Arbitrary valuation of the suit for the purpose of court fee is not permitted: High Court of Delhi
Where the objective and positive material for the correct valuation of the relief claimed is available in the relief itself and petitioners have claimed a specific amount in their respective Suit. They cannot therefore, arbitrarily value the suit for the purposes of court fee and pay a lesser amount as court fee. This was held in SHIV KUMAR GUPTA v. POOJA & ANR and DINESH KUMA v. LEKH RAJ & ORS [CM(M) 106/2021 & CM No.127/2021] in the High Court of Delhi by single bench consisting of JUSTICE NAVIN CHAWLA.
Facts of the case are that suits filed by the petitioners are claiming damages qua their alleged defamation. Petition has been filed by the petitioners challenging the order passed by the learned Trial Court. The court had ordered to deposit the deficit court fee, the petitioners are to pay the court fee on the amount claimed in the Suit.
The counsel of petitioner contended, that the petitioners are entitled to put their own valuation and pay court-fee at such value, with an undertaking to deposit more court fee on actual damage awarded. Reliance was placed on the judgments of the Supreme Court judgement, Shiv Kumar Sharma v. Santosh Kumari.
The High Court relied on the precedent laid down in the judgment of Supreme Court, Hari Gokal Jewellers v. Satish Kapur, wherein it was held that, “Another facet of the present case is that the plaintiff had himself given a notice for recovery of a definite amount and so as he maintained in the plaint by paying the 12% interest to the said amount and valuing the suit at a sum of Rs. 18 lakhs. The plaintiff is certainly master of the suit as a discretion to value the suit for purposes of court fee and jurisdiction but this discretion of the plaintiff has to be regulated by the well settled cannons of law. Where the plaintiff in his notice and even then in the plaint claims a definite sum, which in the notice dated 7th October, 2004 was claimed beyond any shadow of doubt, the suit for rendition of accounts could not be instituted by the said plaintiff.”
The court also referred to the judgement of M/s. R & D Enterprises (Export) & Anr. v. Air France & Anr, ILR (1998) I Delhi 528, where in a claim made under the Carriage by Air Act, 1972, it was observed that,“In simple suits for money, there is no provision or warrant to fix a tentative value of the court fee in the plaint.”
Considering the precedents and the facts of the case court held that, reliance placed by the counsels for the petitioners on the Shiv Kumar Sharma (supra) was ill-founded as the case dealt with a claim for mesne profits. Since the present suits are claiming specific amount of damages/compensation the court fee has to be paid on such amount, thus dismissing the petitions.