The increased court fee issue today saw a breakthrough when the Delhi High Court stayed the city government’s decision to hike the court fees by ten-fold and asked it to resolve the impasse within two weeks after holding discussions with lawyers’ bodies.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said “Having regard to the nature of the controversy, the Delhi Government will try to resolve the issue within two weeks after holding discussions with the Coordination Council of All Bar Associations in Delhi and the Delhi High Court Bar Association”.
The court, however, agreed with the submissions of Nazmi Waziri, counsel for the Delhi government, that the legislative competence of the State cannot be questioned.
The court took note of the contents of a letter written by Delhi Revenue Minister A K Walia to the lawyers’ body that the government was willing to resolve the issue by holding discussions with all the stakeholders while deciding the stay on operation of the Court Fee (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012.
The court also said that certain provisions in the new Act are not rational and can be questioned, but “right now we are not on that. We are simply asking you to hold discussions to resolve the issue at the earliest in the light of the letter written by the minister to the Coordination Council of All Bar Associations in Delhi.”
August 28 has been fixed as the next date of hearing.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) seeking directions “to hold the Court Fee (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2012, as void, ultra vires and unconstitutional as it is in the nature of collecting revenue and beyond the competence of the state legislature.”
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok who is also the president of DHCBA, said “I can establish that the decision of the government is ultra vires to the constitutional provisions.”
In its plea, the DHCBA has said the state government’s act is against the basic value and ideals of administration of justice in a welfare state.
Meanwhile, lawyers from all the six district courts of Patiala House, Tis Hazari, Karkardooma, Rohini, Saket and Dwarka yesterday called off their indefinite hunger strike after receiving the letter from the Delhi government.
The lawyers had on August 6 abstained from work and then had gone on an hunger strike from August 7 protesting against the city government’s decision of hiking court fees.
The lawyers had said the government should roll back the hike as it would increase the burden on common litigants.
The Delhi government had recently decided to increase the court fees ten-fold to shore up its coffers by around Rs 450 crore annually.
The Delhi Revenue Minister had earlier said the court fees in the city were last hiked in 1958 by the Punjab government which were extended to Delhi and they have continued till date in the national capital.