STATE OF PUNJAB VS DEV BRAT SHARMA - Supreme Court Judgement 2022

STATE OF PUNJAB VS DEV BRAT SHARMA - Supreme Court Judgement 2022

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s). 2064 OF 2022
(arising out of SLP (Civil) No(s). 12468 of 2018)
STATE OF PUNJAB
AND OTHERS ...APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
DEV BRAT SHARMA ...RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
VIKRAM NATH, J.
Leave granted.
2. The State of Punjab and its officers have assailed the
correctness of the judgment and order dated 11.08.2017
passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, whereby
the High Court allowed the revision petition filed by the
respondent Dev Brat Sharma and further proceeded to reject
the application of the appellant under Order VII Rule 11 read
with Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure1
 after setting
aside the order dated 10.11.2016 passed by the Trial Court
1 Code of Civil Procedure - CPC
1
holding that the respondent (plaintiff before the Trial Court)
was required to make good deficiency in the Court fees on
the amount of Rs. 20 Lakhs claimed by him as
compensation.
FACTS:
3. The respondent instituted a suit for recovery of Rs.20
Lakhs as damages allegedly suffered by him on account of
denying the status of freedom fighter by the defendants and
also for the loss of reputation on account of non-issuance of
certificate of freedom fighter along with interest @9% per
annum from the date of institution of the suit till realization
of the amount. The State of Punjab and five others (officers
of the State Government) were impleaded as defendants.
This suit was registered as Case No.1661 of 2015 in the
Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Jalandhar.
4. Briefly the facts as set out in the plaint were:
(i) that the respondent belongs to a renowned family of
Jalandhar. He had retired as DDPO and was the youngest
freedom fighter in the Quit India Movement. After retirement,
he was practicing as an Advocate and commanded great
2
respect among the residents of Jalandhar. Further details
regarding his family background are also stated.
(ii) that the respondent was duly recognized by the
Government of Punjab as a ‘freedom fighter’ but the
defendant No.3, the Director, Lotteries, who was posted as
Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar at the relevant time, denied
the said status.
(iii) that the respondent had filed two writ petitions before
the High Court at Chandigarh bearing CWP No.15316 of 2013
and CWP No.18535 of 2013 against the rejection of his
request for issuing the certificate of ‘freedom fighter’. The
High Court disposed of Writ Petition No.15316/2013 on
19.07.2013 and allowed Writ Petition No.18535/2013 on
14.11.2014.
(iv) that the respondent had to travel to Chandigarh several
times, engage lawyers, pay fees and expenses for the said
litigation at an old age, he had suffered great mental tension
and torture on account of illegal acts of the defendant Nos.3
to 6 (officers of State of Punjab).
3
(v) that the grandson of the respondent could not get
admission because of non-issuance of the said certificate
and so he had to be admitted in a college in the State of
Tamil Nadu.
(vi) that the respondent spent approximately Rs.2 Lakhs on
litigation. He had to make several trips to Tamil Nadu for the
education of his grandson, who otherwise could have been
admitted in Punjab. As such, he suffered damages of
approximately Rs.20 Lakhs, which included Rs.2 Lakhs for
the litigation expenses, mental tension, harassment and
further incidental damages.
5. Accordingly, a legal notice dated 16.03.2015 was given
under Section 80 CPC calling upon the defendants to pay a
sum of Rs.20 Lakhs as damages suffered by him. When
despite notice, the said amount was not paid, a suit was
instituted praying for the following reliefs:
“It is, therefore, respectfully prayed
that the suit of the plaintiff for recovery of
Rs.20,00,000/- (Rupees twenty lacs only) as
damages suffered by the plaintiff on
account of denying the status of Freedom
Fighter to the plaintiff by the defendant
No.3 who was posted as Deputy
Commissioner, Jalandhar at the relevant
time and loss of reputation on account of
4
non-issuance of Certificate of Freedom
Fighter for the use of his grandson, may
kindly be decreed in favour of the plaintiff
and against the defendant with costs, in the
interest of justice and equity.
It is further prayed that the decretal
amount may be allowed to be recovered
along with interest at the rate of 9% per
annum from the date of institution of the
suit till the realization of the amount.
