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Present: Lvall Grant J.
RASIAH JOSEPH v. PUNCHY APPUHAMY.
34—C. E. Avissawella 12,843.
Court of Bequests—Jurisdiction—Claim for damages—Incidental exami-nation of title.
Where, in an action for damages in the Court of Bequests, theplaintiff's claim is within the jurisdiction' of that Court, the factthat it may be necessary to examine incidentally the title ofparties to land, which is over Bs. 300 in value, does not deprive theCourt of its jurisdiction.
PPEAL from an order of the Commissioner of Requests, Avissa-
Weerasooriya, for plaintiff, appellant.
Samatakoon, for substituted and added defendant, respondent.
July 7, 1927. Lyall Grant J.—
The plaintiff in this case sued the defendant in the Court ofRequests at Avissawella for a sum of Rs. 225 with, interest inrespect of loss and damage caused by the defendant having cutclown and removed 75 timber trees.
The defence set up was that the land upon which these treesstood was not the property of the plaintiff, but was temple landbelonging to the Mahadewale, Kandy, of which the defendantwas a tenant and caretaker. Another defendant, who was added,was the trustee of the Kandy Mahadewale. He bears out theclaim of the defendant and states that the land in question is of ahigher value than Rs. 300 and argues that consequently the Courtof Requests has no jurisdiction. Both parties were agreed that thevalue of the land was over Rs. 300, and the learned Commissionerdismissed plaintiff's action for want of jurisdiction.
On the question whether when a claim for damages in respect oftrespass or otherwise raises an incidental question of the ownershipof land above the value of Rs. 300, the Court of Requests' jurisdictionis ousted, there appear to have been divergent opinions expressedby this Court. In the case of Dingiri Appuhamy v. Appuhamy 1 Mr.Justice de Sampayo took the view that where the plaintiff averredtitle to a two-third share of a field and claiined Rs. 35 as damages,but where the defendant denied the plaintiff's title and the land was1 3 Court of Appeal Cases ST.
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admitted to be over Bs. 300 that jurisdiction was ousted. He heldthat in view of the pleadings the claim for damages depended onproof of title to the land, and therefore the Court of Bequests hadno jurisdiction to try the "case. On the other hand in a recent caseargued and decided on August 80, 1926, and bound in the SupremeCourt Minutes of that month (S. C. No. 126), Mr. JusticeJayewardene came to the conclusion that where the plaintiff'sclaim itself was within the jurisdiction of the Court of Bequests,the mere fact that it might be necessary for the Court to examinethe title of the parties to land, which was over Bs.i 800 in value,incidentally, and only for the purpose of ascertaining whetherthe plaintiff's claim is sustainable or not, does not deprive theCourt of its jurisdiction if the substantive claim is one within itsjurisdiction.
The section of the Courts Ordinance which defines the juris-diction of the Court of Requests is section 77. That sectionstages that every Court of Requests shall be a Court of record andshall have original jurisdiction, and shall have cognizance of andfull power to hear and determine all actions in which the debt,damage, or demand shall not exceed Rs. 300.
It appears to me that all that the Court of Requests can possiblydecide in this action is as to the validity or otherwise of the plaintiff’sright to recover from the defendant the sum of Rs. 225 with interestand costs. The mere fact that incidentally the Court may have togo into other matters which involve disputes relating to lands andinterests beyond the jurisdiction of the Court does not seem to meto be a sufficient reason for saying that the Court shall notdetermine a claim which is clearly within its jurisdiction. I do notthink that any opinion which the Court may incidentally finditself compelled to express as to the ownership of the land, the- value of which is more than Rs. 800, can operate as res judicataas it will not be ajudgmentof a competentCourt on a question
of the ownership ofthe.land;buiit seems tomethat a Courthas
always got full power to express opinions on relevant facts to theextent to which such opinion is necessary to enable it to come to aright conclusion in regard to the merits of the particular disputebefore it, that particular case being one within its jurisdiction. Ithink the Court ofRequestsherehas full powerto determinethe
question which the plaintiffhasput beforeit.Accordinglythe
decision of the learned Commissioner must be set aside with costsof appeal and the case remitted to him to be dealt with.
RASIAH JOSEPH v. PUNCHY APPUHAMY