SIVA SUPRAMANIAM, J.—Nagarajah v. J ebaralnarajah
1967Present: Siva Supramaniam, J.A. NAGARAJAH, Petitioner, and P. A. JEBARATNA-RAJAH, Respondent
S. C. 516/6&—Application for Revision and/or Restitutio inIntegrum in C. R. Colombo, 87945
Landlord and tenant—Action for rent, ejectment and damages—Jurisdiction of Court ofRequests—Extent—Courts Ordinance, as amended by Act No. 5 of 1964, s. 75—Civil Procedure Code, ss. 35 (I), 36 (2).
Where, ina contract of monthly tenancy, the rent per month was Rs. 60, andthe landlord sued the tenant in the Court of Requests for recovery of possessionof the rented premises and also claimed, as arrears of rent, a sum of Rs. 720 andcontinuing damages—
Held, that the fact that, in addition to the claim for ejectment valued at themonthly rental of Rs. 60, a sum of Rs. 720 was claimed as arrears of rent couldnot oust the jurisdiction of the Court of Requests. “ Since the test of juris-diction it the value of tho right of possession, the claim for arrears of rentshould bo regarded as incidental and subsidiary and its inclusion cannot oustthe jurisdiction of tho Court so long as the.amount claimed at the date of actiondoes rot exceed Rs. 750.”
“ Where several causes of action are joined in the same action in conformitywith the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, a Court of Requests has juris-dicticn to hear and determine such an action provided the total value of thecause (or causes) of action relating to a debt, damage or demand does notexceei Rs. 750 and the total value of the cause (or causes) of action relating tointeret in land does not exceed Rs. 300.”
Hal further, that where the plaintiff claims continuing damages for beingkeptout of possession of any land, the relief as regards damages which theCouc of Requests can grant is not restricted to the ordinary limit of its juris-dietbn. The Court of Requests had, therefore, jursidiction in the present caseto eiter a decree for a sum of Rs. 3,300 as rent and damages up to the end ofApd 19G5.
A.PPUCATION by way of Revision and/or Restitutio in Integrum toget as&e as null and void a decree entered by the Court of Requests,Colombo.
Elm Vannitamby, for defendant-petitioner.
S. Sharvananda, for plaintiff-respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
January 16,1967. Siva Supramaniam, J.—
The defendant-petitioner has made an application by way of Revisionand/or Restitutio in Integrum to set aside the decree entered in this caseas null and void and to dismiss the plaintiff-respondent’s action or inHfi alternative to remit the case to the lower Court for trial in due course.
SIVA SUPRAMANIAM, J.—Nagarajah v. Jsbarainarajah
The facts leading up to the present application are as follows :•—Thedefendant-petitioner was, during the relevant period, a monthly tenantunder the respondent in respect of certain premises, which were subject tothe provisions of the Rent Restriction Ordinance, on a monthly rental ofRs. 60. By a notice dated 25-2-64 the respondent terminated thetenancy with effect from 1-6-64. On 12-6-64 the respondent institutedthis action for the ejectment of the petitioner from the said premises andfor the recovery of a sum of Rupees seven hundred and twenty as arrearsof rent and continuing damages at Rs. 60 per month from 1-6-64. Itwas averred in the plaint that although the petitioner had been a tenantfrom 1st March 1962 he had paid only a total sum of Rs. 8r0 as rent andwas in arrear in a sum of Rs. 750 up to the end of May .964. It wasfurther averred that the petitioner had sub-let the premisei without therespondent’s written consent. The respondent restricted her claim inrespect of the arrears of rent to Rs. 720. The petitioner ii his answerdenied these averments and stated that he had paid rent atRs. 200 permonth although the authorised rental was Rs. 55 per month aid that thetotal sum paid by him was Rs. 2,680. He claimed a sum olRs. 975 inreconvention from the respondent. The case was fixed for tral on 11thMay 1965. On that date the petitioner who was present in je:son andwas unrepresented admitted to the Court that he was in arrean of rentand that a sum of Rs. 3,300 was due to the respondent from hin as rentand damages up to the end of April 1965. The petitioner enterd into acompromise with the respondent in terms of which he consnted tojudgment being entered against him for ejectment from the preirses andfor the recovery of a sum of Rs. 3,300 and further damages at R. 61 '62per month from 1st May 1965 subject to the condition that ifie paideach month’s damages of Rs. 61-62 together with a sum of Rs. 7150 outof the arrears of rent and damages on or before the 5th day of eaclmonthcommencing from 1st June 1965 without making default, writ o' eject-ment should not issue till 31st December 1968. Decree was nteredunder S. 408 of the Civil Procedure Code in accordance with tb saidcompromise. The petitioner continued in occupation of the premses interms of the said consent decree and paid the instalments that fd duefrom month to month until March 1966. He defaulted in respect >f thesums payable on 5th April 1966. On the respondent’s applicatia theCourt issued writs for the recovery of the balance amount due undr thedecree and for ejectment of the petitioner from the premises. Thepetitioner then made an application for stay of execution and the mttercame up for inquiry on 23rd June 1966. On that date both partiesvererepresented by Proctors and they entered into a further comproaisewhich was recorded by the Court in the following terms :—
“ It is agreed that the defendant should deposit in Court Rs. 4H-36being damages and instalments due on 5.4.66, 5.5.66 and 5.6.66onor before 26.6.66. The June damages and instalment to be depositedon 5.7.66 in Court and thereafter the sum of 139T2 on the 5th of thefollowing months as from 5.8.66 to be deposited in Court. The
SIVA STTPRAMANIAM, J.—Nagarajah v. Jebaratnarajah477
application for writ already allowed be issued to the Fiscal but not to
be executed till 31.12.66. In default of any one of these payments
writ to be executed forthwith without any notice.”
