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Court Fees Act: All You Need to Know

Right to Justice is “A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT” around the world. Every citizen has the right to access justice, and it is the State’s primary duty to provide justice.

The government levies a court fee on people seeking a judicial remedy through litigation. The court fee is the charge for the administration of justice.

There was a high rate of court fees, on the one hand, preventing frivolous litigants but, on the other hand, discouraging genuine litigants. So, it becomes necessary to determine the rate of court fees diligently.

So, to determine the court fee in India, the Court Fees Act of 1870 got enacted. The court fee varies as per state, and it also depends upon the nature of the dispute.

History of Court Fees Act, 1870

The payment system of court fees for adjudication of cases evolved only after establishing the courts in India. During the Colonial era, Britishers introduced the concept of court fees. It came into existence in Bengal through Regulation 38 of 1795.

The rate of stamp fees leviable in courts and offices was beyond the local jurisdiction of the ordinary civil jurisdiction of the High Courts of Judicature of Fort William in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. It became necessary to reduce the rates of court fees on the institution of the civil suits.

Thus, a comprehensive bill, known as the Court Fee Bill, 1870, got introduced in the Legislature. Presently, it is known as the Court Fees Act, 1870.

Scope and Objective of the Court Fees Act, 1870

The Court Fees Act 1870 was passed to prescribe the fees to be paid for the case. The act does not have its Preamble signifying its purpose to be ascertained. However, there’s no doubt that the main objective of the Act is to levy fees for the services rendered by the Court.

The Act provides the amount of fees payable and how the court fees are determined. It also signifies the documents that are not required to get stamped.

Importance of court fees

Justice is something that should never come with a price tag. But to make sure that the courts function smoothly, minimal monetary support should be provided to the judiciary. Currently, the court fees are to manage the administrative charges.

Due to increased cases, it became difficult for the court to manage those cases. The reason for which the court fees came into existence was to prevent vexatious litigation. The money earned through court fees is used only for the administrative work in the court.

Ad Valorem court fees

Ad Valorem Court Fees means according to the valuation. Ad Valorem duties are estimated at a certain percentage upon the valuation of the property instead of fixed or specific duties.

Calculation of court fees

Section 7 of the Court Fees Act, 1870, contemplates three types of Valuation of the subject matter of a suit.

  • By valuation based on its market value
  • By ascribing to the subject matter an artificial value simply on the certain fixed calculation rule
  • By requiring the plaintiff to value the relief he seeks.

This section is only applicable where the ad valorem fee is payable.

Rules for calculation of the court fees

  • Suits for the claim of money: In a case for money, the court fee gets computed upon the amount claimed in the lawsuit.
  • Suits for maintenance and annuities or other sums payable periodically: It is ten times the amount proclaimed to pay in a year.
  • Suits for movable property where the subject has market value: The fee is as per the market value on the date of presenting the suit.
  • Suits for possession of land, building or garden: The fee is per the market value or net profit*15, whichever is high.
  • Suits for Pre-emption: If the suit is instituted under Muslim Personal Law, then the court fee is computed according to the market value of the land.
  • Suits for Partition: The calculation is as per the market value of the share concerning which the suit has been instituted.
  • Suits for the assignee’s interest of land revenue: It is fifteen times of net profit.
  • Suits to set aside a land attachment: The fee is per the amount the land gets attached.
  • Suits to redeem the mortgaged property and for foreclosing: The court fee is as per the principal amount.
  • Suits for injunction or a right to some benefit arising out of the land: The plaintiff states the amount he values the relief in such a suit.

Payment of the court fees

The Court Fees Act states that all kinds of court fees levied under the Act should be paid through stamps, and it is the general way to pay court fees throughout the country.

The state government is empowered to govern the types of stamps used to pay court fees. Section 26 of the Act specifies whether the stamps should be adhesive or impressed is to be decided by the appropriate government and publishes such direction in the official gazette from time to time.

The term ‘appropriate government’ as per section 1A means the state government in the case regarding the matters of the High Court.

Methods of stamping documents requiring the court fee

There are three methods available for stamping the document:

  1. Stamp vendors on every court premises sell adhesive and judicial paper stamps.
  2. On the court premises, treasuries are present where stamp paper and stamps are issued for payment.

    In both methods, payment is made in cash to obtain stamps.

  3. The option of making the payment through E-Court Fee Payment

The facility of E-Court Fee Payment is only introduced only in the following states:

  • Haryana
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Punjab
  • Maharashtra
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Jharkhand
  • Chandigarh
  • Delhi
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Uttar Pradesh

Non-payment or underpayment of court fees

The Presiding Judge gives the direction on what to do if the court receives an underpaid document by mistake.

Per Section 28 of the Court Fees Act, 1870, the court may direct to make payment of the due court fee. Non-payment or underpayment of the court fee generally affects the proceedings, and it might affect the proceeding if the amount of the court fee is not duly paid even after the direction of the court.

Court Fees for Civil Suits in India

Court fees for a civil suit in India are a nominal percentage of the total value of the court claim or the value of the suit. The Requisite amount of court fees to be paid is different for different types of suits.