It is further prayed that any other
relief, which this Hon’ble Court may deem
fit and proper may also be granted in
favour of the plaintiff and against the
defendant, in the interest of justice and
equity.”
6. According to the contents of paragraph 11 of the plaint,
the valuation of the suit both for the purpose of court fees
and jurisdiction was fixed at more than Rs.20 lakhs but court
fees of Rs.50/- was affixed relying upon judgment of the
Punjab & Haryana High Court. An undertaking to pay the
court fees on the sum to be adjudicated as damages by the
Court in due course of time was also stated. Paragraph 11 of
the plaint is reproduced below:
“11. That the value of the suit for the
purpose of court fee and jurisdiction is fixed
at more than Rs.20,00,000/- (Rupees
twenty lacs only) but in view of the latest
law, laid down by the Hon’ble Punjab &
Haryana High Court in case titled “Ajit
Singh Kohar Vs. Shashi Kant” (CR
5
No.5638 of 2014, decided on August
25th, 2014) that the suit for defamation
for maligning reputation, the affixation of
court fee of Rs.50/- is acceptable as exact
value of the relief to be granted, cannot be
ascertained at initial stage and accordingly,
the Hon’ble High Court left the petitioner in
that case to pay the court fee on the sum
to be adjudicated as damages by the lower
court in due course of time. The relevant
portion of the order of the Hon’ble High
Court is reproduced as under: -
“6. Sequelly, the impugned
order is set aside leaving the
petitioner to pay the court fee on
the sum to be adjudicated as
damages by the lower court in due
course of time, but not at this
initial stage, notwithstanding that
the petitioner though, leaving the
entire matter to the court for
adjudication of the quantum of
damages, he himself has given the
quantum of damages to be
Rs.2.00 Crores”
Thus, in view of the aforesaid decision
of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High
Court, though the plaintiff himself has given
the quantum of damages to be
Rs.20,00,000/- but at this initial stage,
notwithstanding that the plaintiff though,
leaving the entire matter to this Hon’ble
Court for adjudication of the quantum of
damages, is affixing the tentative court fee
of Rs.50/-. However, the plaintiff undertakes
to pay the court fee on the sum to be
adjudicated as damages by this Hon’ble
court in due course of time.”
7. The appellants filed written statement wherein
preliminary objections were raised, one of them being that
6
the suit had not been properly stamped for the purposes of
Court- fees. A replication was filed by the respondent
reiterating the contents of the plaint and also refuting the
preliminary objection.
8. The appellants thereafter preferred an application under
Order VII Rule 11 (c)read with Section 151 CPC on the ground
of non-payment of requisite Court-fees, which was registered
as IA No.00001 of 2016.
9. The Trial Court, vide order dated 10.11.2016, disposed
of the said application with the direction to the respondent to
file the Court-fees on the amount of Rs.20 Lakhs as claimed
by him and granted about 10 weeks’ time to make good the
deficiency.
10. The Trial Court first considered the judgment in the case
of Manpreet Singh vs. Gurmail Singh and others2
,
relied upon by the respondent in support of his submissions
and distinguished the same as being neither applicable nor
helpful for the respondent on the facts of the said case. It
further took into consideration the provisions contained in
2 (2016) 4 Civil Court Cases 503 (PLH)
7
Section 7(i) of the Court Fees Act, 18703
 as being applicable
and, accordingly, directed the respondent to make good the
Court- fees on the amount of Rs.20 lakhs claimed as
damages.
11. Aggrieved by the aforesaid order, the respondent
preferred a revision petition under Section 115 CPC before
the High Court which was registered as CR No.291 of 2017.
The High Court, vide judgment and order dated 11.08.2017,
referred to a number of judgments to hold that as the actual
and specified amount of damages was still to be assessed
and determined by the Trial Court, as such, the direction of
the Trial Court to pay ad valorem Court fees on the amount
of Rs.20 lakhs was not sustainable in law.
12. The High Court was further influenced by the pleadings
in the plaint and replication to the effect that the respondent
undertakes to make good the court fees on the amount
adjudicated as damages by the Court in due course of time.
