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Madras High Court
R.M.P.S. Muthiah Chettiar And … vs Authinamulagi And Ors. on 10 December, 1913
Equivalent citations: 22 Ind Cas 799, (1914) 26 MLJ 225


1. The Subordinate Judge as a Small Cause Court has returned the plaints under Section 23 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act because the “relief claimed” by the plaintiffs cannot be granted by the Small Cause Court without determining the question whether plaintiffs have the kudivaram right in the plaint lands. The determination of that question is necessary owing to the defendant’s questioning the jurisdiction of the Small Cause Court (which is a Civil Court) defendants contending that the Revenue Courts alone have jurisdiction.

2. Ultimately, therefore, as the ” relief claimed” by the plaintiffs cannot be granted by the Small Cause Court without deciding the question of plaintiffs’ title to the kudivaram it is not inappropriate to say that the decision as to the grant of that relief ” depends upon the proof or disproof of a title to immoveable property” within the words of Section 24 of Act IX of 1887. Mr. Varadachariar for the petitioners in revision contends that the relief itself for the recovery of rent does not depend upon the proof or disproof of plaintiff’s kudivaram title but it is only the jurisdiction of that particular court as a Civil Court to grant such relief that so depends upon the proof or disproof of the kudivaram title and hence Section 23 does not apply. We hold (though not without hesitation) that this contention cannot be accepted. The reason for the rule enacted in Section 23 seems to be that, where it is considered advisable by a Small Cause. Court that a final decision on a question of title, which decision would, if given by an original court, ordinarily be subject to appeal and even to Second Appeal and which decision would ordinarily be res judicata between the parties should be given in the particular case before the Small Cause Court by an Original Court the Small Cause Court, though competent to decide incidentally the question of title in that particular case, might exercise with discretion the power of returning the plaint to be presented to the Original Court which would have jurisdiction to so decide on that title finally. That reason applies also to cases where a question as to jurisdiction between Revenue and Civil Courts depends on the title to immoveable property disputed between the parties. We therefore hold that the Subordinate Judge’s order under Section 23 was not illegal or passed without jurisdiction.

3. Even if we are wrong in the above view the defendant (or at least some of them) in their written statements have denied plaintiff’s title as trustees of the temple to sue for the rent and such title as trustees is, again, a title which a Small Cause Court cannot finally determine and on that ground also the return of the plaints (or at least those plaints against which that contention was raised) can be justified.

4. We therefore dismiss these revision petitions.

5. Costs will abide. In one of the petitions (C.R.P. 768 of 1910) in which the Respondent died and which has abated there will be no order as to costs.

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