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Ravindra Narayan Rajarshi and Ors. Vs. Rohini Ganpatrao Heblikar and Ors. - (High Court of Bombay) (31 Jul 2017)

Concept of notional valuation is not susceptible to monetary valuation



In present case, issue pertains to payment of Court fees under Maharashtra Court Fees Act. Plaintiffs i.e., Respondents, have filed respective suits for specific performance, declaration and injunction. These being Suits for specific performance, Plaintiffs have valued their suits ad-valorem to amount of consideration and their claim of possession in suit property. Besides, main prayer and other prayer for declaration, Plaintiffs valued suit under Section 6(iv)(j) of Bombay Court Fees Act. During pendency of suit, application under Order VII Rule 11 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC) was made that, Plaintiffs have failed to value suit correctly and they have not paid proper court fees as per provisions of Bombay Court Fees Act, which should be valued under Section 6(iv) (ha). Amendment was sought and prayer made that, Sale Deed dated 3rd May, 2007 executed by Defendant Nos. 1 to 6 in favour of Defendant Nos. 18 to 35 be declared void and not binding on him. Said application was rejected by trial Court and held that, suit was properly valued. Hence, present Civil Revision Applications.

Present suit is for specific performance and not merely for avoidance or cancellation of contract. Plaintiff is a non-executant to subsequent sale deed which was executed lis pendens. In view of ratio laid down by Supreme Court in the case of Suhrid Singh @ Sardool Singh, if a person is not an executant to a deed or agreement and seeks a declaration that, it is not binding on it as void, then, he is not required to pay ad-valorem Court fees on consideration amount of said agreement but is to be valued notionally. It is borne in mind that, Plaintiff is compelled to seek relief in respect of such deed and against transferee as property is transferred during pendency of suit. Insofar as that relief is concerned, it being a consequential relief of declaration is not susceptible to monetary consideration.

Court fees is to be levied depending on facts and prayers of case. Court Fees Act, 1879 is a Central Act and it is basically for purpose of collection of revenue to State. Thus, it is a one form of taxation. Court Fees Act is a fiscal statute. Though it is to be construed strictly, it is to be kept in mind that, Act was passed not to arm litigant with a weapon of technicality against his opponent but it is to collect revenue for benefit of State. Thus, object of court fee is to secure revenue and not to coerce litigant. Bombay Court Fees Act, 1885 is a State Act under umbrella of Central Act. Consistent with this object, Legislature has therefore, introduced concept of notional valuation which is not susceptible to monetary valuation. So also a provision of recovery of deficit court fee is made available and accordingly, power vests with Court under Section 149 of CPC. While appreciating transactions and payment of Court fees, principle laid down in case of Suhrid Singh is to be kept in mind. Principle laid down in case of Suhrid Singh is that, if the person is non-executant of the document and prays for the relief that the said document is declared to be void and not binding on him, then, he is not to be required to pay Court fees, is law of the land and is binding on this Court.

Case in hand is for specific performance and accordingly, Plaintiff has paid ad-valorem Court fees and therefore, consequential relief of declaration that subsequent sale deed is void and not binding on him is not susceptible to monetary consideration and it is rightly valued under Section 6(iv)(j) of Bombay Court Fees Act. Judge of trial Court has taken a correct view. Judgments of Bombay High Court in Prism Reality and of Supreme Court in Suhrid Singh @ Sardool Singh were not placed before him and his view is entirely based on ratio laid down in Dilip Bastimal Jain and Khanderao s/o. Bhujangrao Bhujangrao Babar, which is legal and right view. Hence, impugned order is maintained. Civil Revision Applications dismissed.

Relevant : Dilip Bastimal Jain vs. Baban Bhanudas Kamble and Ors.MANU/MH/0620/2001; Khanderao vs. Bharatbai and Ors. MANU/MH/1734/2009, Prism Reality vs. Govind Yashwnt Khalade MANU/MH/0090/2015


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