13. The High Court, accordingly, set aside the order of the
Trial Court dated 10.11.2016 and rejected the application of
3 The Act
8
the appellant under Order VII Rule 11 CPC with a further
direction to the Trial Court to proceed with the suit.
14. The above judgment of the High Court is under
challenge. During the pendency of the Special Leave Petition,
the suit was dismissed by the Trial Court on 28.02.2020.
Aggrieved, the respondent has preferred an appeal under
Section 96 of the CPC, which is pending.
ARGUMENTS:
15. We have heard on behalf of the appellant- Ms. Uttara
Babbar, Advocate and on behalf of the respondent- Shri
Abhimanyu Tiwari, Advocate.
16. Broadly, the submissions advanced on behalf of the
appellants are:
(a) that the High Court fell in error in relying upon several
judgments which had no application to the facts of the
present case;
(b) that the judgment in the case of State of Punjab Vs.
Jagdip Singh Chowhan4
relied upon by the High Court was
carried in appeal5
 before this Court and this Court has held
4 (2005) 1 RCR (Civil) 54.
5 Civil Appeal No.3987 of 2006
9
that ad valorem court fees would be payable in a suit for
malicious prosecution for a claim of Rs. 2 Crores;
(c) that the Court-fees was payable under Section 7(i) of
the Act and that Section 7(iv) of the Act would have no
application. Reliance is placed upon two judgments i.e.
Ranjit Kaur vs. PSEB6
, and Manjeet Singh vs. Beant
Sharma7
;
(d) that the respondent in writ petitions filed before the
High Court had also claimed damages and compensation and
once such relief has not been granted by the High Court, the
suit itself, for the same relief was not maintainable and
ought not to have been entertained. It was a clear abuse of
process of law and such frivolous litigations ought to have
been nipped in the bud.
17. On behalf of plaintiff-respondent, the learned counsel
Shri Abhimanyu Tiwari has sought to justify the order of the
High Court as just, valid and in accordance with law.
According to learned counsel:
6 (2006) SCC Online P&H 1095
7 (2012) SCC Online P&H 13081
10
(a) the High Court rightly rejected the application under
Order VII Rule 11 in view of the several judgments referred to
in the order;
(b) as proper valuation could not be ascertained at the time
of institution of the suit, there would not be any justification
for charging ad valorem court fees on a tentative amount
mentioned in the plaint;
(c) the High Court had left it open for the Trial Court to
determine the actual valuation after trial whereupon the
court fees would be recovered from the plaintiff for which he
had given an undertaking also, and hence, no error could be
said to have been committed by the High Court;
(d) reliance has been placed upon the following judgments
in support of the above propositions:
i) M/s Commercial Aviation & Travel Company vs.
Vimla Pannalal8
.
ii) Hem Raj vs. Harchet Singh9
;
iii) Subhash Chander Goel vs. Harvind Sagar10;
(iv) State of Punjab vs. Jagdip Singh
Chowhan11(reversed by this Court);
8 (1988) 3 SCC 423,
9 (1993) Civil Court Cases 48 (P&H),
10 (2003) AIR (Punjab) 248,
11 (2005) 1 RCR (Civil) 54,
11
(v) Manpreet Singh vs. Gurmail Singh12;
(vi) Dr. B.L. Kapoor Memorial Hospital vs. Balbir
Aggarwal13
(e) before Trial Court issue no.3 was framed relating to
proper valuation of the suit for the purposes of the Courtfees. Trial Court vide judgment and order dated 28.02.2020
although had dismissed the suit but held that the onus to
prove the said issue was placed upon the defendants and as
no evidence was led nor any argument advanced in support
of the said issue, decided the same against the defendantsappellants. The judgment dated 28.02.2020 having not been
carried further by the appellants, it would suggest that they
had abandoned the said issue. In support of the said
submission that an abandoned issue could not be
resurrected in higher forum, reliance was placed upon
following two judgments: -
i) M.P. Shreevastava vs. Mrs. Veena14;
ii) Shanbhagakannu Bhattar vs. Muthu Bhattar15
.
12 (2016) 3 PLR 751,
13 (2015) SCC Online P&H 1790.
