valuation, although difficult, is not impossible. In a suit to set aside a decree prima facie the value of the relief claimed by the plaintiff would be the value of the decree and the onus would clearly lie on him to show that the relief should be valued at some smaller amount. It thus follows from the above decision that if the Court is of the opinion that the plaintiff’s estimate is wrong, it becomes the duty of the Court to estimate a correct and reasonable value of the suit. If, however, the Court is not in a position to decide the correct value of the suit, it has to accept the value that has been put the plaintiff on the relief claimed. In Nalini Nath Mallik Thakur’s case (supra), there was an objective standard of valuation, namely, the decree which was souyht to be set aside.
Thus, where there are objective standards of valuation or, in other words, the plaintiff or the Court can reasonably value the relief correctly on certain definite and positive materials, the plaintiff will not be permitted to put an arbitrary valuation dehors such objective standards or materials.
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