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Cites 8 docs - [View All]
Section 7 in the Court-fees Act, 1870
the Court-fees Act, 1870
Section 9 in The Suits Valuation Act, 1887
Eastman Kodak Company vs M/S. M.R. Electronics And Others on 1 August, 1994
Commerclal Aviation & Travel ... vs Vimal Pannalal on 13 July, 1988
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Anjani Kumar Goenka & Anr vs Om Education Trust & Anr on 10 September, 2018
Canon Kabushiki Kaisha vs B. Mahajan And Ors. on 10 July, 2007

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Delhi High Court
Automatic Electric Limited vs R.K. Dhawan And Anr. on 17 October, 1994
Equivalent citations: 57 (1995) DLT 49
Author: V Jain
Bench: V Jain

JUDGMENT Vijender Jain, J.

(1) At the outset this Court took the objection that proper an adequate Court fees has not been paid and the plaint is deficient. This is a suit for permanent injunction restraining infringement, passing off, rendition of accounts of profits etc. The plaintiff claims to be a Company registered under the CompaniesAct. According to the case of the plaintiff in 1945the plaintiff adopted the trade mark'DIMMERSTAT' in relation to their goods. Plaintiff has incurred substantial expenses in sales promotion and advertising campaign pertaining to the goods bearing the trade mark 'DIMMERSTAT' and therefore it has been averred that the trademark of the plaintiff has earned reputation and good will. In paragraph 3of the plaint the plaintiff has given the turnover of sales of its product which in 1983-84 was approximately Rs. 10.49 crores and in 1993-94 Rs.31 crores. The suit has been filed by the plaintiff and it has been averred that defendants 1 and 2 are also engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling same kind of goods as has been manufactured and sold by the plaintiff. It has been averred that the defendants are using the trade mark 'DIMMER DOT' which is deceptively similar with the trademark of the plaintiff. A legal notice was issued by the plaintiff on 7/4/1994 to stop the wrongful user of the trade mark. On the basis of these averments plaintiff has valued the suit for Court fees and jurisdiction in the following manner :- "(I)for a decree for permanent injunction restraining infringement of trademark, this relief is valued for purposes of Court fees and jurisdiction atRs. 200.00 and Court fees of Rs. 20.00 is affixed thereon;(ii) for a decree for permanent injunction restraining passing off, this relief is valued for purposes of Court fees and jurisdiction at Rs. 200.00 and Court fees of Rs. 20.00is affixed thereon;(iii) for a decree for delivery of infringing goods, this relief is valued for purposes of Court fees and jurisdiction at Rs. 200.00and Court fees of Rs.20.00 is affixed thereon;(iv) for an order for rendition of accounts of profits earned by the defendants, this relief is valued for purposes of Court fees at Rs. 200.00 and Court fees of Rs. 20.00is affixed theredon;This relief is valued for purpose of jurisdiction under the provisions of Order7 Rule 2 Civil Procedure Code read with Section 7 of Court-fees Act, 1870 and Section 9 of the Suit Valuation Act, 1887 Along with Rules 3 and 4 of the Punjab & Haryana High Court Rules at Rs. 5,50,000.00 as the said amount could be found due on rendition ofaccounts of profits by the defendants. The plaintiff undertakes to pay such Additional Court fees as may be directed by this Court on the ascertainment of the amount so found due.Thus the suit is valued for the purpose of jurisdiction atRs.5,50,000.00and for the purpose of court fees at Rs. 800.00 and Court fees of Rs. 80.00 is affixed thereon.At the end of paragraph 14 of the plaint the plaintiff has averred that the relief is valued for purposes of jurisdiction under the provisions of Order 7 Rule 2 CPC read with Section 7 of the Court-fees Act, 1870 and Sec.9 of the Suits Valuation Act, 1887along with Rules 3 and 4 of the Punjab & Haryana High Court Rules at Rs.5.50,000.00 as the said amount could be found due on rendition of accounts of profits by the defendants. It has been further averred by the plaintiff that the plaintiff undertakes to pay such Additional Court-fees as may be directed by this Court on the ascertainment of the amount so found due. On the basis of this aforesaid valuation as contained in paragraph 14 of the plaint the plaintiff has valued the suit for purposes of jurisdiction at Rs. 5,50,000.00 and for purposes of Court fees at Rs.800.00 and Court fees of Rs. 80.00 has been paid on the plaint.