14 (1967) 1 SCR 147,
15 (AIR 1971 SC 2468.
12
(f) in the event this Court was of the view that the plaintiff
was liable to pay ad valorem court fees on the amount
mentioned in the plaint, then, the same would be of
academic interest only as the appellants had abandoned
their plea regarding valuation by not filing any cross
objection or appeal against the judgment dated 28.02.2020.
ANALYSIS:
18. Chapter III of the Act deals with ‘Fees In Other Courts
And In Public Offices.’ Section 6 thereof provides that no
document of any kind specified as chargeable in the First or
Second Schedule of this Act would be filed, exhibited or
recorded in any Court of Justice or would be received or
furnished by any public officer, unless in respect of such
document, fee of an amount not less than that indicated by
either of the said Schedules as the proper fee for such
document is paid. First Schedule lays down the computation
of ad valorem Court fees whereas Second Schedule gives the
table of fixed Court fees payable on different categories of
plaints, documents and pleadings.
13
19. Section 7 thereof provides for computation of fees
payable in certain suits. Sub-clause (i) refers to Money Suits
which includes suits for damages, compensation, arrears of
maintenance, annuities or other sums payable periodically
where the fee payable would be according to the amount
claimed. Then, there are other sub-clauses which are not
relevant for the case in hand. However, sub-clause (iv) which
has further six categories, namely, suits (a) for movable
property of no market value; (b) to enforce a right to share in
joint family property; (c) for a declaratory decree and
consequential relief; (d) for an injunction; (e) for easements;
and (f) for accounts. The fees on a suit falling in these
categories would be payable according to the amount at
which the relief sought is valued in the plaint or
memorandum of appeal. It also states that in all such suits
the plaintiff would state the amount at which he values the
relief sought. Section 6 and relevant part of Section 7 of the
Act are reproduced hereunder: -
“6. Fees on documents filed, etc., in
Mofussil Courts or in public offices. –
Except in the Courts hereinbefore mentioned, no
document of any of the kinds specified as
chargeable in the First or Second Schedule to
this act annexed shall be filed, exhibited or
recorded in any Court of Justice, or shall be
14
received or furnished by any public officer,
unless in respect of such document there be
paid a fee of an amount not less than that
indicated by either of the said Schedules as the
proper fee for such document.
7.Computation of fees payable in certain
suits. – The amount of fee payable under this
Act in the suits next hereinafter mentioned shall
be computed as follows: -
for money.- (i) In suits for money (including
suits for damages or compensation, or arrears of
maintenance, of annuities, or of other sums
payable periodically) – according to the amount
claimed.
……………… …………………… ……………….
(iv) In suits –
for movable property of no market-value.
-(a) for moveable property where the subjectmatter has no market-value, as, for instance,
in the case of documents relating to title,
to enforce a right to share in joint family
property. – (b) to enforce the right to share in
any property on the ground that it is joint
family property,
for a declaratory decree and
consequential relief. - (c) to obtain a
declaratory decree or order, where
consequential relief is prayed,
for an injunction. – (d) to obtain an
injunction,
for easements. – (e) for a right to some
benefit (not herein otherwise provided for) to
arise out of land, and
for accounts. - (f) for accounts15
according to the amount at which the relief
sought is valued in the plaint or memorandum
of appeal;
In all such suits the plaintiff shall state the
amount at which he values the relief sought;
……………… …………………
……………”
20. The moot question for consideration is whether the suit
in question as framed was a money suit for
compensation/damages falling under Clause (i) of Section 7
or was a suit falling in any of the categories specified in
clause (iv) of Section 7 of the Act. A reading of the relief
clause would make it abundantly clear that this was a money
suit for compensation/damages and not falling under any of
the categories mentioned in clause (iv) of Section 7 of the
Act. Therefore, there would be no question at all for the
applicability of Section 7(iv) of the Act. It would be a simple
case of applicability of Section 7(i) of the Act and ad valorem
Court-fees would have to be paid as per Schedule 1 entry 1.
21. It is only with respect to the category of suits specified
in clause (iv) of Section 7 of the Act that the plaintiff has the
liberty of stating in the plaint the amount at which relief is
valued and Court-fees would be payable on the said amount.
