Report No. 189
7. Pondicherry - As mentioned above, the Legislative Assembly of Pondicherry Union Territory has enacted 'Pondicherry Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act, 1972'. The Court Fees Act, 1870, which was applicable in Pondicherry, has been repealed by section 72 of the Pondicherry Act, mentioned above.
To sum up the conclusions from the above survey of extant legislation, both Central and State:
(i) 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. Many 60States have amended the Court Fees Act, 1870. Some of the States have even repealed the Central Act in their State and enacted a new Act for Court fees.
(ii) 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 to other Courts situated in any Union Territory.
(iii) 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 State as per Art.246(3) read with Entry 3 of List II.
(iv) The Supreme Court Rules which include rules relating to the Court fees payable in the Supreme Court are subject to any law made by the Parliament.
(v) As regards Union Territories, Parliament can enact any law under Article 246(4) and the President of India may also make regulations under Article 240 .
Having examined the basic constitutional and legislative framework within which laws relating to court fees are enacted and enforced, we will now proceed to consider the legal issues that arise in the context of attempts at altering the court fee structure through legislative measures either by the Centre or the States. In doing so, it is important first to understand the nature of the levy and its justification in the context of the constitutional right of access to justice.