Tirath S. Thakur, J.
1. This appeal arises out of a Judgment and Decree passed by the I Additional City Civil Judge, Bangalore, in O.S. No. 4164/1986, which happened to be a suit for declaration with consequential relief of possession. One of the issues that the Trial Court framed on the basis of the pleadings before it related to the sufficiency of the Court Fee paid on the plaint filed by the appellant. While dismissing the suit on merits, the Trial Court recorded a clear finding to the effect that the Court Fee paid by the plaintiff was insufficient and that the plaintiff is liable to pay the same on the market value of the suit property, which value was held to be at Rs. 65/- per sq. ft.
2. In the present appeal filed against the said Judgment and Decree, the Office has raised two folded objections. The first objection relates to the non-filing of the certified copy of the decree sheet of the Trial Court, while the second objection relates to the non-payment of Court fee on the Memo of appeal.
3. Appearing for the appellant Mr. Kumar argued that the Trial Court had declined to draw up a Decree till such time the appellant deposited the deficit Court fee before it. The non-production of the certified copy of the decree was in that view explained and could not constitute a valid objection according to learned Counsel. On the question of the appellant's liability to pay Court fee, Mr. Kumar strenuously argued that the suit had to be valued in terms of Section 24 read with Section 7 of the Karnataka Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1958. He contended that in cases where the prayer made in the plaint is for declaration and for possession of the property to which the declaration relates, Court fee has to be computed on the market value of the property or Rs. 1,000/-whichever was higher. The market value of the property was in turn to be decided in terms of Section 7 of the Act. He drew our attention to Section 7(2)(b) to argue that where the suit land was an entire estate or a definite share of an estate paying annual revenue to Government, the market value of the property shall be deemed to be twelve and a half times the revenue so payable. The land in the instant case, according to Mr. Kumar was a definite share of an estate assessed to land revenue with the result that the market value of the said land had to be by fiction of law equivalent to twelve and a half times the revenue payable for the same. The Trial Court was, according to the learned Counsel, in error in holding that the payment of Court fee in terms of Section 24 read with Section 7(2)(b) was insufficient and in determining fee on the actual market value of the land assessed by reference to the norms fixed by the registering authority.
4. Since the issue that arose for consideration related to payment of Court fee, we had by our Order dated 09.12.2003 issued a notice to Smt. Shobha Patil, Government Advocate in charge of civil matters. Mrs. Patil who appeared in response to the said notice has drawn our attention to the Provisions of Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. She in particular relied upon Section 4 of the said Act which inter alia deals with inclusion and exclusion of areas in or from a 'larger urban area'. She submitted that since the suit land had admittedly come within the Bangalore Municipal Corporation limits in terms of a notification issued much earlier to the filing of the suit, consequences of such inclusion would in terms of Section 4(4) follow. It was contended that one of the consequences, which Section 4(4) of the Karnataka Municipal Act, 1976 envisages is the application of all taxes levied under the Act or under any other law for the time being in force to the additional area so added. With the inclusion of the suit property in the Corporation limits, the liability if any which the owner of the land may have had towards payment of land revenue ceased and the property became subject to taxes and levies applicable under the provisions of Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, 1976. She also drew our attention to the provision of Sections 103 and 110 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, in support of her submission that the Corporation was under an obligation to levy a tax on buildings or lands or both situated within its limits referred to in the Act as property tax. Section 110 of the Act, argued Mrs. Patil, deals with general exemptions and inter alia provides that lands which are registered as lands used for the agricultural purpose in the revenue Accounts of the Government and are actually used for cultivation of crops shall remain exempted from the property tax. It was submitted that the mere fact that a certain land was registered in the revenue records of the Government as agricultural land did not mean that such land was exempted from payment of property tax or that it continued to be liable to pay land revenue. On the contrary, for an exemption under the Corporation's Act, it was essential that the land is not only registered as agricultural land, but is actually also be used for cultivation of crops.
5. We have given our anxious consideration to the submissions made at the Bar. It is not disputed that the suit property stands included within the Corporation limits in terms of a notification issued much earlier to the filing of the suit. As a result of such I inclusion, the taxes applicable within the Corporation limits would by operation of law and in particular Section 4 Sub-section 4 of the Municipal Corporation Act become applicable to the extended area also. Even assuming that the land in question was agricultural land before its inclusion in the Corporation limits, the same would not necessarily mean that it either continued to pay land revenue nor would such land be exempted from payment of property tax under the said Act. As rightly pointed out by Mrs. Patil, Section 110 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, exempts the payment of property tax qua only such lands as are registered to be agricultural lands in revenue records of Government and as are actually used for cultivation of crops. Stated conversely just because certain land included in the Corporation limits is registered or used for cultivation purposes would not imply that the said land continues to pay land revenue under the Land Revenue Act. On the contrary, Land Revenue Act would cease to be applicable no sooner the land is brought within the Corporation limits.
6. There is another angle from which the issue can be viewed. Section 7 of the Karnataka Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1958 creates a legal fiction regarding the market value of lands that form an entire estate or a definite share of an estate are concerned. A closer reading of Section 7(2)(b) would show that not only should the land be an entire estate or a definite share of an estate, but it must be paying annual revenue to the Government. The expression "paying annual revenue to the Government" in Section 7(2)(b) is significant and in our opinion implies that the liability to pay land revenue must be clear and subsisting one. In cases where such liability ceases to exist on account of incorporation of the area within the limits of a Municipal Corporation, the land cannot be said to be paying annual revenue to the Government. That is because the liability to pay any such revenue must be deemed to have ceased from the moment the land is included in the extended Corporation limits.
7. The appellant has in his own deposition before the Trial Court clearly admitted that he was not paying any land revenue for the land in question. That statement is understandable for after the inclusion of the suit land in the Corporation limits, the question of the appellant or any person claiming to be the owner of the property paying any land revenue did not arise.
8. The only other aspect argued by Mr. Kumar is that the Trial Court had without any basis held that the market value of the property was Rs. 65/- per sq.ft. That finding having been challenged in the appeal, the appellant could not be asked to pay the fee payable on the basis thereof.
9. We do not for the present intend to express any opinion about the correctness of the finding regarding the actual market value of the suit property. All that we need is that a finding having been recorded regarding the appellant's liability to pay the deficit Court fee, the appropriate course for the appellant is to make up the deficiency before the Trial Court as also in the present appeal. Any payment so made shall remain subject to the ultimate result of the appeal including the question as to regarding the true market value of the property for the purposes of such payment. We make it clear that the payment if found to be in excess of what is lawfully recoverable by the appellant shall be refunded to him under Section 11(4) of the Karnataka Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1958.
10. We accordingly uphold the Office objection and direct that the appellant shall pay the deficit Court fee in terms of the Orders passed by the Trial Court within eight weeks from today and produce the certified copy of the decree sheet drawn by the said Court upon such payment. The appellant shall also during this period pay the deficit Court fee on the Memo of Appeal in this Court. Any such payment shall however remain subject to the result of the appeal and the final view that the Court may take in regard to the extent of appellant's liability.