16
Liberty given under clause (iv) to the specific suits of six
categories is not available to the suits falling under any other
clause, be it (i), (ii), (iii) etc. Once the suit in question was a
money suit for compensation and damages falling under
clause (i) of Section 7 of the Act, ad valorem Court-fees
would be payable on the amount claimed.
22. The High Court, in the impugned judgement, has
referred to the following authorities in order to support the
conclusion arrived at by it:
1) M/s Commercial Aviation and Travel Company vs.
Vimla Pannala16;
2) Hem Raj vs. Harchet Singh17;
3) Subhash Chander Goel vs. Harvind Sagar (supra);
4) State of Punjab vs. Jagdip Singh Chowhan (supra);
5) Manpreet Singh vs. Gurmail Singh (supra);
6) Dr. B.L.Kapoor Memorial Hospital vs. Balbir
Aggarwal
(supra);
7) S.Ajit Singh Kohar vs. Sashi Kant (supra); and,
8) Bharpoor Singh and another vs. Lachhman Singh,
2017(1) Law Herald 609.
16 AIR (1988)3 SC 423
17 (1993) Civil Court Cases 48 (P&H)
17
23. The judgment in the case of Ms. Commercial Aviation
and Travel Company (supra) is of this Court and rest of the
judgments are of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The
judgment in the case of M/s Commercial Aviation and
Travel Company (supra) has been relied upon by the High
Court in the case of Hemraj (supra) which in turn has been
followed in other cases. In the case of Commercial
Aviation and Travel Company (supra), the suit was filed
for relief of dissolution of partnership and for accounts. For
the purposes of jurisdiction, it was valued at Rs. 25 lacs
whereas for the purposes of court fees the relief was valued
at Rs. 500/-. In those circumstances, an application was
moved by the defendant under Order VII Rule 11(b) CPC for
rejection of the plaint on the ground that the suit has been
grossly undervalued.
24. This Court considered the provisions under Section 7(iv)
of the Act and was of the view that suits covered by Section
7(iv) were of such nature that it is difficult to lay down any
standard of valuation and it was, therefore, that liberty was
given to the plaintiff to give a separate valuation of the relief
18
sought for the purposes of payment of court fees. This Court
also observed that in a suit for accounts, it is almost
impossible for the plaintiff to value the relief correctly. As
such the judgement in the case of M/s Commercial
Aviation (supra) has no application. The suit for accounts
and dissolution of partnership would fall in one of the six
categories as specified in Section 7(iv) of the Act.
25. This Court further relied upon a Constitution Bench
decision of this Court in the case of S.RM.AR.RM.
Ramanathan Chettiar (supra)reported in AIR 1958 SC
245 equivalent of 1958 SCR 1024 and quoted a paragraph
from the said judgment which explains why the legislature
left it open for the plaintiff to value his claim for the six
categories of the suit falling under Section 7(iv) of the Act.
The basic reason was that as it was almost difficult to value
the claim for any of the suits covered under Section 7(iv),
therefore, for the purposes of payment of court fees, a
different valuation for the relief sought could be given. All
such suits were thus placed in Clause (iv) giving liberty to
the plaintiff to give a separate valuation for relief sought.
19
However, ultimately it would be the actual relief granted
which would determine the court fees to be paid and the
same may be made good by the plaintiff in case lesser court
fees was paid.
