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Thursday, November 21, 2013

whether a suit filed seeking a declaration that a will and a sale deed are void, resulting their cancellation, will fall u/s. 7(iv-A) of the Court Fees Act, 1870, as amended by the U.P. Amendment Act (Act XIX of 1938) or Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act, 1870 for the purpose of valuation. = Shailendra Bhardwaj & Others .. Appellants Versus Chandra Pal & Another .. Respondents = Published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/helddis.aspx

         COURT FEES ACT, 1870:

s.7(iv-A) and Articles 17(iii) as amended by U.P. Act, 19 of 1938 - Suit
for declaration of a will and a sale deed as null and void and for
cancellation thereof - Court fee payable - Held: The suit having been filed
after death of testator, suit property covered by the will has to be valued
- Since s. 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act specifically provides that
payment of court fee in case where the suit is for or involving
cancellation or adjudging/declaring null and void decree for money or an
instrument, Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act would not
apply - Consequently, in terms of s. 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act, the
court fees have to be computed according to the value of the subject matter
and trial court as well as High Court have correctly held so.

The appellant filed a suit for declaration of a will and a sale as null and
void and to cancel the same.  The suit property was valued at ? 30,00,000/-
but the fixed court fee of ? 200/- was paid under Article 17(iii) of
Schedule II to the Court Fees Act, 1870.  The trial court held that the
plaintiff should have paid the court fee as per s.17(iv-A) of the U. P.
Amendment Act.  The High Court upheld the said order.

In the instant appeal, the question for consideration before the Court was:
whether a suit filed seeking a declaration that a will and a sale deed are
void, resulting their cancellation, will fall u/s. 7(iv-A) of the Court
Fees Act, 1870, as amended by the U.P. Amendment Act (Act XIX of 1938) or
Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act, 1870 for the purpose
of valuation.

          Dismissing the appeal, the Court

HELD:

1.1  Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act, 1870 is
applicable in cases where the plaintiff seeks to obtain a declaratory
decree without any consequential relief and there is no other provision
under the Act for payment of fee relating to relief claimed. But if such
relief is covered by any other provisions of the Court Fees Act, then
Article 17(iii) of Schedule II will not be applicable. The suit, in the
instant case, was filed after the death of the testator and, therefore, the
suit property covered by the will has also to be valued. The plaintiff
valued the suit at Rs.30 Lakhs for the purpose of pecuniary jurisdiction.
However, he paid a fixed court fee of Rs.200/- under Article 17(iii) of
Schedule II of the Court Fees Act.  He had not noticed the fact that the
said Article stood amended by the State, by adding the words "not otherwise
provided by this Act". Since s. 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act
specifically provides that payment of court fee in case where the suit is
for or involving cancellation or adjudging/declaring null and void decree
for money or an instrument, Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court
Fees Act would not apply.  The U.P. Amendment Act, therefore, is
applicable, despite the fact that no consequential relief has been claimed.
Consequently, in terms of s. 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act, the court
fees have to be computed according to the value of the subject matter and
the trial court as well as the High Court have correctly held so. [Para
10-11]

Suhrid Singh v. Randhir Singh and Others (2010) 12 SCC 12 - held
inapplicable


CASE LAW REFERENCE

(2010) 12 SCC 12 held inapplicable Para 5





                                               REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8196  OF 2012
               [Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 10958 of 2012]




Shailendra Bhardwaj & Others                       .. Appellants

                                   Versus

Chandra Pal & Another                              .. Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T




K. S. Radhakrishnan,J.



1.    Leave granted.

2.    The short question that has come up for consideration in this case  is
whether a suit filed seeking a declaration that a will and a sale  deed  are
void, resulting their cancellation, will fall under Section 7(iv-A)  of  the
Court Fees Act, 1870, as amended by the  U.P.  Amendment  Act  (Act  XIX  of
1938) [for short ‘the U.P. Amendment Act’] or Article  17(iii)  of  Schedule
II of the Court Fees Act, 1870 for the purpose of valuation.