The petitioner defaulted again in regard to the said payments and interms of the aforesaid compromise entered into on 23.6.66 the res-pondent will bo entitled to have the writs executed by the Fiscal. On7.12.66 the petitioner filed the present application in this Court.
The grounds an which lie seeks to have the decree entered on lltliMay 1965 set aside and all subsequent proceedings quashed may besummarised a? follows :—
(а)That tie Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the plaint in this
cas< as the subject matter of the action exceeded the monetaryjurisdiction of the Court of Requests.
(б)(i) That the Court had no jurisdiction to enter a decree in acco-
rdance with the compromise entered into between the parties onlltli May 1965 as the amount decreed to be payable by thepetitioner to the respondent was for an amount in excess of themonetary jurisdiction of the Court of Requests.
fi) That the decree entered in pursuance of tho compromise wasbad as the compromise included matters outside the scope ofthe action, and
(c] That the compromise was not binding on him as “ his consent was .not real and valid and was extracted by putting him into fear ofimmediate ejectment if he did not consent.”
AfTegards the first ground learned Counsel for the petitioner submittedt)tt the plaint contained in fact two causes of action, one for the recovery</a sum of Rs. 720 as arrears of rent and the other for ejectment of the^titioner and for recovery of possession of the premises along withontinuing damages. He argued that the value of the second cause ofAction would be the amount of the monthly rent and that the Court of^Requests had no jurisdiction to hear and determine an action in whichthe aggregate monetary value of the causes of action amounts to Rs. 780.
Under S. 75 of the Courts Ordinance as amended by Act No. 5 of 1964a Court of Requests has jurisdiction to hear and determine, the followingclasses of actions :—
Actions in which the debt, damage or demand shall not exceed
Hypothecary actions in which the amount claimed shall not exceed
Actions in which the title to, interest in or right to the possession of
land shall be in dispute provided that the value of the land orthe particular share, right or interest in dispute shall not exceedRs. 300, and
478SIVA SUPRAMANIAM, J.—Nagarajak v. Jebaratnarajah
(id) Actions for partition or sale of land when the value of the land doesnot exceed Rs. 300.
An action by a landlord for ejectment of the tenant from the leasedpremises on the termination of tho contract of tenancy will fall underclass (c). It was held by a Divisional Bench of this Court in the case ofBanda v. Menika 1 that the test of jurisdiction in such a case is thevalue of the land or interest in dispute irrespective of any damages orother relief c1 aimed on the cause of action. Where the action is one forejectment of a monthly tenant, “ the value of the right, of possessioninvolved is the rent or profit which might be due if the monthly tenancycontinued ”—per Do Sampayo J. in Heioavitarana v. Marifor 2.
In the instant case, the rent per month was Rs. CO/- and tie action forrecovery of possession of the premises was therefore within thejurisdictionof the Court of Requests. Does the fact that a sum of Ri. 720 wasalso claimed as arrears of rent oust the jurisdiction of the Coun?
In an action for the recovery of immovable property, S. 35 (.) of theCivil Procedure Code permits (unless with tho leave of the Cout) onlythe following claims to be made :—
(а)Claims in respect of mesne profits or arrears of rent in respectof the
property claimed ;
(б)Damages for breach of any contract under which the propeiy or
any part thereof is held; or consequential on the trespass hichconstitutes the cause of action ; and
(c) Claims by a mortgagee to enforce any of the remedies under-,hemortgage.
As stated by De Sampayo J. in Banda v. Menika 1 at page 280 “ Inaland case the subject matter is the land and the main purpose of thaction is its recovery. ”“ The. claims which may be included in such a
action are incidental claims as are recognised as naturally arisingin connection with land cases by the Civil Procedure Code itself (S. 35)subject always to the limitation of the Courts jurisdiction ”—per BertramC. J. Ibid, at page 283. Since the test of jurisdiction is the value of theright of possession, the claim for arrears of rent should be regarded asincidental and subsidiary and its inclusion cannot oust the jurisdictionof the Court so long as the amount claimed at the date of action does notexceed Rs. 750.
