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Breaking: Delhi court fee amendment statute struck down

Delhi high court: Equals opportunities?
Delhi high court: Equals opportunities?

The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) today succeeded in its challenge to the Delhi government’s tenfold court fee hike of August 2012. The Delhi high court has struck down the Court Fee (Delhi Amendment) Act 2012.

Delhi high court advocate Dushyant K Mahant posted on twitter: “Delhi High Court, in a 531 pages judgement strikes down the amendments to the Court Fee by Delhi [government] as unconstitutional and discriminatory. Delhi [government] will have to refund Court Fee to the litigants who have paid exorbitant fees after the amendments last year.”

“Delhi High Court has also held that Delhi [government] had no legislative competence to amend the Court Fee in such a manner. High Court has held that the action by Delhi [government] discriminated those who had little means to pay fee and hampered their chances to litigate,” he tweeted further.

Senior advocates AS Chandhiok and JP Sengh were present for the DHCBA in court today but were not reachable for comment.

Advocate Amit Saxena who was appearing for the DHCBA, alongside DHCBA secretary Mohit Mathur and members Mohit Gupta and Laxmi Chauhan, said: “We are yet to recieve the judgement but we had challenged the locus of the Delhi government to amend [the cout fee act] and said that it had no jurisdictional power. It's a central act not a state law.” he declined to comment further until the copy of the judgement was made available.

The Act had come into force on 1 August and on 8 August the DHCBA had moved the Delhi HC for striking it down, arguing that the hike had caused the fee to be less a fee and more a tax on the litigant. The increase was slated to earn the Delhi government additional revenue of Rs 450 crore.

The Delhi HC had stayed the increase in fee pending the litigation but in September 2012 the Supreme Court had lifted the stay after then Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman argued that at Rs 1.5 crore per day, the stay would cause irreparable loss to the state exchequer.

Mahant had noted on his blog how the amendment had ended up having the effect of providing some kind of an exemption on fee to cash-rich companies who file intellectual property (IP) disputes.”After reading elaborate judgement by Delhi High Court will I get some clarity why Delhi [government] exempted Companies to file IP suits with [Rs 5,000] fee[?],” he tweeted.

Order available via Mahant’s blog

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