Md Mukhlesur Rahman :
It is our study that the laws relating to valuation of suits and payment of court fees in various types of suits of this country, i.e. the Suit Valuation Act, 1887 and the Court-fees Act, 1870, are very much technical, complicated and intricate. Besides, so far our study, there are no direct provisions respecting ascertainment of value of suits in respect of several varieties of suits for establishing various types of rights in service matters which are to be filed in civil courts. For that reason, numerous types of practices/traditions had been, even somewhere has been, followed in the country. For the said reasons, it had been being practiced in our country that the suit for declaration that the plaintiff's suspension/dismissal from service, and/or suit for mandatory injunction for reinstatement him in the service and/or payment of arrear salaries would fall u/s. 7 para (i) or (iii) of Court-fees Act and thereby plaintiff would had to value his suit at an amount as per his salary's basic's last year's (i.e. 12 month's) total amount's 15 times and had to pay an ad valorem court fees upon this value; that is to say the plaintiff, who is distressed due to driven from service, had to pay a huge amount of court-fees for his suit for establishment of his right in the service.
So far our query, we find no judicial pronouncement early to 2008 in our country on this issue; and even we do not know whether there is any foreign authority on this point. But on 5-6-2008, the present Hon'ble Chief Justice of Bangladesh Mr Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, when he was Judge of the Hon'ble High Court Division of the Supreme Court, gave an authoritative and epoch-making judgment on this issue in the case of Country Director International Bank of Reconstruction and Development vs Ismat Zerin Khan reported in 14 MLR 61, and which decision has already been upheld by the Appellate Division too as reported in 18BLT (AD) 1, and which is a ratio decidendi in the country now.
This decision brought a new age in the field that such suits for establishment any right in service do not fall u/s. 7 para (i), (ii) or (iii) of the Court-fees Act; rather it falls u/s. 7 (iv) (c) of Court-fees Act. Therefore, such categories of suits having no objective standard of valuation, it is the plaintiff's will what will-value his suit. In our little knowledge" and I beg pardon making reference, we may say that in the said judgment his Lordship by his scholar and vivid interpretation clearly showed us what the statutes are in the concerned field and how those should be applied.
Now we may place the very judgments in concise herein bellow:
Plaintiff filed the suit for declaration that non-confirmation of her appointment and termination of her employment is illegal; by amendment she, included prayer for mandatory injection directing the defendants to pay her emoluments.
Upon such amendment the plaintiff valued the suit at Tk, 1,000. Defendants alleged that there is objective standard of valuation for the relief and the plaintiff is required to pay ad valorem court fees on the basis of her salaries.
The learned Assistant Judge observed that the plaintiff did not pray for any specified amount of salary and the therefore objective standard of valuation was ascertainable for the relief claimed. Held: Plaintiff has sought for some declarations and prayed for mandatory injunction in the declaratory form. The suit does not falls within meaning of suits u/s. 7 para (i) or-(ii); rather it falls u/s. 7 (iv) (c) of Court-fees Act and as such plaintiff, has rightly valued the suit. Because, there is no objective standard of valuation available in the relief claimed.
If any objection is raised as to the payment of court fees, if the suit falls within provisions of para (iv) of Clause (c) of Section 7; the Court should accept the value of the relief stated in the plaint, both for the purposes of court fees as well as for the purposes of determining the jurisdiction of the Court to try the suit, 14 MLR 61, NB. This decision, was upheld by the Appellate Division as reported in 18 BLT (AD) 1.
The HCD also held that "there is no objective standard of valuation available in the reliefs claimed". The learned advocate for petitioner submits that the HCD committed illegality in holding that there is no objective standard of valuation of the suit having regard to the nature of the prayer sought for recovery of arrear salaries by way of mandatory injunction. Held: The HCD upon correct assessment of the materials on record arrived at a correct decision, 18 BLT (AD) 1.
We may conclude this study saying that his lordship Mr. Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha has brought a remarkable clarification by his aforementioned authority judgment in making valuation in suits for service-matters and thereby opened an easy access to justice for the upset citizens of the Republic.
We do not know whether this ratio decidendi/ precedent has been noticed by and have been being followed in all the courts of the country. But, as per mandate of Article 111 of the Constitution, we must follow this law as declared by the Supreme Court, and thereby shall serve the nation better.
NB. The discussions in this essay relates only to the suits in the civil courts; but the suits which are exclusively triable by the Administrative Tribunals, shall be filed therein and these laws have no application of these provisions in the said Tribunal. However, The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1980 being special law and there being no specific provision for valuation of suits and court fees for suits in the Administrative Tribunals, the provisions of Article 12(viii) of Schedule II to the Court Fees Act shall apply before those Tribunals, and thereby a fixed court fee of Tk. 300 shall have to be paid there.