 (2) Mr. Aggarwal learned Counsel for the plaintiff has argued that in view of the amendment in the Punjab & Haryana High Court Rules and in view of Rules 3and 4 of the said amendment the plaintiff has got the right to fix any value for suits for rendition of accounts. The plaintiff valued this suit for purposes of jurisdiction at a figure which brought the suit within the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Court. For the purpose of present controversy Rule 4 is relevant which is as follows :-    "(I)Suits in which plaintiff in the plaint seeks to recover the amount which may be found due to the plaintiff in taking unsettled accounts between him and the defendant.(ii) Suits of either of the kinds described in Order Xx, Rule 13 of the Code of Civil Procedure:Value for the purpose (a) As determined by theof Court fee Court-fees Act, 1870.Value for the purpose (b) For the purposes of jurisdiction the Suits Valuation Act, 1887,and the Punjab Courts Act,1918, as valued by the plaintiff in the plaint, subject to determination by the Court at any stage of the trial."  

 (3) Mr. Aggarwal has further contended that this Rule itself provides that if at any stage of trial the Court is of the opinion from material on record or evidence produced that the suit is under valued the Court can order for making up the deficiency in Court fees but at the time of institution of the suit the law enjoins plaintiff the right to fix its own valuation for purposes of rendition of accounts which in this case he has valued at Rs. 200.00 and the valuation for purposes of jurisdiction at Rs. 5,50,000.00 which he is entitled to do in law. He has also invited the attention of this Court to a decision M/s Commercial Aviation & Travel Co. (Inc.) and Others v. Vimal Pannalal,  and on the basis of said authority Mr.Aggarwal has argued that the plaintiff could put his estimated value for purposes of jurisdiction and the grievance that the value for jurisdiction is higher would make no practical difference since the value for purpose of Court-fees could be different in view of the Rules being framed under Section 9 of the Suits Valuation Act and even if the value is fixed for jurisdiction at a higher figure jurisdiction will remain in thisCourt. In M/s. Commercial Aviation & Travel Co.(supra), the Court laid down that-    "16.The Full Bench noted the various words used in various parts of Order 7of the Code. Order 7 Rule l(i) of the Code speaks of the "value of the subjectmatter". Order 7 Rule 2 of the Code speaks of the "amount sued for".Paragraph (iv) of Section 7 of the Court-Fees Act speaks of, "the amount at which he values the relief". The Full Bench considered the entire scheme of0rder7of the Code Along with provisions of Section 7(iv) of the Court-fees Act,1870 and came to the conclusion that .....8.00that paragraph (iv) of Section 7 of the Court-fees Act gives a right to the plaintiff to place any value that he like son the relief he seeks and the Court has no power to interfere with the plaintiff'svalue. It was also held that this view is quite in conformity with the nature of the suit mentioned in Clauses (a) to (f) of paragraph (iv) of Section 7 of the Court-fees Act."  

