Tuesday, 26 May 2015

DELHI HIGH COURT STRUCK DOWN COURT FEES: 2013

DELHI HIGH COURT HAS RECENTLY STRUCK DOWN THE HIKE IN COURT FEES
Noting that the “exorbitant” hike in court fee violated the fundamental right of access to justice and discriminated against poor litigants, the Delhi High Court struck down the Court Fee (Delhi Amendment) Act 2012.
“We have held that the Delhi legislative Assembly did not have the legislative competence to amend the Court Fee Act, 1870. We have also held that the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, adversely impacts the Part – III rights and results in violation of Article 38 and 39A of the Constitution of India. For thesereasons…the Court Fee (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, is hereby declared as invalid and ultra vires the Constitution and, therefore, struck down,” the bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J R Midha had said.
The bench also ordered the government to refund the court fee collected from litigants based on prescriptions contained in the Act. The court held that it was the “constitutional duty of the state …to provide adequate finances to the institution to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary” and that the “burden of bearing the cost….cannot ideally be transferred to the citizens”.
The Delhi government had passed the amendment in the budget session of the Assembly, stating that court fee had not been revised since 1958. The hike was meant to raise the revenue through court fee from Rs 50 crore to over Rs.450 crore.
The amendment had increased the fee for filing a writ petition before the Delhi High Court from Rs.5 to Rs.100.To file a bail application, the fee was hiked from Rs.1 to Rs.100 for district courts and from Rs.3 to Rs.250 for the High Court.
The amendment, which came into force from 1st August, 2012, had been greeted with protests by lawyers. The order has been passed on the petition filed by the Delhi High Court Bar Association.

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