Subordinate courts allegedly collect fees before enforcement of Act, complaint lodged

Advocate Meihoubam Rakesh, in his complaint letter, stated that even though no notification is issued by the law department for starting enforcement of the Court Fees (Manipur Amendment Act), 2021, various courts located at Cheirap court and Lamphel court have started collecting court fees at the prescribed rate specified in the amendment act.


High Court of Manipur

A complaint has been lodged before the Registrar General of the Manipur High Court on Friday in connection with subordinate courts allegedly collecting fees as per a schedule appended to the (Manipur Amendment) Act, 2021.

In connection with the governor of Manipur giving assent to the Court Fees (Manipur Amendment) Act, 2021 on February 25, 2021 and the notification issued in the Manipur gazette on March 10, 2021, subordinate courts located at Cheirap and Lamphel court complex have allegedly started collecting court fees as per scheduled appended to the Amendment Act, although the notification for starting enforcement is reportedly not yet issued by the state Law department.

In connection to such activities, advocate Meihoubam Rakesh lodged a complaint before the Registrar General of the High Court of Manipur on Friday. In his complaint letter, he urged to immediately restrain the realisation of court fees on the basis of the said Act, which have not come into force after issuing a notification under section 1(3) of the Amendment Act, by various courts located in Cheirap Court and Lamphel Court complex.

He stated that the government of Manipur issued an ordinance titled ‘The Manipur Court Fees (Manipur Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 on May 15, 2020 and has been notified in the Manipur gazette. The ordinance was issued in order to enable implementation of a system of e-payment of the court fees in order to reduce the difficulties faced by the litigants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he mentioned.

He stated that after the issuance of the ordinance the state government failed to introduce the system of e-payment of the court fees. Thereafter, on February 25, 2021 the governor of Manipur gave assent to the court fees (Manipur Amendment) Act, 2021 and was notified in the Manipur gazette on March 10, 2021, he mentioned. The amendment act repealed the earlier ordinance that is the Manipur Court Fees (Manipur Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, he added.

Advocate Meihoubam Rakesh in his complaint further stated that the amendment act further amended the Court Fees Act, 1870 in order to enable the government of Manipur to introduce a system of e-payment of the court fees to modify the rate of court fees appended in the schedule-1 to the court fees act, 1870. The amendment act proposed to increase the earlier rate of court fees for different applications, suits etc. both for the High Court of Manipur and different subordinate courts in Manipur, it added.

In the sub-section (3) of the section 1 of the court fees (Manipur Amendment) Act, 2021, it is stated that the same should come into force on such date as the state government may by notification in the official gazette, he stated. “The Amendment Act is to be enforced after appointing a date for starting the enforcement. However, the notification for starting enforcement of the amendment act is not yet notified by the law department, government of Manipur till date,” he added.

He stated that even though no notification is issued by the law department, government of Manipur for starting enforcement of the amendment act, various courts located at Cheirap court and Lamphel court including Family court, Manipur, Special Judge (ND and PS), Manipur started realising court fees on each and every application preferred by different litigation at the prescribed rate specified in the amendment act, which is yet to be enforced in the state of Manipur. The realisation of court fees on the basis of the amendment act was started from the previous month, he added.

Rakesh informed that the High Court of Manipur has not implemented the amendment act while realising the court fees, when different writ petitions, appeal applications etc. are being filed before the courts in as much as the amendment act is not yet enforced in the state of Manipur. However, various subordinate courts located at Cheirap and Lamphel court started collecting court fees as per scheduled appended to the amendment act, he stated. Thus, litigants are compelled to pay excessive court fees, which is not permissible under the law, he added.

He further stated that subordinate courts have no authority to realise the court fees beyond the prescribed rate as the new rate of court fees mentioned in the court fees (Manipur Amendment) Act, 2021 is yet to be enforced by issuing necessary notification in terms of section 1(3) of the amendment act. Therefore, the realisation of court fees excessively on the basis of the amendment act is arbitrary, illegal and untenable in the eyes of law and is to be restrained immediately, he stated.

Rakesh urged the Registrar General to issue an appropriate direction to all subordinate courts for restraining them from realising the court fees on the basis of the amendment act and to direct that excess court fees collected be refunded for the ends of justice.

First Published:Sept. 10, 2021, 8:40 p.m.

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