New Delhi: A parliamentary committee on Wednesday proposed a hike in fees for corporate lawsuits in the Supreme Court. The committee also asked the government and the judiciary to work out differential court fees according to the value of the disputes.
Premium pricing: The Supreme Court building. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
“We have recommended the increase of court fee for companies and in income-tax cases. Currently, the fee structure in the Supreme Court is in the range of Rs250-2,000 for all cases,” said E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, a Congress lawmaker who heads the standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice.
“When corporate cases involving crores of rupees come to the court, more time is consumed. So we are proposing an ad valorem (according to value) system.”
The new fee structure is likely to increase the annual fee collection in the apex court to Rs100 crore from the current Rs1 crore, the 30-member panel comprising members from both houses of Parliament said.
The panel said the “extra income” should be used for infrastructure development of the court and to provide free legal aid to the poor.
“Corporate commercial bodies have huge financial resources at their disposal and invariably their disputes are worth crores of rupees. Accordingly, it would be reasonable if they are required to pay the court fees as per the values of their dispute... which should extend from 1- 5% of the total value of the dispute,” said the report on the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2008, which was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
“Most clients will welcome it if it expedites the process,” said Mahesh Agarwal, partner at Delhi-based law firm Agarwal Law Associates. “All industrialists want to see the results immediately and the arbitration process has proved to be unsuccessful.”