I 343 )
Present : De Sampayo J.
LEBBE v. BANDA et oX.
48—C. B. Qampola, 3,256.
Possessory action by lessee—Value of suit—Jurisdiction.
The value of the subject-matter of a possessory action for thepurpose of jurisdiction when the suit is brought by a lessee is notthe value of the unexpired term of the lease, but the value of theland itself.
fJ^iJEUbl facts appear from the judgment.
J. S. Jayawardene, for the defendants, appellants.
Oorloff (with him Bartholomeusz), for the plaintiff, respondent.
March 20, 1918. De Sampayo J.—
This case raises a question as to the value of the subject-matterof a possessory suit for the purpose of jurisdiction of the Court when,the suit is brought by a lessee. Upon a deed of lease dated April 6,1916, the plaintiff is the lessee of a land called Paragahaowitawatta,for a period of twenty years from the date of the lease, at a rentedof Bs. 5 a year, and he has brought this possessory suit against thedefendants on an allegation that he was forcibly ousted. If the valueof the land is to be calculated according to the rental at the usualnumber of years’ purchase, it is obviously below Rs. 300. Theonly evidence was that of the Korala, who valued the land with thehouse thereon above Rs. 300. There is no express finding as to thevalue, and the Court only considered the abstract question whetherthe jurisdiction of the Court should be determined by the value ofthe land itself, or by the value of the plaintiff’s interest therein aslessee, which is admittedly below Rs. 300 in value.
The defendants have objected to the jurisdiction of the Court ofRequests, on the ground that it is the value of the land itself thatshould be taken into consideration. The Commissioner in over-ruling the objection has relied on Silva v. Siyaris.1 That was a case-brought by a usufructuary mortgagee to be restored to possession,and the learned Judge who decided the case took care to point outthat it was not a possessory suit. John Sinno v. Julis Appu a isstill less applicable, because it was clearly an ordinary action brought
» (1909) 9 S. C. D. 64.s (1907) 10 N. L. B. 351.
( 344 )
by a lessee in ejectment on the strength of his lessor’s title. On theother hand, Wickremesinghe v. Jayasinghc1 which has been cited insupport of the objection to -the jurisdiction, is not a direct authorityon the point. I have looked into the original record, and find thatit is not a case by a lessee or by a person whose interest is anythingless than ownership. The Appellate Court had to consider anopinion expressed by the District Judge that the value of the rightclaimed was the value of one year’s possession before ouster, and itwas held that the right claimed was “ perpetual possession ” of theland, and that the action should be valued according to the valueof the land. Reference has also been made to my judgment inLeidohamy v. GoonetillekeJ3 where I remark that a possessory suitshould be valued according to the value of the subject-matter ofthe suit, that is to say, of the property of whicji possession is claimed.I venture to think that that is a correct view. In such a suit neitherthe title to the land nor the extent of the plaintiff’s interest thereinis involved. The suit is based solely on the fact of possession andwhether it be brought by the owner himself or by a lessee, thesubject-matter is the land. Consequently, in the case of a lessee,the jurisdiction of the Court cannot be determined merely by thevalue of the unexpired term of the lease.
The order of the Commissioner with regard to the jurisdiction ofthe Court of Requests, so far as the specific ground on which it hasbeen based is concerned, is, I think, erroneous. But, as I said, thequestion of fact as to the value of the land has still to be determineddefinitely, and the case should go back for that purpose. If uponthe material already in the record, or on such further evidence asthe parties may wish to call, the Commissioner finds that the landis no more than Rs. 300 in value the judgment appealed from willstand, but otherwise the plaintiff’s action will be dismissed and theplaintiff referred to an action in the District Court.
The case is remitted to the Court of Requests to be dealt with asabove indicated. Tbe costs of appeal and of the action will be inthe discretion of the Commissioner.
(2914) 18 N. L. R. 84.
* (1913) 5 Bat. N. C. 14.