The Law Commission of India on Tuesday recommended a 50-fold hike in the court fees to be paid by parties approaching the Supreme Court for corporate disputes and has suggested fixing a maximum limit of Rs. one lakh for such fees.
In its latest report submitted to the law ministry, the commission which advises the government on complex legal issues has pointed out that there has been no revision of the court fees since last 60 years.
The report has come in response to a reference made by the department of justice following a report by the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice. The parliamentary panel had recommended a steep hike in fees for corporate cases in 2008, saying that there was an impression that the corporates get priority in courts.
"Presently the maximum court fees stands at Rs. 2,000 and this was prescribed by the Supreme Court rules of 1950 and it remains unchanged till now," the commission chairman, justice PV Reddi has said in his note on the report.
"The commission felt that there is a need to increase the maximum fee so that the high value appeals which are mainly filed by companies, firms and trusts etc., would attract higher fee," states the report.
The commission has also suggested upward revision of the Rs. 250 court fees for filing special leave petitions (SLPs) and petitions of appeal in which the amount of value of the subject matter in dispute is less than Rs. 2,50,000, in the Supreme Court.
The commission has, however, made it clear that the court fees alone should not be viewed as the main source of revenue to run the courts. It has cited the example of other countries including the United Kingdom and Canada, along with the neighbouring SAARC countries "where no separate court fees has been prescribed for the corporates."
The law commission has argued that though it agrees with the well settled legal and factual position that companies and corporates alone cannot be made liable to pay a higher court fees, but there has be a classification "based on the financial capacity to bear the burden of court fees."
The commission has asked the government to send its recommendations to the Supreme Court for a final decision and it should not act on it.
"It is desirable and proper that the parliament does not straightway proceed to supersede the Supreme Court rules and prescribe the scales of fee by itself through legislation," states the report.