(4) Relying his argument on the observations of the Division Bench Mr.Aggarwal has argued that paragraph (iv) of Section 7 of the Court-fees Act gives a right to the plaintiff to place any value that he likes on the relief for rendition of accounts,he seeks, and Court has no power to interfere with the plaintiff's valuation on suchrelief. Mr. Aggarwal has further cited M/s. Commercial Aviation and Travel Company and Others v. Mrs.Vimla Pannalal, in support of his submissions and has argued that the Supreme Court in M/s.Commercial Aviation Travel Co. (supra) has settled the controversy as in that case also it was held that the valuation for the relief of the rendition of accounts of the plaintiff was maintained by the Supreme Court. No doubt, there is no controversy regarding fixing of Court fees by the plaintiff on the relief of rendition of accounts and the choice is left to the plaintiff to exercise that right in a proper manner. In the case before me plaintiff has filed a suit essentially for seeking injunction, inter alia,alleging that the sale turnover of the plaintiff is Rs. 30 crores and he is seeking injunction in view of his trade mark being registered and in the alternative on the ground of passing off alleging that the trade mark of the defendant is deceptively similar to that of the plaintiff and a further pray(r). is also made for rendition of accounts for alleged infringement or passing off. At the first instance in paragraph14 of the plaint plaintiff has placed the valuation of the relief of rendition of accounts at Rs, 200.00 on which a Court fees of Rs. 20.00 has been paid. In the same breath in the same paragraph the plaintiff taking recourse to the provisions of Rules 3 and 4of the Punjab & Haryana High Court Rules which have been also adopted by the Delhi High Court has valued the relief for jurisdiction at Rs. 5,50,000.00. Plaintiff has taken the relief for rendition of accounts and placed its own valuation at Rs. 200.00on which Court fees of Rs. 20.00 has been paid. He has fixed the value for purposes of jurisdiction at Rs. 5,50,000.00 taking benefit of the amendment of Rules 3 and 4 of the Punjab & Haryana High Court Rules. This is simply done in order to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court as this Court will have pecuniary jurisdiction if the jurisdiction of the subject-matter is over Rs. 5 lacs, otherwise in the normal course the jurisdiction would lie with the Subordinate Judge, Delhi. No doubt, law provides that in case of relief for rendition of accounts when the amount is not ascertained a plaintiff cannot be asked to give a specific and ascertained figure of the amount on which relief is sought in the suit but that does not give a license to the plaintiff to place a figure which is ridiculously on the lower side, whimsical and demonstrativelyarbitrary. I would also like to mention that the peculiar situation has arisen in Delhi as most of the High Courts do not have Original Side jurisdiction in the country. The suit is filed to be maintained in this Court and that is why a figure of jurisdictional value is fixed at Rs. 5,50,000.00 so as to bring the suit in the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Original Side of Delhi High Court. There is no nexus rationale, objectivity or material before the plaintiff to fix the valuation except to oust the jurisdiction of the Court of the first instance, i.e. the Court of Subordinate Judge, Delhi. If the relief for rendition of accounts is not sought the plaintiff's suit which is essentially a suit for injunction as mentioned aforesaid to maintain that suit within the pecuniary jurisdiction of this Court the plaintiff has to pay Court fees at Rs. 5,50,000.00. The suits which emanate from the breach of legal obligations regarding copy right, trademark, passing off are essentially the suits where the first relief is sought is an injunction. The relief for rendition of accounts is to bring the suit within the ambit of Section 9 of the Suits Valuation Act, Court-fees Act read with Rules 3 and 4 of the Punjab& Haryana High Court Rules. The valuation is not only demonstratively arbitrary and whimsical but also mala fide. I would also like to observe that relying on Abdul Humid Shamsi v.Abdul Majid and Others , had the occasion to deal with this controversy in Eastman Kodak Company v. M/s. Af.R. Electronics and Ors.1994 Iii Apex Decisions (Delhi) 927.

(5) The intention of the Legislature in enacting this provision was not to burden the plaintiff with Court fee to be paid on an amount which is unspecified andunascertained. As it would be only fair to have Court fee paid by the plaintiff on amount which the plaintiff feels in his bona fide and reasonable belief to be the amount at which he assesses the value of the relief so that he can ultimately pay the amount of actual Court fee after rendition of account when a decree in terms thereof is passed. But it does not give the plaintiff a right to undervalue the relief, put up an arbitrary or ridiculously low amount in order to escape the payment of Court fee at the time of institution of the suit.

(6) The Supreme Court in M/s. Commercial Aviation and Travel Co.(supra) also observed thus:- "WE are also of the view that the plaintiff cannot whimsically choose a ridiculous figure for filing the suit most arbitrarily where there are positive materials and/or objective standards of valuation of the relief appearing on the face of the plaint. These materials or objective standards will also enable the Court to determine the valuation for the purpose of Order Vii, Rule 11 (b) of the Code of Civil Procedure. Indeed, in Abdul Hamid Shamsi's case, it has been noticed by this Court that the plaintiff has laid a claim to a sum of Rs.1.26,796.72, besides another sum of over Rs. 84,000.00 as his share in the profit for a particular period by reference to the proceeding of the Income-tax Department mentioned in paragraph Ii of the plaint. Further, a copy of the profit and loss account for the calendar year 1979 was annexed by the plaintiff to the additional affidavit filed on his behalf before this Court, which also gave positive indication as to the valuation of the relief. The plaintiff in that case valued the suit without making any reference whatsoever to those materials or objective standards available to him and in the context of these facts, this Court made the above observation. But, if there be no material or objective standard,the plaintiff's valuation has to be accepted."Thus, I am also of the view that the plaintiff can not whimsically choose a ridiculously low figure for filing the suit and artificially give pecuniary jurisdiction to this Court.In the plaint before me in sub-para (iv) of para 14 the plaintiff has valued the relief for rendition of accounts at Rs. 200.00 and a Court fees of Rs. 20.00 has been affixed thereon and for purpose of jurisdiction the same has been valued at Rs. 5,50,000.00with averment that the said amount could be found due on rendition of accounts on profits by the defendants. In my considered opinion the valuation for purposes of jurisdiction is without any objective standard and that being the situation even in view of the averment made by the plaintiff in the plaint this Court has not to go into any other material at this stage but to direct the plaintiff to make good the deficiency in Court fees on the amount of Rs. 5,50,000.00 within a period of one week failing which the plaint shall be rejected in terms of the provision of Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure.