Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Dec 15, 2004
Industry & Economy
Law Commission for Central Act to curb frivolous litigation
K. R. Srivats
New Delhi , Dec. 14
THE Law Commission of India has recommended that a Central Act be enacted to curb vexatious or frivolous litigation. It has suggested that this legislation should be on the lines of the Madras Act VIII of 1949.
At the same time, the Commission has not accepted the concept that the court fee should be increased to prevent frivolous and vexatious litigation. It has held in its report on revision of court fees structure, tabled in Parliament recently, that this concept is not consistent with the Articles 21, 38 and 39A of the Constitution of India. Court fees payable in all courts (except the Supreme Court) is a State subject as per the Constitutional scheme.
The Law Commission has also recommended that the amount of fine prescribed under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and other old penal enactments be enhanced in proportion to the reduction in the value of the rupee.
It held that such a move would, to some extent, cover the increased cost of administration of justice.
On the Madras Act VIII of 1949, the report highlighted that the Act provides that when the High Court on an application made to it by the Advocate General is satisfied that any person has habitually and without any reasonable grounds instituted vexatious civil or criminal proceeding, in any court or courts, it may, after giving an opportunity of being heard, pass an order that no proceeding, civil or criminal, shall be instituted by him in any court without the leave of court.
As regards the court fees payable in the Supreme Court, the Law Commission has decided against recommending any amendments to such fees.
It has pointed out that the Supreme Court has already made rules that provide the table of court fees payable.
"In the light of the rules made by the Supreme Court, which that court is competent to modify or amend, the Law Commission does not propose to suggest any amendments so far as the Supreme Court is concerned," the Law Commission's report said.
The Commission has also recommended that fixed court fees payable in the Courts exercising jurisdiction over the Union Territories and where Schedule 2 of the Central Court Fee Act, 1870 governs it, should be enhanced in proportion to the reduction in the value of rupee. On the ad valorem court fees, the Commission has held that it may not be necessary to enhance the percentages consequent upon the devaluation of the rupee.
For ad valorem court fees, the levy is a percentage of the value of the claim.
The Commission has also emphasised that any enhancement of Court fee should not adversely affect the right of access to justice.
It has held that the amount collected by way of court fee should not be more than the expenditure incurred in administration of civil justice.
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