Bharat Bhushan Gupta v. Pratap Narain Verma & Anr.

Name of the Case:  Bharat Bhushan Gupta v. Pratap Narain Verma & Anr.
Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 4577 OF 2022 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 9780 of 2019)
Judges Name: Hon’ble Judges Dinesh Maheshwar J and Vikram Nath J
Order dated: 16.06.2022

Facts of the case:

  1. The Plaintiff filed the suit for mandatory and prohibitory injunction and recovery of damages. The plaintiff raised three-rooms shed on the plot in 1983-84 and was since utilised. The Defendant No. 1, elder brother of the Plaintiff, made a request for using the plot for storage purpose for his contractor business. The Defendant No. 1 was accepted as a free licensee at will on the plot. In 1989-90, Defendant 1 approached the Plaintiff with request to permit the Defendant 2, who was working under Defendant No. 1 as a Munshi, to reside in the shed, till the time Plaintiff would require the shed for his use, and Plaintiff allowed the same. 
  2. The Defendants did not remove themselves and their possessions from the property when the Plaintiff later intended to raise construction and requested that they do so. Despite having his own double-story house built and purchased directly across from the plot at issue, Defendant No. 2 did not remove himself or his possessions from the property at issue. Despite repeated assurances, Defendant No. 1 did not remove himself with his building materials even though he had stopped operating as a contractor since 2005 and did not need the plot any more. 
  3. In 2016, the Plaintiff sent legal letters requesting that the Defendants vacate the property and pay damages for their unauthorised use and occupation of the plot. He discovered the Defendants were going to build on the plot in question and to establish third party rights in order to undermine the Plaintiff’s legal claims when he visited the plot. 
  4. The plaintiff brought the lawsuit after suspecting wrongdoing. Defendant No. 2 claimed in court that the plot did not belong to the plaintiff and that the lawsuit was brought about using false documents in an effort to seize the land. The value of the assets at the time the lawsuit was filed, according to the Defendant No. 2’s application under Order VII Rule 11, indicated the fact that the Trial Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, as was conceded by the Appellant. This application was turned down, and the High Court then heard an appeal. 
  5. The High Court determined that it was completely arbitrary to value the lawsuit at Rs 250 for each of the injunction reliefs for the purposes of court fees and jurisdiction. It instructed for the plaint to be returned and lodged in the proper court. 
  6. Aggrieved by the order of the High Court, the Appellant approached Supreme Court.

Supreme Court observed/held as follows:

  • The Bench held, “It remains trite that it is the nature of relief claimed in the plaint which is decisive of the question of suit valuation. As a necessary corollary, the market value does not become decisive of suit valuation merely because an immovable property is the subject-matter of litigation. The market value of the immovable property involved in the litigation might have its relevance depending on the nature of relief claimed but, ultimately, the valuation of any particular suit has to be decided primarily with reference to the relief/reliefs claimed.” 
  • The Court also held that “we may simply put the upshot in other words that the High Court has totally omitted to consider the applicable provision of law i.e., Section 7(iv)(d) of the Court Fees Act as also the principles of law stated in the very same decision being referred to and relied upon in the impugned order itself.”

The Supreme Court, therefore, set aside the impugned order dated 18.03.2019 and restored the Judgement of the Trial Court dated 11.07.2018, and thus allowed the Appeal.


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