New Delhi: The Supreme Court and High Courts should charge a higher fee from corporate commercial bodies for settling their disputes and give a fee-waiver to poor and illiterate litigants, a House panel has said while pressing for a differential court fee system.
“The Committee draws the attention of the executive and the judiciary to arrive at a decision regarding differential court fees for the commercial or corporate or company matters immediately and amend the Supreme Court Rules, High Court Rules and other court fees Acts accordingly,” the parliamentary standing committee on Law and Justice said.
In a report presented in Parliament, the Committee’s chairman E.M.S. Natchiappan frowned at the preference that corporate bodies get in courts while a common litigant waits for justice for years.
“Early hearing and disposals of cases by the courts in corporate cases only delay the cases of ordinary citizens as they take valuable court time within minimum court fees, therefore, there is a strong case for a differential court fee for the corporate sector,” said Natchiappan.
In a scenario when the judicial system is clogged by the huge number of cases, preference to corporate cases that too on minimum court fees may amount to taking away the time meant for the common man, he said.
The corporate bodies could easily get their disputes resolved through the methods of Arbitration and Conciliation. However, arbitration may involve higher cost. For this reason also the corporate bodies make use of the judicial infrastructure,” the panel said.
However, while recourse to judicial infrastructure cannot be denied there is no harm if higher court fees is levied because the state incurs huge expenses in maintaining the entire judicial infrastructure, it said.
Natchiappan said as per the information furnished by the Supreme Court, the total stamp and court fee collected by the apex court in 2006 and 2007 was Rs1.20 crore and Rs1.17 crore respectively.
“If the differential court fees is applied for the corporate cases that will only add to the Supreme Court revenue,” he said.
As per the Constitution all money and fees collected by the Supreme Court forms part of the consolidated fund of India which is supposed to be spent by the State, among other things, on providing free legal aid or for ensuring that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities, the panel said in its 28th report.