26. In the case of Chettiar (supra), the relief claimed was
for partition of the joint family properties and also for
accounts in respect of the joint family assets managed by
the respondent. The plaintiff further valued the claim for
accounts at Rs. 1,000/- and paid a court fees of Rs. 100/- on
the said amount. However, for the purposes of jurisdiction,
the appellant gave a valuation of Rs. 15 lacs as the value of
his share. The registry took objection with regard to the
payment of the court fees and valuation, and therefore, the
matter was referred to various authorities, officers and Court
under the provisions of the Act. Ultimately after a series of
innings, the matter was settled by the aforesaid judgment
and while dealing with the said issue regarding different
valuations and payment of court fees at the time of
institution of the suit, this Court discussed the scheme of
Section 7 and in that context, explained it as follows:
20
“If the scheme laid down for the computation of
fees payable in suits covered by the several subsections of s. 7 is considered, it would be clear
that, in respect of suits falling under sub-s. (iv), a
departure has been made and liberty has been
given to the plaintiff to value his claim for the
purposes of court fees. The theoretical basis of this
provision appears to be that in cases in which the
plaintiff is given the option to value his claim, it is
really difficult to value the claim with any precision
or definiteness. Take for instance the claim for
partition where the plaintiff seeks to enforce his
right to share in any property on the ground that it
is joint family property. The basis of the claim is
that the property in respect of which a share is
claimed is joint family property. In other words, it is
property in which the plaintiff has an undivided
share. What the plaintiff purports to do by making
a claim for partition is to ask the court to give him
certain specified properties separately and
absolutely on his own account for his share in lieu
of his undivided share in the whole property. Now
it would be clear that the conversion of the
plaintiff's alleged undivided share in the joint
family property into his separate share cannot be
easily valued in terms of rupees with any precision
or definiteness. That is why legislature has left it to
the option of the plaintiff to value his claim for the
payment of court fees. It really means that in suits
falling under s. 7 (iv)(b) the amount stated by the
plaintiff as the value of his claim for partition has
ordinarily to be accepted by the court in
computing the court fees payable in respect of the
said relief. In the circumstances of this case it is
unnecessary to consider whether, under the
provisions of this section, the plaintiff has been
given an absolute right or option to place any
valuation whatever on his relief.”
21
27. In the case of Hem Raj (supra) and all other judgments
referred to in the impugned judgment, reliance is placed
upon the observations from the judgments of Commercial
Aviation(supra) and Chettiar (supra) explaining the
departure of difference carved out for the categories and
suits covered by Section 7(iv) of the Act. They have
erroneously proceeded to apply the same to the category of
money suits mentioned in Section 7(i) of the Act. Neither in
the case of M/s Commercial Aviation (supra) nor in the
case of Chettiar (supra), this Court ever laid down that for
the purposes of suits covered by clauses other than Section
7(iv), there could be separate valuation for the purposes of
court fees and jurisdiction. On a completely erroneous
approach, an erroneous interpretation of the judgments in
the case of M/s. Commercial Aviation (supra) and
Chettiar (supra), several orders were passed by the Punjab
& Haryana High Court, which have been relied upon in the
impugned judgment. What is important to note here is that
this case related to the valuation for the purposes of relief
sought.
22
28. In the present case, the respondent has not given a
separate valuation for relief sought and rightly so, as it had
no liberty and right to give different valuation than what was
being actually claimed. As a matter of fact, in para 11 of the
plaint it is clearly stated that the valuation is the same for
Court-fees and jurisdiction.
29. The valuation for the purposes of jurisdiction and relief
has to be the same in the money suits falling under category
7(i). It was only in category of suits covered by Clause (iv) of
Section 7 that there could be two different valuations for the
purposes of jurisdiction and for relief sought.
30. Ms Babbar referred to two judgments of the Punjab and
Haryana High Court in support of her submissions, namely,
Ranjit Kaur (supra) (2006) and Manjeet Singh (supra)
(2012). Manjeet Singh (supra) had relied upon Ranjit
Kaur (supra) which had clearly held that in a suit for
damages, ad valorem Court-fees would be payable on the
amount of the damages claimed.
31. Ms. Babbar also pointed out that the judgment in the
case of Ranjit Kaur (supra) dealt with the case laws on the
23
point not only of this Court but also of different High Courts.
It specifically noted that the judgments in the case of
Subhash Chander Goel (supra), Jagdip Singh Chowhan
(supra) and Hemraj (supra) did not notice the statutory
provisions and other binding precedents.
