The hurt inflicted on the state exchequer by Abdul Karim Telgi and the multi-crore fake stamps scam he run for many years may finally do the country a little good.
The Law Commission has recommended drastic changes in the archaic Court-Fees Act and Indian Stamp Act to check loss of government’s revenue.
Enforcing the recommendations would rid people of the necessity to comply with archaic laws dating back to the British rule.
The commission has suggested the Court-Fees Act, 1870 and Indian Stamp Act, 1899 should be suitably amended "to provide for payment of stamp duty on instruments and court-fee on documents to be filed in courts through alternative modes of payment, namely, demand draft, banker's cheque, pay order, money order, postal order, challan, and cash”.
Many of the judicial and quasi-judicial forums have already started using alternative modes of payment of court-fees and stamp duty, the commission added.
This would save the government huge cost of printing judicial and non-judicial stamps. Money would also be saved since no commission will have to be paid to stamp vendors. The public in turn will have less red tape to deal with and illegal practices can be prevented.
All this is what the commission said in a report submitted to Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily recently.
Terming the two Acts as “anachronistic pieces of legislation”, it said, “These ridiculous provisions continue to remain on the statute book even fifty nine years after the Constitution of India came into force.”
It wondered why “our country is carrying the unbearable load under the said Acts, which…is a British legacy.”
Maintaining that the main reason for stamp paper scams was that they were printed in bulk, the commission noted some state governments had decided to sell them through post offices to prevent occurrences of such scams.
It pointed out that “ridiculously small amount of court-fee, like 50 naya paisa, is still required to be paid on some small types of documents. Then there are complicated provisions for cancelling those court-fee stamps.”
Underlining some of the ridiculous provisions, it noted “in high courts, where the paper-books (petitions) are very heavy, the petitioner is required to affix a court-fee stamp of 65 naya paisa on each page. Considerable amount of man-hours is wasted in this useless process.
“Then, employees of the courts check each and very page of paper-book to ensure that stamps of correct amount are affixed and properly cancelled before clearing the paper-book for further processing.”
It also pointed out the artificial shortage of stamps and stamped papers, occasionally created by agents, leading to their sale in black market.