Opposing the hike in court fees and terming the move as “anti-people”, the Coordination Committee of Delhi Bar Associations on Wednesday warned that it will resort to an agitation and even abstain from appearing in court, if the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Bill, 2012, passed by the Delhi Legislative Assembly this Monday, is notified.

“This Bill if notified and made applicable will prevent the common resident of Delhi from seeking justice as he/she would lack the necessary resources to pay court fees which has been increased more than hundred times in many cases. Such a Bill is against the spirit of the Constitution of India which guarantees justice to every individual irrespective of his financial status,” the committee said in a press release.

The lawyers' forum said that policies of the Government like providing free legal aid to poor people would be rendered “meaningless” if the Bill is notified. This is the first hike in court fees since 1958.

According to the DBA, the fees for filing a bail application before a magistrate's court and a Sessions court was Rs.1.25 earlier, this has been hiked to Rs.50 and Rs.100 respectively.

The steepest hike according to lawyers is in civil matters, with a complaint u/s 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act which earlier cost Rs.1.25 to file now going to cost between 2 and 4 per cent as per Article 1. The lawyers claimed that a recovery suit for amounts from Rs.50,001 to Rs.20 lakh for which a fee of one per cent was earlier levied, has now been hiked to 3 per cent. For recovery above Rs.20 lakh, the earlier fee of one per cent has now been hiked to four per cent.

“It has been claimed by Revenue Minister A. K. Walia that the revenue of the Government will increase by about 10 times after the notification of this Bill and it will go up to Rs.500 crore. Surely the Government should not think that it should earn revenue from people it is providing justice to. Providing justice is the basic duty of every elected Government. Nowhere in the world has any government treated the providing of justice as a tool to earn revenue,” the committee said.

“A proper picture was not provided to our elected representatives in Delhi Legislative Assembly. Otherwise, they would have immediately objected to such amendments in the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Bill, 2012,” the committee alleged.

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