32. The High Court in the impugned judgment had also
placed reliance upon a judgment in the case of Jagdip
Singh Chowhan (supra) which again was a case for
damages. This was carried to this Court by the State. The
said judgment has since been set aside by this Court vide
order dated 29.05.2012 passed in Civil Appeal No.3987
of 2006, State of Punjab vs. Jagdip Singh Chowhan. A
copy of the said order has been provided by Ms.Babbar,
learned counsel for the appellants. This Court observed that
there can be no dispute that in a suit for malicious
prosecution, ad valorem Court-fees is payable. The Court
proceeded to grant liberty to the counsel for the plaintiffrespondent to take appropriate steps for amendment of the
plaint or to make good the Court-fees. The said order is
reproduced hereunder:
“The present appeal is directed against the order
dated 14.10.2004 passed by the learned Single
24
Judge of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in
C.R.No.2933/2004 whereby the High Court has
permitted the plaintiffs- (respondent herein) to pay
the court fee on the tentative valuation of the suit
for the purpose of court fees.
It is worth noting, for the said purpose the suit was
valued at Rs.1,43,000/- though a decree was
sought for Rs.two crores approximately. There can
be no dispute that in a suit for malicious
prosecution, ad valorem court fee is payable. Faced
with this situation, the learned counsel for the
respondent No.1 could only state that he will file an
application for amendment before the trial Court
either restricting his claim to the amount on which
the court fee has been paid or may enhance the
claim beyond the said amount and will pay the ad
valorem court fee on the same. Recording such
statement of respondent No.1, we set aside the
order passed by the learned Single Judge and grant
him liberty to file the requisite amendment to bring
the plaint in order.
The appeal is accordingly disposed of with no order
as to costs.”

33. On behalf of the respondent, a submission was raised
relating to the final determination of issue No.3 by the Trial
Court vide judgment and order dated 28.02.2020 where the
Trial Court decided the issue against the defendants and in
favour of the plaintiff.
25
34. The said submission has no legs to stand for two
reasons: firstly, the said judgment had come subsequent to
the filing of the present appeal @ Special Leave Petition as
the judgment of the High Court is dated 11.08.2017 and
secondly, the Trial Court had dismissed the suit vide
judgment dated 28.02.2020 as such the State was not
required to challenge the finding on issue No.3. At the time
when Trial Court took the suit for final determination, the
subject-matter of issue No.3 was covered by the impugned
order of the High Court. As such, no other decision could
have been taken by the Trial Court. Moreover, for the reason
that the issue was already pending before this Court since
2018, much before the dismissal of the suit as such it was
not necessary for the State to challenge the said finding. Any
decision taken by the Trial Court would always remain
subject to final outcome of the appeal@ Special Leave
Petition which was pending since prior in point of time. To
say that the decision of present appeal would be purely
academic is therefore not acceptable. As such we find no
applicability of the two judgments in the case of M.P.
Shreevastava (supra) and Shanbhagakannu Bhattar
26
(supra) relied upon by the respondent. Apart from the above,
the finding on issue No.3 could also be questioned by the
State in its capacity as respondent during the hearing of the
appeal.
35. We are not going into the other questions raised by Ms.
Babbar regarding the institution of suit being abuse of the
process of law and we leave it open for the Appellate Court
to decide the said issue, if raised by the State.
36. The High Court, therefore, fell in error in setting aside
the order passed by Trial Court whereby it had granted time
to the plaintiff-respondent to make good the Court-fees
within a particular period failing which the plaint would stand
rejected.
37. For all the reasons recorded above, the appeal is
allowed. The judgment and order of the High Court dated
11.08.2017 is set aside and that of the Trial Court dated
10.11.2016 is restored. Since the suit itself had been finally
dismissed on 28.02.2020, (i) but, court fees was
nevertheless payable by the plaintiff-respondent on the
valuation, i.e., on Rs. 20 lakhs. Hence, it is directed that the
27
plaintiff-respondent shall make payment of such court fees
within four weeks from today; (ii) Moreover, the plaintiffrespondent shall further be required to make payment of
court fees in the appeal on the value he shall put on the
relief sought to be claimed in appeal. The Appellate Court
shall allow the plaintiff (who is appellant therein) to state the
valuation and grant him reasonable time to make payment
of court fees before proceeding further in appeal.
38. There shall be no order as to costs.
39. Pending application(s), if any, stand disposed of.
…………..........................J.
[DINESH MAHESHWARI]
………….........................J.
[VIKRAM NATH]
NEW DELHI
MARCH 16, 2022
28

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

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