3.    Civil Suit No. 230 of 2006 was filed before the  Court  of  the  Civil
Judge, Hathras, U.P. seeking the following reliefs:
      “(A)  Decree may be passed in favour of the plaintiffs and against the
           defendants, declare null and void and invalid of the forged will
           dated 21.3.2003 and sale deed dated 12.1.2005 and cancel and its
           information sent to the office of Registrar Hathras.


      (B)   That the cost of the Suit  may  be  decreed  in  favour  of  the
           plaintiff and against the defendants.


      (C)   That any other cost which may deem fit by the Hon’ble  Court  in
           favour of the  plaintiff  and  against  the  defendants  in  the
           interest of Justice.”




4.    The suit property was valued and the cost of the  property  was  fixed
at Rs.30,00,000/- and the Court fee  of  Rs.200/-  was  paid  under  Article
17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fee Act.  The question arose before  the
trial Court whether the plaintiff had  properly  valued  the  suit  and  the
court fee paid.  The trial Court took the view  that  the  plaintiff  should
have paid the court fee as per Section 7(iv-A) of the  U.P.  Amendment  Act.
The matter was taken up before the High Court.   The  High  Court  concurred
with the views taken  by  the  trial  Court  and  dismissed  the  appeal  on
15.12.2011, against which this appeal has been preferred.

5.    Shri Viresh Kumar Yadav, learned counsel appearing on  behalf  of  the
appellant, submitted that the  Courts  below  have  committed  an  error  in
holding that the suit be valued and an ad valorem court fee  be  paid  under
Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act.  Learned counsel  submitted  that
the plaintiff had correctly valued the suit and proper court  fee  was  paid
in accordance with Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of  the  Court  Fees  Act.
Considerable reliance was also placed on  the  judgment  of  this  Court  in
Suhrid Singh v. Randhir Singh and Others [(2010) 12 SCC  12]  and  contended
that the Court fee need be paid only on the plaint averments.

6.    Shri M. R. Shamshad, learned counsel appearing for the respondent,  on
the other hand, contended that the  High  Court  has  come  to  the  correct
conclusion that even though no consequential reliefs was prayed  for,  still
as per the U.P. Amendment Act, plaintiff will have  to  pay  the  court  fee
under Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act.  Learned counsel  submitted
that the plaintiff had valued the suit without noticing the  fact  that  the
State of U.P. had amended the Court Fee Act by Act XIX of 1938 and in  terms
of Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment  Act,  the  court  fee  has  to  be
commuted according to the value of the subject  matter  and  an  ad  valorem
court fee has to be paid.  Learned counsel also submitted that the  judgment
of this Court in Suhrid Singh (supra) is not applicable to the facts of  the
present case and this Court had no occasion to consider  the  scope  of  the
U.P. State amendment in that judgment.

7.    We may, for proper appreciation of the various contentions  raised  by
the parties, refer to the provisions of the Court Fees Act as well as  Court
Fees Act as amended by the U.P. Amendment Act, which  will  give  a  correct
picture of the changes made by the U.P. Amendment  Act  on  the  Court  Fees
Act.  An operative chart of the Court Fees Act and the  U.P.  Amendment  Act
is given below:

