The State Of Punjab vs Dev Brat Sharma on 16 March, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

The State Of Punjab vs Dev Brat Sharma on 16 March, 2022

Author: Dinesh Maheshwari

Bench: Dinesh Maheshwari, Vikram Nath

                                                                          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)

                                                        JUDGMENT

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
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Rajni Mukhi
Date: 2022.03.16
with Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure 1 after setting
19:12:24 IST
Reason:

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 others 2,

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, 1870 3 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 Court-

fees. 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 defendants-

appellants. 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 Bhattar 15.

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 subject-
matter 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 accounts-

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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 sub-
sections 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 plaintiff-

respondent 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 [email protected] 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

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(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

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plaintiff-respondent shall make payment of such court fees

within four weeks from today; (ii) Moreover, the plaintiff-

respondent 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

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