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N. Nataraj v/s P. Kannaiyan (died) & Others

    C.R.P.(PD) No. 2764 of 2013 & M.P.No. 1 of 2013

    Decided On, 04 January 2019

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ABDUL QUDDHOSE

    For the Petitioner: V. Bhiman for M/s. Sampathkumar & Asso., Advocates. For the Respondents: R1 & R7, V. Sivakumar, Advocate, R2 to R6, No appearance.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: Civil Revision Petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India seeking to set aside the order dated 13.03.2013 made in I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 on the file of the learned III Additional District Munsif, Coimbatore.)

The instant revision has been filed challenging the order dated 13.03.2013 passed by the learned III Additional District Munsif Court, Coimbatore, in I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004.

Brief facts leading to the filing of the instant revision:

2. The petitioner is the first defendant in the suit O.S.No.788 of 2004. The suit O.S.No.788 of 2004

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was filed by P.Kannaiyan and Chandran claiming to be the president and member of the Gangawar Mahajana Trust respectively against the petitioner and other defendants seeking for a declaration and for an injunction. According to the plaintiffs in the suit, the petitioner does not have any right of interest in the two temples namely Arulmigu Mahaliamman Temple and Arulmigu Pattalamman Temple situated at Street No.3, Weddermenpet Street, Rangai Gowder Street, Coimbatore. The petitioner filed I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 raising a preliminary issue that the suit filed by the plaintiffs in O.S.No.788 of 2004 is undervalued.

3. According to the petitioner, the relief of declaration and injunction should be couched as one relief. Further according to the petitioner, the Court Fees Act provides a separate provision under Section 25(b) to value the relief of declaration and consequential relief of injunction as one relief. According to the petitioner, the subject matter of the suit should be valued at half of the market value of the property. According to the petitioner, if such a valuation is adopted, the plaintiffs’ temple and its properties which are located in the area of about 50 cents in the heart of the city, where one cent of land is valued at not less than Rs.5,00,000/-, the valuation of the subject matter would come to Rs.2.50 crores. According to the petitioner, under Section 25(b) of the Court Fees Act, the subject matter should be valued at half of the market value which should be Rs.1.25 crores. It is also the case of the petitioner that the plaintiffs also cannot claim exemption in the payment of Court fee as the temple is a private temple and not a public temple.

4. Based on the aforesaid averments, the petitioner filed I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 raising undervaluation of the suit as a preliminary issue. A counter was also filed by the plaintiffs in the suit in I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 filed by the petitioner. The Trial Court by its order dated 13.03.2013 dismissed I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 filed by the petitioner.

5. Aggrieved by the order of dismissal of I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004, the instant revision has been filed.

6. Heard Mr.V.Bhiman, learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr. V.Sivakumar, learned counsel for the first and seventh respondents. Despite service of notice on the remaining respondents, no one has entered appearance on their behalf.

Discussion:

7. The Trial Court has dismissed I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 filed by the petitioner raising undervaluation of the suit as a preliminary issue on the ground that temple properties cannot be valued. But it is the case of the petitioner that the suit schedule property belongs to a private temple and therefore no exemption can be granted for payment of Court fees to the plaintiffs in the suit O.S.No.788 of 2004. He has also pleaded in his written statement that the suit filed by the plaintiffs in O.S.No.788 of 2004 has been undervalued and the plaintiffs cannot claim any exemption in the payment of Court fee, as it is not a Public temple.

8. Since the Trial Court has dismissed I.A.No.596 of 2006 in O.S.No.788 of 2004 as early as on 13.03.2013 and further the petitioners having already filed their written statement in the suit raising amongst other defences, the defence relating to undervaluation of the suit, this Court is of the considered view that the issue of undervaluation of the suit can no longer be a preliminary issue in view of the long passage of time as the suit is of the year 2004 and Interlocutory Application was filed in the year 2006. This Court is of the view that the written statement having already been filed, the Trial Court will have to frame the issues if not already framed and after recording the oral and documentary evidence, dispose of the suit and if the Trial Court comes to the conclusion that the suit is undervalued and the Court does not have jurisdiction, return the plaint filed in O.S.No.788 of 2004 for presentation before the proper Court. This Court is also of the view that if the Trial Court comes to the conclusion that the suit has been properly valued and the Court has jurisdiction, the suit will have to be disposed of on merits after considering the pleadings, oral and documentary evidence placed on record before the Court.

9. In the light of the above observations, the following directions are passed by this Court:

(a) the Trial Court will have to frame issues in the suit O.S.No.788 of 2004, if not already framed and after recording the oral and documentary evidence let in by the parties to the suit dispose of the suit.

(b) If the Trial Court comes to the conclusion that the suit O.S.No.788 of 2004 is undervalued and the Court does not have jurisdiction, the Trial Court shall direct return of the plaint filed in O.S.No.788 of 2004 to the plaintiffs for presentation before the appropriate Court having jurisdiction to entertain the suit without adjudicating on the merits and demerits of the suit.

(c) If the Trial Court comes to the conclusion that the suit O.S.No.788 of 2004 is properly valued and the Court has the jurisdiction, the Trial Court shall dispose of the suit on merits after duly considering the pleadings, oral and documentary evidence placed on record by the parties to the suit.

(d) The Trial Court shall dispose of the suit O.S.No.788 of 2004 within a period of six months from the date of receipt of a copy of this Order.

10. With the aforesaid directions, this Civil Revision Petition is disposed of. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.
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