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‘Market value’ of the property in suit shall be considered for valuation of Court fees:

AGRA DIOCESAN TRUST ASSOCIATION  v.  ANIL DAVID AND ORS. ,CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1722 OF 2020 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No. 18008 OF 2019) – February 19, 2020.

CORAM: Three judge bench comprising of Justices ARUN MISHRA, ARUN MISHRA, and S.RAVINDRA BHAT.

The appellant herein the plaintiff of the original suit filed a suit before the Civil Judge for the cancellation of the sale deed executed by the defendant1. Another suit was filed by the plaintiff for the cancellation of sale deed executed by the first two respondents in favour of the purchaser. Further a relief was sought for the permanent injunction of the respondent from interfering in plaintiff’s peace.  The trial court held that the suits filed were under-valued and the court fee paid by plaintiff was insufficient. Aggrieved by the said judgment, the plaintiff filed writ petition before the HC which accepted the respondents’ contention. Thus this case reached this court.

The counsel for the appellant argued that the land in dispute is a revenue payable land. Accordingly, the suits were correctly valued at 30 times of the revenue fixed by the state. The counsel relied on Section 7(iv-A) of the Court Fees Act. Reliance was placed on Shailendra Bhardwaj v. Chandra Pal & Anr (2013) 1 SCC 579 to say that the circle rate fixed by the collector for charging stamp duty is not the correct market value of the property for the purpose of court fees. The counsel also argued that the suits were properly valued and the proper court fee was paid.

The counsel for the respondent argued that this court should desist from interfering with the concurrent findings of the courts below, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. It is argued that the fixation of circle rate by the collector is the correct mode for fixation of market value, unless an aggrieved person challenges that the circle rate fixed by the collector is incorrect.

The court for the purpose of this issue extracted the provisions of Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Court Fees Act, 1870. Also this court referred the judgment Suhrid Singh alias Sardool Singh v. Randhir Singh & Ors. (2010) 12 SCC 112. The court addressed the issue of court fee payable in regard to the claim for a declaration that the sale deeds were void and not “binding on the coparcenary”, and for the consequential relief of joint possession and injunction. The court also referred the judgment Shailendra Bhardwaj & Ors. v. Chandra Pal & Anr. (supra) wherein the court noted the provisions of the Court Fees Act, 1870 to consider whether a suit for declaration that a will and a sale deed are void.

“The court observed that since Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act specifically provided that payment of court fees in cases where the suit is for, or involving cancellation or adjudging/declaring null and void a decree for money or an instrument, Article 17(iii) of Schedule II of the Court Fees Act was inapplicable. The U.P. Amendment Act, therefore, was applicable despite the fact that no consequential relief had been claimed. Consequently, in terms of Section 7(iv-A) of the U.P. Amendment Act, court fees were to be computed according to the value of the subject-matter. The trial court and the High Court correctly held it to be so. A plain reading of the impugned judgment reveals that what weighed heavily with the High Court was the fact that the plaintiff valued the suits differently for the purposes of court fees and jurisdiction. There was no compulsion for the plaintiff to, at the stage of filing the suit, prove or establish the claim that the suit lands were revenue paying and the details of such revenue paid. This aspect was lost sight of by the High Court, in the facts of this case. The reasoning and conclusions of the High Court, are therefore, not sustainable.”

Thus this court decided that the impugned judgment and order of the Trial Court cannot stand. The question of the market value is to be tried in the suit. Thus, the appeal succeeded and is allowed.

– PRIYADHARSHINI R

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