Posted On by &filed under High Court, Madras High Court.

Madras High Court
Murza Hyder Alli Sahib vs Syed Hussain Raza Sahib And Ors. on 26 February, 1914
Equivalent citations: 24 Ind Cas 316
Author: Bakewell


Bakewell, J.

1. The plaint in this suit recites a decree of this Court in Original Suit No. 392 of 1878 under which a committee was constituted “to supervise the management and conduct of the charity known as the Abbasi Aushoor Khana or Thousand Lights” by the managers under the scheme provided by the decree in Original Suit No. 198 of 1868, and alleges that the plaintiff has been validly appointed a member of the Committee in accordance with the provisions of the first mentioned decree : and prays for a declaration that the plaintiff is a duly appointed member of the Committee of Management and is entitled to participate with the other members of the Committee, that, if necessary, the defendants may be directed to give the plaintiff joint possession of the charities and its endowments, and for an injunction, pendents lite, restraining the defendants from interfering with the existing management of the charity without the concurrence of the plaintiff. Paragraph 7 of the plaint estimates the value of the relief for purposes of jurisdiction” at Rs. 3,000. Under the decree of 1878 the Committee can frame rules for the conduct and management by the managers of the charity and its property, and settle disputes between them, and they can dismiss a manager and fill up any vacancy : and there are provisions for the election of members of the Committee and its President : but under the the decree of 1878 the managers or mutawallis are entitled to possession and management of the properties of the charity. It is clear that the prayer for joint possession of the properties of the charity is not warranted by the document upon which the plaintiff’s claim is based, and has been inserted for the purpose of bringing this suit within the description contained in the Court Fees Act, 1870, Section 7iv(c), namely, “suits to obtain a declaratory decree or order, where consequential relief is prayed”. In a suit of this kind, brought in a Court other than the High Court, an ad valorem fee is payable according to the amount at which the relief sought is valued in the plaint, which must contain a statement of this amount [Court Fees Act, Section 7 : Civil Procedure Code, Order VII, Rule 1(1) : and Section 8 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887]. The value of the suit for purposes of jurisdiction is determined by this statement.

2. By Section 3 of the Madras City Civil Courts Act, 1892, the City Court has jurisdiction to dispose of all suits of a civil nature not exceeding Rs. 2, 500 in value, with certain exceptions : but under Section 16 the High Court retains its jurisdiction in respect of such suits.

3. The question has arisen whether the jurisdiction of the City Court has been ousted in this case by reason of the inclusion of the prayer for consequential relief,” and the valuation by the plaintiff of the relief sought by him at a sum exceeding the pecuniary jurisdiction of that Court.

4. I am of opinion that the expression consequential relief” means a Substantial and immediate remedy in accordance with the title which the Court has been asked to declare. In the present case no title to possession of the properties of the charity is alleged and no prayer has been or could be inserted in the plaint for a declaration that the plaintiff is entitled to such possession : and a decree for possession would not follow from a declaration that the plaintiff is a duly appointed member of the Committee. I think, therefore, that a prayer for possession is not for “relief consequential” upon a declaratory decree. The prayer for possession is not justified by the averments in the body of the plaint, and is, therefore, unnecessary and embarrassing and may be struck out. The statement as to value then becomes also unnecessary and may likewise be struck out.

5. The suit is, in fact, merely for a declaration that the plaintiff is a member of the Committee and falls within Article 17, clause III of the second Schedule of the Court Fees Act. It is not alleged that any emoluments are attached to this office, and if the suit does not come within that clause, it falls within clause VI of the same Article which provides for “every other suit where it is not possible to estimate at a money value the subject-matter in dispute, and which is not otherwise provided for by this Act.” In either case a fixed Court fee of Rs. 10 is chargeable under the Act, and Section 8 of the Suits Valuation Act does not apply. It has been argued that the Court is bound to accept the plaintiff’s statement of the value of the relief sought by him for the purpose of jurisdiction. This is no doubt the case where that statement depends upon facts which constitute the cause of action alleged in the plaint, and the Court cannot verify it without trying the whole case. See Koti Pujari v. Manjaya 21 M. 271. But where the statement is obviously a fictitious averment made for the purpose of ousting the jurisdiction of a Court and its falsity is apparent from the averments of the plaint and the documents recited therein, I think that the Court should not permit itself to be made a party to the plaintiff’s fraud : but should inquire whether it has jurisdiction. See Lakshman Bhatkar v. Babaji Bhatkar 8 B. 31.

6. It has also been argued that, if the suit be for a declaration merely, the Court may, for purposes of jurisdiction, have regard to the value of the property concerned, and decisions have been cited which support this argument.–Ganapati v. Chathu 12 M. 223. followed in Ibrayan Kunhi v. Komamutti Koya 15 M. 501 : 2 M.L.J. 255. and Chingacham Vitil Sankaran Nair v. Chingacham Vitil Gopala Menon 30 M. 18 : 1 M.L.T. 412. The judgment in Ganapati v. Chathu 12 M. 223. does not cite any authority for this proposition, but where the declaration sought relates to land, the land itself may be said to be the subject matter of the suit, and then its value will determine the jurisdiction (Madras Civil Courts Act, 1873, Section 14 : Madras City Civil Court Act, Section 9). The plaint in this case does not set out the properties of the charity or their value, nor even allege that they consist of land, and the declaration sought relates to an office and not to property. On the other hand it has been held in Kunhan v. Sankara 14 M.78, that a suit for the removal of a Karnavan is incapable of valuation and within the jurisdiction of a District Munsif, and I think that a suit with respect to an office not of profit falls within the principle of that decision.

7. For these reasons I hold that this suit is for a declaration with respect to a matter incapable of valuation, and is not excepted from the provisions of Section 3 of the Madras City Civil Courts Act, and that the City Court was, therefore, competent to try the suit.

8. I have accordingly admitted in evidence the judgment in Original Suit No. 15 of 1909 of the City Court, and the judgment of this Court on appeal therefrom (Exhibits I and II). With reference to the plea of res judicata, the plaintiff claims that the persons by whom he was appointed had power to do so, they themselves having been validly appointed members of the Committee, and he, therefore, claims under these persons. The validity of the appointment of the plaintiff’s appointors was directly and substantially in issue in the suit in the City Court, as appears from the judgments, and the decision was against them. I hold that the plaintiff is bound by that decision and that his appointment was invalid : and I dismiss the suit with costs.

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