Pune: A city-based lawyer has filed a writ petition in the Mumbai High Court against the State government’s decision to hike various court fees recently. Petitioner Advocate Tosif Chand Shaikh practises at various courts. He is president of Advocacy Association, an organisation which promotes interests of advocates and litigants.
Shaikh has challenged the constitutional validity of the Maharashtra Court Fees (Amendment) Act, 2017, by which the State Legislature has hiked court fees for filing of proceedings much beyond the rates in the Central legislation of 1870. The petitioner has named three respondents namely State of Maharashtra, its General Administration Department and the Mumbai High Court.
Shaikh said, “Imposition of exorbitant court fees would adversely affect not only the functioning of the High Court but also the public image and dignity as an institution for dispensation of justice. The court fees charged and collected by courts and tribunals are so exorbitant they have no relation to the expenditure on the service rendered and partakes the character of a tax.”
According to the petition, the Maharashtra Court Fees Act, 1959 has the history that the court fees in the High Court and courts subordinate thereto were charged and collected in pursuance of the rates stipulated in the Schedule to the Court Fees Act, 1870 passed by the then provincial legislature. The said rates were revised and modified by the enactment of the state legislation of Maharashtra Court Fees Act, 1959.
The petitioner submits that the Constitution mandates that the administrative expenses shall be borne not merely from court fees but generally from the Consolidated Fund of India, thus building a flavour of general tax as against the concept of ‘fee’ requiring quid pro quo.