Rejection of plaint

As per Order VII Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, there are six circumstances under which the plaint gets rejected. There are the following grounds upon which the plaint can get rejected:

  1. Cause of Action: The plaint must have a cause of action. The cause of action in the plaint signifies the reason behind the institution of the suit. If there is no cause of action in the plaint, then the court can reject the plaint.
  2. Joint Cause of Action: The plaint would not be joined or heard together except if the court permits or the different cause of action is brought together in the suit, but they cannot be combined.
  3. Undervalued relief: If the amount claimed in the plaint is undervalued, the claim should be corrected within the stipulated time.
  4. Insufficiently Stamped: The relief claimed in the plaint is proper, but the plaint is not duly stamped.
  5. The suit is barred by any statute: The plaint can be rejected if the suit is barred by any statute or is barred by limitation.
  6. If the duplicate copy is not filed: It is required to submit a duplicate copy of the plaint along with the original. If the plaintiff fails to submit a copy of the suit, the court can reject the plaint.

One among them is insufficiently stamped plaint. When the plaint is not duly stamped in a civil case, the court gives a fixed time to pay the court fees and duly stamp the plaint. Failing to pay such an amount may result in the rejection of the plaint.

The court grants the extension of the period only when the court is convinced of the cause for not paying the court fees.

Court fee as per the value of the suit

Following are examples of the number of court fees paid as per the value of the suit:

  • When the suit value exceeds Rs. 1.50.000/- – 1,55,000/- the court fee paid is Rs. 1700/-.
  • When the suit value exceeds Rs. 3,00.000/- – 3,05,000/- the court fee paid is Rs. 2450/-.
  • When the suit value exceeds Rs. 4,00.000/- – 4,05,000/- the court fee paid is Rs. 2950/-.

Court Fees Act in the different states

West Bengal Court Fees Act

The West Bengal Court Fees Act, 1970, is the act to amend and consolidate the law related to the court fees in the State of West Bengal. The Act applies to the whole state of West Bengal.

The Act’s provisions do not apply to fees or stamps that relate to the documents presented or to be presented before any officer that serves under the Central Government.

Maharashtra Court Fees Act

The Maharashtra Court Fees Act, 1959, is the act to amend and consolidate the law related to the fees taken in the courts. The Act applies to the State of Maharashtra.

The Act also consolidates and amends the law related to the public offences and fees taken concerning certain issues in the State of Bombay. However, it does not amend the entries that fall under Entry 77 and 96 of List 1 mentioned in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

The Act’s provisions do not apply to fees or stamps that relate to the documents presented or to be presented before any officer that serves under the Central Government.

Rajasthan Court Fees Act

The Rajasthan Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1961, is an act to amend and consolidate the law related to the court fees and the valuation of suits in the State of Rajasthan. The Act applies to the state of Rajasthan.

The Act’s provisions do not apply to fees or stamps that relate to the documents presented or to be presented before any officer operating under the Central Government.

Karnataka Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1958

On 1st November 1956, after the reorganisation of the state of Karnataka, there were several Court Fees Act in force.

These laws differ from each other in various aspects. Thus, laws were needed to bring uniformity to the law and the court fees and suit the valuation rate throughout the state. It was desirous of having one Act for both suit valuation and court fees. Thus the court fees act and the suit valuations act in force were repealed. And The Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1958, came into force.

Himachal Pradesh Court Fees Act, 1968

The Himachal Pradesh Court Fees Act, 1968, received assent from the President on 30th April 1968 and was published in the Rajpatra, Himachal Pradesh, on 29th October 1968. The act extends to the whole State of Himachal Pradesh.

Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation act, 1965

The Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1965, was enacted to amend and consolidate the law relating to the court fees and valuation of suits in Tamil Nadu. The Act got first published in the Fort St. George Gazette Extraordinary on 16th May 1955.

Kerala Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1959

The Kerala Court Fees And Suit Valuation Act, 1959, amends and consolidates the law relating to the court fees and suit valuation in Kerala. The act applies to the whole state of Kerala. However, the provision of the Act does not apply to the documents presented or are to be presented before the officer that serves under the Central Government.

Conclusion

The court fee is the percentage of the total value of the subject matter of the suit. The amount of a court fee is different for every suit. It is merely a way to cover the administrative costs of the judicial process. It can also be seen as a way to protect the revenue of the State.

Every litigant must pay the court fees. What becomes most difficult is calculating the amount of court you should pay. The court fees vary from state to state and are paid as per the Court Fees Act, 1870. However, to make the court fee calculation easy, Legal Practice Management software may help lawyers calculate the Court fee for civil cases directly.

The Court Fee Act, 1870 is a fiscal enactment that got enacted to shield or protect the state’s revenue. Even the government has to pay the court fees similar to any other party approaching the court.

FAQs

What is the court fee?

The court fee is a certain percentage of the total value of the subject matter of the suit. It is a fee imposed on the litigant to contest a case in a court of law.

Does the amount of court fee to be paid vary from State to State?

Yes, the court fee is governed by the State Legislation, and the court fees to be paid may vary from state to state.

What happens if the court fee is not paid or is underpaid?

If the court fee is not paid or is underpaid, according to Section 28 of the Court Fees Act, the judge or head officer can give direction to pay the due amount of the court fee. It does not affect the proceeding of the court in any manner.

What are multifarious suits?

Multifarious suits are the suits in which distinct reliefs are sought separately on the same cause of action on which a court fee is levied on aggregated value of the reliefs.

About Author

Anshita Surana, born in the year 1999 in Guwahati, Assam and brought up in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, where I completed my elementary and secondary education from the CBSE board.

Currently, Pursuing B.B.A.LL.B(H) from K. R. Mangalam University, Gurugram.

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