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Delhi High Court Issues Notice On Plea Challenging Constitutional Validity Of Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2010

Nupur Thapliyal
7 July 2022 9:15 AM GMT
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice on a public interest litigation challenging the constitutional validity of the Court Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act, 2010 whereby the Court Fees Act, 1870 was amended qua its applicability to the territory of Delhi.

A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad sought response from the Centre through Ministry of Law and Justice and Delhi Government through Department of Law, Justice & Legislative Affairs.

The matter will now be heard on September 8.

The plea has been moved by an Advocate namely Praveen Kumar Aggarwal and has been filed through Advocates Kajal Subodh Gupta, Abhishek Grover and Kunal Sharma.

The legislation is challenged on the ground of lack of legislative competence of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi. The plea states that Article 239AA of the Constitution of India does not empower the Delhi Legislative Assembly to effect amendment of the Court Fees Act, 1870, which is a Central legislation.

"The expression 'Union Territory' in Article 239AA(3)(b) refers to Delhi and therefore, the Parliament alone has the competence to legislate with regard to any matter concerning Delhi, in terms of the mandate of Article 246(4) which provides that the Parliament has power to make laws with respect to any matter for any Union Territory even if its falls under List II of Schedule VII of the Constitution," it adds.

The plea prays for a declaration that Section 16A inserted in the Court Fees Act 1870 vide the Court-Fees (Delhi Amendment) Act 2010 is unconstitutional and against the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The plea avers that Section 16A creates two classes of people, i.e., one seeking refund under Section 16 of the Court-Fees Act, 1870 and the other seeking refund under section 16A of the Court-Fees Act, 1870.

It has been argued that the sole reason for such distinction is that in former the Court refers the parties to a suit to any mode of settlement of dispute referred to in Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in the latter the parties settle their cases on their own or with the intervention of the court.

"Situation wherein parties who settle their dispute through a Mediation Centre or other Alternative Dispute Resolution method under Section 89 of Code of Civil procedure would be entitled to claim full refund of their Court Fees, whilst parties who settle the disputes privately by themselves or with the intervention of the Court will only be refunded half the Court Fees. Such differential treatment between two similarly situated persons would constitute a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and is, therefore, unconstitutional," the plea argues.

Case Title: Praveen Kumar Aggarwal v. Union of India & Anr.

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