Court fee in a suit for possession of agricultural land converted to urban use

Court fee in a suit for partition in Maharashtra.

Section 6(v) and (vii) of the Bombay Court Fees Act, 1959 is as under:

“(6) Computation of fees payable in certain suits – The amount of fee payable under this Act in the suits next hereinafter mentioned shall be computed as follow:

(i) to (iv) xxx xxx xxx

(v) For the possession of land, houses and gardens – In suits for the possession of land, houses and gardens —
according to the value of the subject-matter; and such value shall be deemed to be where the subject-matter is a house or garden — according to the market value of the house or garden and where the subject-matter is land and –

(a) where the land is held on settlement for a period not exceeding thirty years and pays the full assessment to Government — a sum equal to forty times the survey assessment;

(b) Where the land is held on a permanent settlement, or on a settlement for any period exceeding thirty years, and pays full assessment to Government — a sum equal to eighty times the survey assessment; and

(c) where the whole or any part of the annual survey assessment is remitted — a sum computed under sub-paragraph (a) or sub-paragraph (b),as the case may be, in addition to eighty times the assessment or, the portion of assessment so remitted;

(vi) xxx xxx xxx

(vii) For share in joint property – In suit for partition and separate possession of a share of joint family property or of joint property, or to enforce a right to a share in any property on the ground that it is joint family property or joint property whether or not the plaintiff is in actual or constructive possession of the property of which he claims to be a co-parcener or co-owner-according to the value of the share in respect of which the suit is instituted;

Explanation:- For the purposes of this paragraph, if the property in which a share is claimed consists of or includes any land assessed to land revenue for the purpose of agriculture, the value of such land shall be deemed to be the value as determined under paragraph (v) of this section.

(viii) to (xii) xxx xxx xxx”

Conclusion of Supreme Court:

A reading of the above-reproduced provisions make it clear that in terms of the explanation appearing below Section 6(vii), the value of the land assessed to land revenue for the purpose of agriculture shall be deemed to be the value as determined under Section 6(v).

If the land sold by respondent No.2 to the appellant was agricultural, then the view taken by the trial Court and the learned Single Judge cannot be faulted. However, the averments contained in paragraphs 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the plaint leave no manner of doubt that despite the assertion of respondent No.1 that the suit property continues to be agricultural, it is clear that the same had already been converted into non-agricultural. The statement contained in
paragraph 5 of the plaint unmistakably shows that respondent No.2 had converted the suit property from agricultural to non-agricultural and the same was sold to the appellant as non-agricultural property. If that was not so, the competent authority would not have given permission to the appellant to raise construction over the suit
property.

In the premise aforesaid, we hold that the trial Court and the High Court committed grave error by holding that the valuation of the suit property done by respondent No.1 was correct and the trial Court had the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

[Source: Santosh Ramchandra Tadsare vs. Subhash Ranchandra Gujjar decided by SC on 18 March 2013]
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