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Report No. 236


2.1 At the outset, it may be stated that the Law Commission of India in its 189th Report (2004)4 recommended that having regard to the devaluation of rupee and increase in inflation, the rates of fixed court-fees as prescribed in Schedule 2 of the Court-fees Act 1870 need to be appropriately revised. It was also observed that ad valorem court-fees need not be revised in as much as the fee will be paid in proportion to the value of the claim which in any event would reflect the enhanced value of the claim after inflation. That means, those cases involving high stakes will attract higher court-fees as a consequence of ad valorem court-fee.

The recommendation was that in so far as the Union territories not covered by their respective Acts are concerned, it will be sufficient if the rates of court-fee as prescribed in the Court-fees Act 1870 be enhanced keeping in mind the devaluation of rupee over the years. The present Commission while reiterating the said views suggests that the maximum court-fee wherever prescribed should also be reasonably increased in view of long passage of time and the change of circumstances.

4 Law Commission of India, 189th Report on "Revision of Court Fees Structure" (2004), pages 96, 112-113

2.2 The Law Commission in its 220th Report (2009)5 stressed on the need to fix the maximum for the court-fees chargeable. In this context, it may be mentioned that in Delhi and in Chandigarh, there is no maximum prescribed. 2.3 Before proceeding to address the crucial issue, we may briefly recapitulate the position relating to the legislative powers of the Parliament and the State Legislatures vis-à-vis court-fees. The 189th Report has elaborately discussed this aspect and we would like to quote the excerpts therefrom:

"From the above entries, it is evident that the subject of Court-fees, so far it relates to Supreme Court, falls under Entry 77 of List I (Union List). Court-fees in High Courts and other Subordinate Courts, falls under Entry 3 of List II (State List).

Entry 96 of List I, Entry 66 of List II and Entry 47 of List III also deal with 'fees', but 'fees taken in any Court' is specifically excluded in these specific entries.

(a) Law on Court-fees payable in the High Court and subordinate Courts: It is necessary to mention here that the entry relating to the 'administration of justice', was originally in Entry 3 of List II. But by virtue of the Constitution (Forty-Second) Amendment Act, 1976, the said entry has been shifted to List III with effect from 3.1.1977. Though administration of justice now falls under Entry 11A of List III, the subject of 'fees taken in any court', which may be said to be related to administration of justice, does not fall under List III in view of the explicit bar under Entry 47 of List III mentioned above. The effect of this Constitutional amendment still remains the same i.e. the power to legislate on matters of court-fees remains in the competence of the State Legislatures, so far as the High Courts and Courts subordinate thereto are concerned.

Thus, as far as Parliament is concerned, under Art.246 (1) read with Entry 77 of List I, it can enact a law relating to Court-fees which is payable in Supreme Court, and under Art.246(4) read with Entry 3 of List II, it can enact a law for Court-fees payable in other Courts situated in any Union Territory. But, for High courts and other subordinate Courts exercising jurisdiction in any State, laws relating to Court-fees can only be made by the Legislature of a State as per Art.246(3) read with Entry 3 of List II."

5 Law Commission of India, 220th Report on "Need to fix Maximum Chargeable Court-fees in Subordinate Civil Courts" (2009), paragraph 3 "RECOMMENDATION".

Court-fees in Supreme Court vis--vis Corporate Litigation Back

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