Case filed in Madras High Court against increase in court fees for filing writ petitions and appeals
Mohamed Imranullah S.
CHENNAI 06 AUGUST 2020 00:04 IST
UPDATED: 06 AUGUST 2020 00:04 IST
Litigant says one cannot be expected to pay ₹1,000 for a writ petition and ₹2,000 for writ appeal.
A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court to declare as illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional the demand of ₹1,000 towards court fee for filing a writ petition and ₹2,000 for every writ appeal.
Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy would be hearing the case on Thursday. The litigant K. Vasanth, a liquor shop employee, wanted the court fees to be reduced to ₹200 for both writ petitions and appeals.
The petitioner pointed out that the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suits Valuation Act was amended in 2017 and it increased the court fees for filing a writ petition from ₹200 to ₹1,000 and for writ appeals from ₹200 to ₹2,000.
He said such increase was comparatively very high since a person had to shell out only ₹500 towards court fee for filing a writ petition even in the Supreme Court. Further, the High Courts of Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana continued to collect only ₹200.
The steep increase in court fee would discourage litigants from approaching courts, he said.
The petitioner said he had begun his career as a bartender before getting absorbed as an Assistant Salesman in Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) on a consolidated pay. He and hundreds of other employees of Tasmac were facing various service related issues such as denial of overtime wages and national and festival holiday wages. Even the consolidated salary paid to them was lower than the statutory minimum wages, he claimed.
Mr. Vasanth said that about 166 Tasmac employees had approached the Labour Court demanding fair wages and the latter allowed their plea partly in February 2019 by directing payment of overtime wages and holiday wages working out to around ₹2 lakh for each employee.
Tasmac filed a single writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging the common order passed by the Labour Court and obtained an interim stay. However, when the employees wanted to file writ petitions challenging denial of minimum wages, they were asked to pay court fees of ₹1,000 each.
They were also told that an application could be made seeking permission for all of them to jointly file a single writ petition but the discretion to grant such relief would be with the portfolio judge concerned. If permission was denied, they would have to pay ₹1.66 lakh in court fee.
Pointing out that access to justice and right to judicial review were fundamental rights, the petitioner said that poor workmen could not be deprived of such a precious right by fixing “unreasonable and unfair” court fee.
He said judicial review would become a mirage if the court fee continued to be prohibitive. The petitioner also pointed out that even public interest litigants had to pay ₹1,000 towards court fee since their cases were basically writ petitions filed in public interest.