Somasunderam v. Maniclcam.
1948Present: Dias and Basnayake JJ.
SOMASUNDERAM, Appellant, and MANICKAM, et al.,Respondents.S. C. 103— D. C. Point Pedro, 2,457.
Partition-—Pro-rata costs—Taxation of bill—Value of land—Actual value—Section 21 of Partition Ordinance.
For the purposes of taxation of bills of costs under section 21 of the PartitionOrdinance, the value of the property is its actual value in the open marketand not the value put upon it by the parties in their pleadings. i
i (1915) 18 N. L. R. 376.
DIAS J.—Somammderam v. Maniokam.
Appeal, from an order of the District Judge, Point Pedro.
C. Thiagalingam, -with S. Mahadevan, for the plaintiff, appellant.
H. W. Thambiah, with S. Sharvananda, for the defendants, respon-dents.
Cur. adv. wit.
March 8, 1948. Dias J.—
This is a partition action. In his plaint dated August, 1945, theplaintiff valued the subject matter of the action at Rs. 3,000. In theiranswer the defendants disputed this valuation. They asserted that theland was worth only Rs. 1,300. The value of the action was immaterialat the trial of the action, because, whether the corpus was worth Rs. 3,000or only Rs. 1,300, the District Court in either event had jurisdictionto try the case.
The other contest between the parties was whether the house on theland belonged to the defendants, or to the plaintiff. This difference wasamicably adjusted, and the action thereafter became an uncontestedpartition action. In this judgment the District Judge ordered the landto be sold. He ordered the plaintiff to pay to the defendants Rs. 42as the costs of the contest raised by him. He also directed that “ Theplaintiff will be entitled to the costs of this action pro rata ”.
As the decree was one for sale and not for partition, the Commissionerwas directed to value the land and forward his appraised value to theCourt. In June, 1946, the Commissioner fixed the value at Rs. 1,790.25.There is nothing to show that the plaintiff raised any question as to thecorrectness of that valuation. In September, 1946, the land was soldunder the final decree, and was purchased by the second defendant forRs. 1,810. It is significant that the plaintiff did not make any attemptto purchase the land for more than Rs. 1,810.
The plaintiff sought to tax his bill of costs under Class IV of the secondSchedule of the Civil Procedure Code, as for an action of the value ofRs. 3,000 and under Rs. 5,000. The Taxing Officer, however, taxed thebill under Class III treating the action as being one under Rs. 3,000in value. The plaintiff took the matter up in review under section 214of the Code to the District Judge, who is not the same officer who triedthe main action. The District Judge by his order dated December 20,1946, upheld the decision of the taxing officer. It is from that orderthat the present appeal is taken. It appears from the proceedingsin the lower Court that the parties did not given section 21 of the Parti-tion Ordinance the attention that it deserved. In appeal neithercounsel focussed his attention on that section by which in our view thepresent dispute can be solved.
Section 21 of the Partition Ordinance enacts that—
“ All bills of costs, whether between party and party or betweenproctor and client, in any action or proceeding for partition or sale. in the District Court, where the value of the property isunder three thousand rupees, shall be taxed by the Secretary of theCourt according to the rates specified in Class I of Part I of the
Sivarajaaingham v. S. I. Police, Point Pedro.
Second Schedule to the Civil Procedure Code, anything in the CivilProcedure Code or any other Ordinance to the contrary not-withstanding. ’ ’
The only portion of section 21 which requires interpretation for thepurpose of this appeal are the words “ in any action or proceeding forpartition or sale …. in the District Court, where the value ofthe property is under three thousand rupees ”. There is nothing in thiscontext which gives the words any special meaning. We thereforeadopt the only safe rule in construing a statute where we have nothingexcept the bare words, that is to give them their natural meaning andhold that the value contemplated by the Legislature is in our opinionthe actual value the property would fetch if sold in the open marketand not any artificial value claimed by the parties in their pleadings.The material date for purpose of deciding the value is the date of theinstitution of proceedings and not the date of taxation. There is noevidence that the property was worth Rs. 3,000 at the date the actionwas instituted. The onus of proving that value was on the plaintiff.He had not discharged his onus. In the absence of any evidence that theland is worth Rs. 3,000 and that its value has declined since the insti-tution of the action the only valuation before Court, viz., Rs. 1,810should be adopted for the purposes of taxation.
Costs should therefore be taxed in this case according to the ratesspecified in Class I of Part I of the Second Schedule to the CivilProcedure Code.
The appeal is dismissed with costs.
Basnayake J.—I agree.