If, on the other hand, the claim for arrears of rent is not regardedas incidental and subsidiary to the principal cause of action, viz., therecovery of possession of the land, but is treated as a separate andindependent cause of action, the position will be that the plaintiff hasjoined in his action two causes of action (such joinder being permittedby S. 35 (i) of the Civil Procedure Code) as follows :—
(a) A cause of action falling within the category of “ Debt, damage ordemand ” valued at Rs. 720, and
1 (1919) 21 N. L. R. 279 F.B.
(1916) 19 N. L. R. 239 at p. 241.
SIVA SUPRAMANTAM, J.—Nagarajah v. J ebaralruirajah479
A cause of action falling within the category of an interest in landvalued at Rs. 60.
In terms of S. 36 (2) of the Civil Procedure Code the value of theaggregate subject matters is Rs. 780.
Is the jurisdiction of the Court of Requests ousted in cases in whichthe value of the aggregate subject matters exceeds Rs. 750 ? Section 75of the Courts Ordinance provides that the Court of Requests has jurisdic-tion in money cases in which “ the debt, damage or demand” does notexceed Rs. 750. It also provides that the Court of Requests has juris-diction in land cases in which the value of the interest does not exceedRs. 300. It does not, however, provide that the value of the aggregatesubject matters should not exceed Rs. 750 in order to enable the Courtof Requests to exercise jurisdiction. Nor is there any other provisionof law which imposes such a limitation.
I am therefore of the opinion that where several causes of action arejoined in the same action in conformity with the provisions of tha CivilProcedure Code, a Court of Requests has jurisdiction to hear and deter-mine such an action provided the total value of tho cause (or causes) ofaction relating to a debt, damage or demand does not exceed Rs. 750and'the total value of the cause'(or causes) of action relating to interestin land does not exceed Rs. 300. This view finds support in the followingpassage in the judgment of Bertram C.J. in Banda v. Menika. (Ibid.page 283):—“ It is no doubt a singular result that it should bo possible tobring in conjunction a claim of land worth Rs. 300 and a further incidentalmonetary claim to the same amount, but there is nothing in the sectionto prevent such claims from being combined ….”.
For the foregoing reasons, I hold that the Court of Requests hadjurisdiction to entertain the plaint in the instant case.
The next point urged by Counsel for the petitioner was that, notwith-standing the petitioner’s consent, the decree entered was bad since theamount payable under the decree was in excess of the jurisdiction of theCourt of Requests. There can be no question but that if tho Court hadno jurisdiction the parties cannot, by their consent, confer jurisdiction.In terms of the compromise, the petitioner admitted liability in a sum ofRs. 3,300“ as rent and damages up to the end of April 1965 ”. It is
submitted that the sum of Rs. 3,300 included a sum payable by thepetitioner to the respondent on account of certain repairs effected tothe premises and that that claim was outside the scope of the action and-could not therefore have been included in the compromise. The recordhowever does not show the breakdown of the sum of Rs. 3,300 althoughthere is an admission of liability on account of repairs. It is now settled. law that where the plaintiff claims continuing damages for being kept outof possession of any land, the relief as regards damages which the Court ofRequests can grant is not restricted to the ordinary limit of its jurisdic-tion—Pedris v. Mohideen1. Ex facie, the Court had jurisdictionto enter a decree for a sum of Rs. 3,300 as rent and damages. In view1 (1023) 25 N. L. B. 105 F.B.
480.SIVA SUPKAMANIAM, J.—Nagarajah v. Jebaratnarajah
of the petitioner’s admission on the trial date that he was in arrear ofrent, tho respondent would have been entitled to a decree for ejectmentof the petitioner forthwith from the premises. But in view of the peti-tioner’s admission of liability in a sum of Rs. 3,300 as rent and damagesand his undertaking to liquidate that sum by monthly instalments, therespondent agreed to allow the petitioner to continue in occupation of thepremises till December 19uS provided there was no default in the payments.The petitioner, having enjoyed the benefit of tho decree entered inpursuance of the compromise and having continued in occupation of thepremises for over one and a half years is now estopped from questioningthe validity of tho decree on the ground that the sum of Rs. 3,300included an amount which fell outside the scope of the action. Thesecond ground of the application therefore fails.
The last ground urged, namely, that the petitioner’s “ consent to thecompromise was not real and valid and was extracted by putting himinto fear of immediate ejectment ” is without any merit. According tothe averments in the petition the petitioner agreed to the terms of thecompromise because he was not in a position to proceed with the trial ashis Counsel and Proctor had refused to appear for him on that date as hehad failed to pay their balance fees. The fact that the petitioner enteredinto a compromise because he anticipated that decree would be enteredagainst him if the case proceeded to trial on that date and that he wouldbo ejected forthwith from the premises does not render the compromiseinvalid. The complete absence of bonafides on the part of the petitioneris shown by tho fact that although the decree was entered on 11th May,1965 and a second compromise was entered into on 23rd June 1966 hehas waited until the approach of the date on which he has to vacate thepremises to challenge the validity of the original compromise and of thedecree.
I dismiss the petitioner’s application with costs.
A. NAGARAJAH, Petitioner, and P.A. JEBARATNA RAJAH, Respondent