Lakshmi Ammal Vs. Madhava Krishnan (K.
N.) & Ors  INSC 124 (7 August 1978)
REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J)
CITATION: 1978 AIR 1607 1979 SCR (1) 68 1978
SCC (4) 15
Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, (Central
Act) Section 17-D-Read Wit/l Civil Procedure Code, (Act V) 1908 order VII Rules
1 (i) and 11 (b)-Duty of the Court regarding the Court fee to be paid .
The appellant paid the correct court fee
under Section 37(2) of the Madras Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act clearly
alleging in para 14 of the plaint that she is in joint possession and is
seeking partition and separate possession of her half share in the suit
properties as heir of deceased Paramayee. The preliminary objection as to the correct
court fee payable raised and taken up resulted in the final appeal before this
Allowing the appeal by Special Leave, the
HELD: (a) Courts should be anxious to grapple
with the real issues and not spend their energies on peripheral ones.
[68H, 69A] (b) Court fee, if it seriously
restricts the right of a person to seek his remedies in Courts of justice
should be strictly construed. Since access to justice is the basis of the legal
system, where there is a doubt, reasonable of course, the benefit must go to
him who says that the lesser court fee alone be paid. [69A] In the instant
case, the court fee that is payable is under s.37(2) of the State Act, which
corresponds to Art.
17-D of the Court Fees & Suits Valuation
Central Act, which is the predecessor legislation on the subject. [69C]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1264 of 1978.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and
order dated 11-8-1976. Of the Madras High Court in CRP. No. 2084/76.
K. S. Ramamurthy, A. T. M. Sampath, S.
Gopalakrishna and A. N. Ramjani for the Appellant.
K. Jayaram and K. A. Bala Subramaniam and K.
Ram Kumar for the Respondents.
ORDER Leave granted.
It is unfortunate that long years have been
spent by the courts below on a combat between two parties on the question of
court fee leaving the real issues to be fought between them to come up
leisurely. Two things have to be made clear. Courts should be anxious to 69
grapple with the real issues and not spend their energies on peripheral A ones.
Secondly, court fee, if it seriously restricts the rights of a person to seek
his remedies in courts of justice, should be strictly construed. After all
access to justice is the basis of the legal system. In that view, where there
is a doubt, reasonable of course, the benefit must go to him who says that the
lesser court fee alone be paid.
In this particular case there is hardly any
difficulty in holding that the plaintiff in paragraph 14 of the plaint has
clearly alleged that sh., is in joint possession and is seeking partition and
separate possession of her half share in the suit properties as heir of
Obviously, the court fee that is payable is
as she has claimed, namely under sec. 37(2) which corresponds to Art.
17(b) of the Central Act, which is the
predecessor legislation on the subject. We allow the appeal and send the case
back to the trial court and direct that court to proceed with the suit
expeditiously. We make it clear that our decision on the question of court fee
does not have any implications on the merits including the validity or
otherwise of the Will. No costs.