In a major relief for common litigants, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday struck down the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, through which the Delhi Government had increased court fees across the board last year.

A Division Bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice J. R. Midha quashed the government’s decision on a petition filed by the Delhi High Court Bar Association, arguing that the government lacked the jurisdiction to carry out the amendment.

The Association had challenged the increase by saying the Delhi Government did not have the legislative competence to increase the fees as the law governing them was a Central legislation.

The Delhi Government had defended the hike saying that the new rates had been introduced on the instructions of the High Court and that it would facilitate implementation of the e-Court project in the Capital.

“We have held that the Delhi Assembly did not have the legislative competence to amend the Court Fees Act, 1870. We have also held that the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, adversely impacts the Part-III rights and results in violation of Article 38 and 39A of the Constitution of India,” the Bench said.

“For these reasons, the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, as a whole has to be struck down. The Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, is hereby declared as invalid and ultra vires the Constitution and therefore, struck down,” the Bench said. “As a result, the respondents would be liable to refund court fees, which have been recovered from litigants based on the prescriptions contained in the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012,” the Bench stated.

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