1. The only question in this rule is whether the Court-fees paid on the plaint are adequate.
2. The plaint, in substance, challenges the validity of the imposition which purports to have been made under Sections 15 and 15-A, General Police Act (5 of 1861) and the mode in which the amounts are about to be realized, namely in accordance with Sections 386 and 387, Criminal P.C., which is one of the modes provided for in Section 16 of the said Act. The prayers are for certain declaration and a permanent injunction restraining the realization of the amounts by the said method.
3. The Subordinate Judge is of opinion that Rs. 1,682 and Rs. 18,301 are the amounts of tax and compensation that remain unrealized, and the suit, therefore, relates to the plaintiffs’ liabilities which should be assessed at the sum total of these two amounts. He thinks that the reliefs sought for in the plaint involve declaration in respect of liabilities and an injunction restraining the realization of the said amount and that, therefore, the Court-feas should be paid ad valorem on the aggregate of the aforesaid two amounts.
4. The reliefs sought for in the plaint come within Section 7, Clause 4(c) and (d) of the Court-fees Act. Prima facie, in accordance with the terms of that section, the amount of fee is to be computed according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint. Of course the valuation should not be arbitrary and any device to evade the payment of proper Court-fees by casting the prayers in a way so as to admit of lesser Court-fees being paid should be guarded against and for that purpose it is necessary to look to the substance of the allegations made and of the reliefs sought for. On the other hand, the value of the relief is its value to the plaintiff and not necessarily the value of the property involved.
5. In the present case, leaving aside the declarations which by themselves do not affect the question of Court-fees, the consequential relief sought for is not recovery of the amounts which have been imposed, for they have not yet been realized – what has been realized is outside the scope of the suit – but a permanent injunction restraining the realization thereof by a particular process. There is no knowing whether by the said process the entire amounts yet unrealized will be realized. The value of the injunction to the plaintiffs is really the value at which the injury to the plaintiffs should be assessed. It is impossible to say that Rs. 5,100 is inadequate or arbitrarily low from that point of view, and so long as this cannot be said, the plaintiffs’ valuation must necessarily be accepted under Section 7, Court-fees Act.
6. In fairness to the learned Subordinate Judge, however, it must be said that the view he has taken is founded upon statement which is contained in a petition filed on behalf of the plaintiffs who were on the record at one particular stage of the proceedings. The question however, is one of law and not of fact and it cannot be said that by that statement either they nor those1 who came in as plaintiffs afterwards are concluded.
7. We are accordingly of opinion that the rule should be made absolute. We set aside the order complained against and direct that the trial of the suit be proceeded with on the plaint as it stands. The costs of this rule – hearing fee being assessed at three gold mohurs – will be costs in the cause.