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The Suits Valuation Act, 1887
Section 12 in The Suits Valuation Act, 1887
The Code Of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2002
Section 12(2) in The Code Of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2002
V.R.Gopalakrishnan vs Andiammal on 25 January, 2002

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Madras High Court
G.Sarala vs B.Ranganthan on 10 February, 2011

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS

DATED : 10.02.2011

CORAM

THE HON'BLE Mr. JUSTICE K.VENKATARAMAN

C.R.P. (PD) No.37 of 2011

&

M.P.No.1 of 2011

G.Sarala

W/o.Gopalakrishnan ... Petitioner

-Vs.-

B.Ranganthan

S/o.Bakthavachalu ... Respondent

Civil Revision Petition has been filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India against the fair and decreetal order dated 03.12.2010 made in I.A.No.70 of 2010 in O.S.No.4006 of 2007 passed by the learned Judge, Fast Track Court II, Chennai (City Civil Court, Madras). For petitioner : Mr.B.Harikrishnan

For Respondent : Mr.D.Sathish Kumar

for Mr.R.Manickavel

O R D E R

The present Civil Revision Petition is directed against the fair and final order of the learned Fast Track Judge No.II, Chennai dated 03.12.2010 made in I.A.No.70 of 2010 in O.S.No.4006 of 2007.

2. The defendant in the above referred suit is the petitioner herein and the plaintiff thereon is the respondent.

3. The respondent herein has filed the said suit against the petitioner for permanent injunction restraining the petitioner and her men from interfering with his peaceful possession and enjoyment of the suit property and also to direct the petitioner to execute a settlement deed in favour of the respondent herein in respect of the suit property. In the said suit, the petitioner has taken out an application in I.A.No.70 of 2010 to decide whether the suit has been valued and proper Court fee has been paid as preliminary issue. The said application was dismissed by the Court below and the present revision is directed against the said order.

4. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that Section 12(2) of Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955 contemplates the question regarding whether the suit has been properly valued or not, on raising the same by the defendant shall be heard and decided before evidence is recorded affecting such defendant, on the merits of the claim. Hence, according to the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, the said issue has to be decided at the first instance before deciding the further issues.

5. That apart, he has contended though Order 14 Rule 2 of CPC contemplates that the issue regarding jurisdiction or bar on the suit can also be decided as preliminary issue, Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act is a substantial law while CPC is a procedural law and hence, substantial law will prevail over the procedural code. Summing up his arguments, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner contended that the Court below ought not to have rejected the request of the petitioner to decide the issue, whether the suit has been valued properly or not as preliminary issue and should have allowed the application filed by the petitioner seeking for such relief.

6. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the respondent contended that,

(i) There is already a direction by the Hon'ble Apex Court to dispose of the suit within six months by an order dated 13.09.2010. However, without proceeding the matter further, the petitioner has filed application after application and hence the Court below has rightly rejected the request of the petitioner. (ii) The Court below has arrived at the market value at Rs.7,69,000/- and directed the respondent herein to pay the Court fee and the Court fee has been paid. (iii) No document has been filed by the petitioner to show that the value of the property is more than thirty lakhs.

7. I have considered the submissions made by the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner as well as the learned counsel appearing for the respondent.

8. Section 12(2) of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955 contemplates that the issue regarding, whether proper Court fee has been paid or not shall be heard and recorded before evidence is recorded. It will be useful to reproduce Section 12(2) of the Act which is extracted here under: "12. Decision as to proper fee in other courts -

2) Any defendant may, by his written statement filed before the first hearing of the suit or before evidence is recorded on the merits of the claim but, subject to the next succeeding Subsection, not later, plead that the subject matter of the suit has not been properly valued or that the fee paid is not sufficient. All questions arising on such pleas shall be heard and decided before evidence is recorded affecting such defendant, on merits of the claim. If the court decides that the subject matter of the suit has not been properly valued or that the fee paid is not sufficient, the court shall fix a date before which the plaint shall be amended in accordance with the court's decision and the deficit fee shall be paid. If the plaint be not amended or if the deficit fee be not paid within the time allowed, the plaint shall be rejected and the court shall pass such order as it deems just regarding costs of the suit."