|Court Fees Act                |As per UP Amendment Act (19  |
|                              |of 1938)                     |
|“7. Computation of fees       |“7. Computation of fees      |
|payable in certain suits:     |payable in certain suits for |
|The amount of fee payable     |money:                       |
|under this Act in the suits   |The amount of fee payable    |
|next hereinafter mentioned    |under this Act in the suits  |
|shall be computed as follows: |next hereinafter mentioned   |
|....................          |shall be computed as follows:|
|....................          |....................         |
|                              |....................         |
|(iv) In Suits –               |                             |
|....................          |For declaratory decree with  |
|....................          |consequential relief – (iv)  |
|For declaratory decree and    |in Suits-                    |
|consequent relief-            |to obtain a declaratory      |
|.........(a) .....            |decree or order, where       |
|.........(b)......            |consequential relief other   |
|For a declaratory decree and  |than relief specified in     |
|consequential relief (c) to   |sub-section (iv-A) is prayed;|
|obtain a declaratory decree or|                             |
|order, where consequential    |For cancellation or adjudging|
|relief is prayed,             |void instruments and decrees |
|.................             |– (iv-A) in suit for or      |
|.................             |involving cancellation of or |
|According to the amount at    |adjudging void or voidable a |
|which the relief sought is    |decree for money or other    |
|valued in the plaint or       |property having a market     |
|memorandum of appeal.         |value, or an instrument      |
|                              |securing money or other      |
|                              |property having such value:  |
|                              |                             |
|                              |Where the plaintiff or his   |
|                              |predecessor-in-title was a   |
|                              |party to the decree or the   |
|                              |instrument, according to the |
|                              |value of the subject matter, |
|                              |and                          |
|                              |Where he or his              |
|                              |predecessor-in-title was not |
|                              |party to the decree or       |
|                              |instrument, according to     |
|                              |one-fifth of the value of the|
|                              |subject-matter, and such     |
|                              |value shall be deemed to be- |
|                              |If the whole decree or       |
|                              |instrument is involved in the|
|                              |suit, the amount for which or|
|                              |value of the property in     |
|                              |respect of which the decree  |
|                              |was passed or the instrument |
|                              |executed, and if only a part |
|                              |of the decree or instrument  |
|                              |is involved in the suit, the |
|                              |amount or value of the       |
|                              |property to which such part  |
|                              |relates.                     |
|                              |                             |
|                              |Explanation – ‘the value of  |
|                              |the property’ for the        |
|                              |purposes of this sub section,|
|                              |shall be the market-value,   |
|                              |which in the case of         |
|                              |immovable property shall be  |
|                              |deemed to be the value as    |
|                              |computed in accordance with  |
|                              |sub-section (v), (v-A) or    |
|                              |(v-B), as the case may be.”  |
|                              |                             |
|                              |                             |
|                              |-------------------------    |
|                              |“Schedule II                 |
|                              |Article 17    Plaint or      |
|                              |memorandum of appeal in each |
|                              |of the following suits:      |
|                              |..................           |
|                              |..................           |
|                              |(iii) To obtain a declaratory|
|                              |decree where no consequential|
|----------------------        |relief is prayed in any suit,|
|“Schedule II                  |not otherwise provided for by|
|Article 17    Plaint or       |this act;                    |
|memorandum of appeal in each  |                             |
|of the following suits:       |                             |
|..................            |                             |
|..................            |                             |
|(iii) To obtain a declaratory |                             |
|decree where no consequential |                             |
|relief is prayed.             |                             |




8.    We may also indicate that the Suits Valuation Act, 1887  in  terms  of
which the suits have to be valued for the purpose  of  Court  Fees  Act  has
also been amended vide U.P.  Act  7  of  1939  (w.e.f.  16.7.1939)  and  the
difference in both the Acts are given below:

|Suits Valuation Act,        |Suits Valuation Act, 1887  |
|1887(Central Act)           |[Amended provision in the  |
|                            |State of U.P.]             |
|4. Valuation of relief in   |4. Valuation of certain    |
|certain suits relating to   |suits for the purposes of  |
|land not to exceed the value|jurisdiction – Suits       |
|of the land-                |mentioned in paragraphs IV |
|Where a suit mentioned in   |(a), IVA, IVB, V, VA, VB,  |
|the Court Fees Act, 1870 (7 |VI, VIA; VIII and X(d) of  |
|of 1870), Section 7,        |Section 7 and Articles 17, |
|paragraph IV, or Schedule   |18 and 19 of the Schedule  |
|II, Article 17, relates to  |II of the Court-Fees Act,  |
|land or an interest in land |1870, as in force for the  |
|of which the value has been |time being in the Uttar    |
|determined by rules under   |Pradesh, shall be valued   |
|the last foregoing section, |for the purposes of        |
|the amount at which for     |jurisdiction at the market |
|purposes of jurisdiction the|value of the property      |
|relief sought in the suit is|involved in or affected by |
|value shall not exceed the  |or the title to which is   |
|value of the land or        |affected by the reliefs    |
|interest as determined by   |sought, and such value     |
|those rules.                |shall, in the case of land,|
|                            |be deemed to be the value  |
|                            |as detgerminable in        |
|                            |accordance with the rules  |
|                            |framed under Section 3”.   |
|                            |[Vide U.P. Act 7 of 1939.  |
|                            |Section 3 (w.e.f.          |
|                            |16.07.1939].               |


