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Payement Of Court Fees: Based On Market Value Or Not

Vanshita Singh ,
  13 September 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
CIVIL APPEAL NO.4347 OF 2010(Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 3597 of 2009)

CASE TITLE:
Satheedevi vs. Prasanna and Another

DATE OF ORDER:
7 May 2010

JUDGES:
Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly

PARTIES:
Appellant: Satheedevi
Respondent: Prasanna and Another

SUBJECT

The appeal was submitted to set aside the Kerala High Court’s decision where the learned Single Judge declined to challenge Sub Judge Palakkad’s instruction to the appellant to pay court fees based on the market value of the property listed in the plaint schedule, which raises a significant legal issue regarding the interpretation of Section 40 of the Kerala Court-Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1959.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

The Kerala Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1959

  • Section 7 - Determination of market value - where the fee payable under this Act depends on the market value of any property, such value shall be determined as on the date of presentation of the plaint
  • Section 40 - Suits for cancellation of decrees, etc. - In a suit for cancellation of a decree for money or other property, fee shall be computed on the value of the subject-matter of the suit.

BRIEF FACTS

  • 9.98 acres of rubber plantation belonged to the appellant. In favour of her own daughter, she signed a power of attorney (respondent No.1 herein). After some time, respondent No. 1 gave her spouse (respondent No. 2 in this case) the property through a registered sale deed.
  • By claiming that respondent No. 1 had abused the power of attorney and sold the property to her husband, the appellant sought for its cancellation.
  • The trial Court ordered the appellant to pay court fees based on the market value of the property listed in the plaint schedule by judgement dated 21.5.2008.
  • The learned Single Judge of the Kerala High Court dismissed the Writ Petition in which the appellant had challenged that order.
  • In accordance with the High Court’s decision, the appellant requested and was granted permission to amend the plaint and add a prayer for the revocation of the sale deed that respondent No.1 executed in favour of respondent No. 2.
  • The property’s worth was listed in the amended plaint as Rs. 7,00,000. As a result, the court fees were paid. The trial Court did, however, require the appellant to pay court fees based on the plaint schedule property’s market worth, which was estimated at Rs. 12 lakhs per acre, in a decision dated 3.7.2008.
  • The learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petition that the appellant had filed and held that, according to Section 40 of the Act, the writ petitioner must pay court fees based on the property's market value rather than the value stated in the sale deed.

ISSUES RAISED

Whether the respondent should pay the court fee on the market value of the property, in respect of which the sale deed was executed by respondent or not?

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

  • Since Section 40 of the Act does not allow for the payment of court fees based on the market value of the property for which the document that is the subject of the lawsuit was executed, learned counsel for the appellant argued that the interpretation given by the trial Court and the High Court of that section is ex facie incorrect and that the impugned order is liable to be set aside.
  • The learned attorney stressed that, according to Section 40(1), court fees must be paid based on the value of the property for which the instrument was signed, or Rs. 7 lakhs in this case, and claimed that the appellant had done so in a proper manner.
  • The counsel supported his arguments by relying on the judgements of Andalammal vs B. Kanniah AIR 1972 Mad 5, (1971) 2 MLJ 205, and Allam Venkateswara Reddy v. Golla Venkatanarayana and others AIR 1975 AP 122.
  • The learned counsel submitted that the valuation in a suit for cancellation of a deed of conveyance must be based on the market value of the property at the date of the plaint [Kolachala Kutumba Sastri vs Lakkaraju Bala Tripura (1939) 1 MLJ 702].

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The respondent’ slearned senior counsel contended that the phrase “value of the property” used in the execution of the agreement actually refers to the property’s market worth and cannot be interpreted as the value stated in the document.
  • The market value of the property must be taken into account for the purpose of paying the court fees, according to learned senior counsel, who made the argument that various High Courts have consistently held this to be the case [Kutumba Sastri v. Sundaramma AIR 1939 Madras 462]. He relied his argument on certain judgements of High Court, such as Appikunju Meerasayu v. Meeran Pillai1964 KLT 895, Uma Antherjanam v. Govindaru Namboodiripad and others1966 KLT 1046, T. Tharamma vs T. Ramchandra Reddy And OrsAIR 1968 AP 333and Sengoda Nadar vs Doraiswami Gounder And Ors(1970) 2 MLJ 643 and argued that the learned Single Judge did not commit any error by refusing to interfere with the order of the trial Court.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • According to the judge’s order, the plaintiff should value his remedy in accordance with Section 7(4)(A)’s provisions rather than S.7(V) of the previous Court Fees Act of 1870.
  • The Full Bench favoured the position reached in Bali Reddi v. Khatifulal(1970) 2 MLJ 643, after referencing the differences of opinion between the several rulings.
  • The Court held that given their examination of the pertinent statutory requirements, it must be determined that the rulings in Andalammal vs B. Kanniahand Allam Venkateswara Reddy v. Golla Venkatanarayana lay down correct law that when an Act contains a special rule for valuing property for court fees, that method of valuation must be used in preference to any other method.
  • As previously mentioned, Section 40 of the Act undoubtedly contains such a special rule. We do not see any reason why the phrase “value of the property” used in Section 40(1) should be replaced with the phrase “market value of the property.”

CONCLUSION

As a result, the appeal is granted. Both the trial court’s judgement requiring the appellant to pay court fees based on the market value of the property, in respect of which respondent No.1 completed the sale deed in favour of respondent No.2, as well as the impugned order of the learned Single Judge of the Kerala High Court, are reversed. The trial court will now continue with the case and render a legal decision. It is up to the parties to cover their own expenses.

 
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