9. Order 14 Rule 2 contemplates that all the issues have to be decided except where the jurisdiction and bar of suit is raised. If those issues are raised, the same shall be decided at the first instance.

10. This Court in the judgment reported in 2002 (2) CTC 513, V.R.Gopalakrishnan v. Andiammal has held that the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act is a substantial law while CPC is a procedural law and the substantial law will prevail over the procedural code. It has been further held that when the defendant files an application to decide the value of the suit property, the same shall be decided as preliminary issue. Paragraph 14 of the said judgment is usefully extracted here under: "14. There appears to be some conflict between the provisions in C.P.C. (ie) Order 14 Rule 2 when read with Section 12(2) of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act with reference to deciding the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Court. Suppose in a given case, the defendant comes forward with an application requesting the court to decide an issue relating to valuation of the suit property or the payment of court fee as a preliminary issue, the Court may applying the provision Order 14, Rule 2, decide to consider along with other issues and not as a preliminary issue. Then the defendant may file an application to consider the issue as per the provisions of Section 12(2) of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, then the Court will have no discretion and it has to consider the same. The Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act is a substantial law while C.P.C is a procedural law. The substantial law will prevail over the procedural code and consequently, it follows whenever the defendant files an application, requesting the court to decide the issue of valuation of the suit property or the payment of court fee and all questions arising on such pleas as a preliminary issue, the Court has to necessarily consider as per the provisions of Section 12(2) of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act. Not in all cases where the defendant has disputed in the written statement, the valuation of the suit property or contended that the suit has not been properly valued, the court has to consider it as a preliminary issue. Only where the defendant makes an application, the Court is bound to consider under Section 12(2) of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act."

11. However, in the present case on hand, I am not inclined to direct the Court below to decide the said issue as preliminary issue before other issues can be decided, for the following reasons: (i) The Hon'ble Apex Court in Special Leave Appeal (Civil) Nos.25532 to 25534 of 2008, by order dated 13.09.2010 has directed the Court below to dispose of the suit within six months. While so, the petitioner has come forward with the present application on 22.11.2010 only. (ii) The petitioner, even in the written statement has stated that the respondent herein being the plaintiff in the said suit has not paid necessary Court fee as required under the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1955. The said written statement was filed in September 2003. While so, the petitioner has come forward with the application, which order is in question was filed only in November 2010. (iii) The court below has valued the property at Rs.7,69,000/- and directed the respondent herein to pay the Court fee and the Court fee has been paid.

(iv) The petitioner who alleges that the respondent herein has not properly valued the property and the value of the property is more than 30 lakhs has not substantiated the same by filing an documents.

12. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner relied on the decision reported in 1997 (I) CTC 499, Selvaraj and two others v. Kannan. That is the case where this Court has held that the power of the Trial Court under Section 12(2) of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act can be exercised only before the evidence is recorded ad not after recording of the evidence.

13. In the judgment reported in 2007 (2) CTC 803, M.Aswath v. Jeeja Baby and 4 Others, this Court has held that under Section 12(2) the question whether suit has been properly valued alone can be gone into and the said Section cannot be pressed into service by the defendant to decide the issue of jurisdiction as preliminary issue. Objection regarding improper valuation of the suit property has to be decided before the evidence is recorded on the merits of the claim. There cannot be any quarrel over the said proposition.

14. Thus, the request of the petitioner was rightly rejected by the Court below for the reasons set out earlier.

15. In fine, I am not inclined to interfere with the order of the learned Fast Track Judge No.II, Chennai dated 03.12.2010 made in I.A.No.70 of 2010 in O.S.No.4006 of 2007 and the present Civil Revision Petition stands dismissed. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed. However, no orders as to costs. pgp

To

The learned Fast Track Judge No.II,

City Civil Court,

Chennai