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Report No. 189

Criminal Justice is sovereign function: no Court fee is payable

Administration of justice has two broad wings: (1) Civil Justice and (2) Criminal Justice. The Law Commission in its 127th Report on 'Resource Allocation for Infrastructural Service in Judicial Administration' (1988) discussed distinction between civil and criminal justice system. The Commission observed at para 5.1 as follows:

"The distinguishing feature between the civil justice system and criminal justice system lies in the fact that civil justice system provides fora for resolution of disputes between individuals, between individuals and the State, and even between the State and the States where a party complains of wrong being done to it and seeks redress. Administration of criminal justice system partakes the character of a regulatory mechanism of the society whereby the State enforces discipline in the society by providing fora for investigation of crime and punishment."

The obligations of the State in respect of administration of civil and criminal justice materially differ. In respect of the obligation of the State so far as it relates to administration of criminal justice, the Law Commission in its 128th Report on 'Cost of Litigation' (1988), categorically stated that administration of criminal justice is the obligatory duty of the State as part of its sovereign functions. It is also stated in the Report that as it is, being part of the sovereign function of the State, no fee can be levied for performing the same and also because the system does not render any service to the litigant. The Commission stated at para 3.11 as follows:

"It is the State which must ensure internal peace. It is part of its duty to adopt regulatory measures and it is equally part of its duty to set up forum for determining whether a violation of regulatory measures has or has not taken place and a punishment need or need not be imposed. This is the obligatory duty of the State as part of its sovereign functions. This can be broadly comprehended in the expression 'administration of criminal justice'. Ordinarily this being the part of the sovereign functions of the State, no fee can be levied for performing the same and also because the system does not render any service to the litigant."

Earlier the Law Commission in 14th Report also recommended (page 508) that the cost of the administration of public justice (criminal justice) should be borne entirely by the State. The Law Commission in 127th Report also stated (at para 5.1) that it is the duty and obligation of the State to set up Courts for administration of criminal justice. The State must pay the entire costs of administration of criminal justice.



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