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DON SIM AN v. JOHANIS et al.
D. 0., Colombo, 8,059.
Crown grant—Rule of Civil Law—Jurisdiction as to title acquired from theCrown—Overvaluing of claim to bring case within jurisdiction of theDistrict Court—The Courts Ordinance, s. 74.
Semble, per BonSKP, C.J.—That the rule of the Civil I-aw, that apurchaser from the Government acquired by the grant a good title, islaw in this Island at the present day.
The practice of parties overvaluing their claims in order tobring them within the jurisdiction of the District Court is one yhic.hshould be discouraged, and District Judges, where they have suspicionof its being followed, should require evidence of the value of the landwhich is the subject of action, and enforce the provisions of section 74 ofthe Courts Ordinance.
HE facts of this case sufficiently appear in the judgment ofBonsek, C.J.
Sampayo, for appellant.
Dornhorst, for respondent.
2nd August, 1898. Bonsek, C.J.—
This is an action ret vindioatio to establish title to a smallportion of land, two roods in extent, situate in a village in theDistrict of Colombo. In this action the plaintiff has to makeout a title. He proved that in 1881 he obtained a Crown grantfor this identical piece of land. The defendants did not disputethe fact that the Crown in 1S81 did grant this land to plaintiff;but they maintained that the Crown had no right or title so todeal with the land, and that at the time of this Crown grant theland belonged to themselves and their predecessors in title byvirtue of certain conveyances, or at any rate by virtue of posses-sion for the statutory period.
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It is very inconvenient that we should go behind the Crowngrant. It seems to me that the rule of the Civil Law—that apurchaser from the Government acquired by the grant a good titleand was, in the words of the rescript of the Emperor Zeno, statim.sectitus—was based on sound policy and tended to establish titles-and to diminish litigation. However, in the present case it is not.necessary to decide whether that rule is law at the present day,for I am of opinion that the defendants have failed to make outthat they ever were owners of this land, or that they have been inpossession of it for the statutory period.
The reasoning cf the Acting District Judge on the facts com-mends itself to my mind, and I must affirm this decision.
It appears that the consideration paid to Government was Rs. 7,and I haye a strong suspicion that the value of this land was notsuch as to warrant this action being brought in the DistrictCourt. Although there is a statement in the plaint that thevalue of the land was Rs. 200, there is no evidence in theseproceedings of its present value, or to what use it has been putof late years. I have said I have a strong suspicion that its valueis much less than that stated in the plaint. Section 74 of TheCourts Ordinance, No. 1 of 1889, provides that, if actions arecommenced in a District Court which might have been com-menced in a Court of Requests, the plaintiff shall not be entitledto any costs except such as the District Judge may see fit to give—a very proper provision to keep down the cost of litigation.
This case will, therefore, be sent back to the District Court totake evidence as to the value of the land, and to act, in awardingcosts, according to the result of such inquiry. I have heardexperienced Judges of District Courts say that the practice iscommon of parties overvaluing their claims in order that theymay take them out of the jurisdiction of the Courts of Requests.This practice, if it exists, should be discouraged: and I think itwould be well for District Judges, in cases where they have anysuspicion of its being followed, to require evidence of the valueof the land which is the subject of the action.
I am quite prepared to affirm the judgment for the reasonsgiven by the District Judge.
The remission of the record in order that the District Judgemay satisfy himself of the value of the land at the time of theaction meets with my entire concurrence.
District Judges are, I think, apt to forget the wholesome pro-visions of section 74 of the Jurisdiction Ordinance, No. 1 of 1889.
DON SIM AN V. JOHANIS et al.