9.    On comparing the above mentioned provisions, it is clear that  Article
17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act is applicable  in  cases  where
the  plaintiff  seeks  to  obtain   a   declaratory   decree   without   any
consequential relief and there is no  other  provision  under  the  Act  for
payment of fee relating to relief claimed.  Article 17(iii) of  Schedule  II
of the Court Fees Act makes it clear that  this  article  is  applicable  in
cases  where  plaintiff  seeks  to  obtain  a  declaratory  decree   without
consequential reliefs and there is no other  provision  under  the  Act  for
payment of fee relating to relief claimed.  If there is no  other  provision
under the Court Fees Act  in  case  of  a  suit  involving  cancellation  or
adjudging/declaring void or voidable a will or sale deed on the question  of
payment of court  fees,  then  Article  17(iii)  of  Schedule  II  shall  be
applicable.  But if such relief is covered by any other  provisions  of  the
Court Fees Act, then Article 17(iii) of Schedule II will not be  applicable.
On a comparison between the Court Fees Act and the U.P.  Amendment  Act,  it
is clear that Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act covers suits for  or
involving cancellation or  adjudging/declaring  null  and  void  decree  for
money or an instrument securing money or other property having  such  value.
 The suit, in this case, was filed after the  death  of  the  testator  and,
therefore, the suit property covered by the will  has  also  to  be  valued.
Since Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act specifically  provides  that
payment  of  court  fee  in  case  where  the  suit  is  for  or   involving
cancellation or adjudging/declaring null and void decree  for  money  or  an
instrument, Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act  would  not
apply.  The U.P. Amendment Act, therefore,  is  applicable  in  the  present
case, despite the fact  that  no  consequential  relief  has  been  claimed.
Consequently, in terms of Section 7(iv-A) of the  U.P.  Amendment  Act,  the
court fees have to be commuted according to the value of the subject  matter
and the trial Court as well as the High Court have correctly held so.

10.   We are of the view that the decision of this  Court  in  Suhrid  Singh
(supra) is not applicable to the facts of the present case.  First  of  all,
this Court had no occasion to examine the scope of the U.P.  Amendment  Act.
That was a case in which this Court was dealing with Section  7(iv)(c),  (v)
and Schedule II Article 17(iii), as amended in the  State  of  Punjab.   The
position that we get in the State of Punjab is entirely different  from  the
State of U.P. and the effect of the U.P. Amendment  Act  was  not  an  issue
which arose for consideration in that case.  Consequently, in our view,  the
said judgment would not apply to the present case.

11.   Plaintiff, in the instant case, valued the suit  at  Rs.30  Lakhs  for
the purpose of pecuniary jurisdiction.   However, for the purpose  of  court
fee, the plaintiff paid a fixed court fee of Rs.200/- under Article  17(iii)
of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act.  Plaintiff had not  noticed  the  fact
that the above mentioned article stood amended by the State, by  adding  the
words “not otherwise provided by this Act”.  Since Section  7(iv-A)  of  the
U.P. Amended Act specifically provides for payment  of  court  fee  in  case
where the suit is for or involving cancellation or adjudging/declaring  void
or voidable an instrument securing  property  having  money  value,  Article
17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act shall not be applicable.

12.   For the reasons abovementioned, the appeal lacks  in  merits  and  the
same is dismissed, with no order as to costs.






                                                       ………………………….........J.
                                        (K.S. Radhakrishnan)




                                                             …………………………………J.
                                         (Dipak Misra)
New Delhi,
November 21, 2012

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