The Orissa High Court has held that a woman, irrespective of her status and nationality, is exempted from payment of court fee in Odisha Courts.
The Plaintiff in this case (Sanjay Kumar Das vs. Munmum Patnaik), though is a domicile of the state, was a US Citizen. Her suit for declaration of title, partition and permanent injunction filed in a court in Odisha was valued at Rs.1, 11, 84,300. The defendant in the suit contended before the Trial Court that she is a citizen of USA since 1991 and that NRIs are not exempted from payment of court fees. The Trial Court rejected his application.
Before the High Court, it was contended that, though the notification issued under Section 35 of the Court Fees Act, 1987 exempts women-plaintiffs from paying court fees, the instant plaintiff being an NRI, cannot invoke such an exemption.
The notification, which was issued in the year 1995, exempts following persons from paying court fees
• Member of Scheduled Castes
• Member of Scheduled Tribes
• Persons with disabilities
• Persons whose annual income does not exceed one lakh rupees,
• Persons who are otherwise entitled to legal service under the Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987.
Referring to this notification, Justice AK Rath observed: "Women are exempted from payment of court fees. The language of the notification is clear & explicit. The word 'woman' has not been pre-fixed by any adjective. It takes with its sweep the woman of any status or nationality. The Court cannot interpret the same in a manner which will defeat the purpose of the notification."
The bench then upheld the Trial Court order observing that in view of the notification issued by the State, the plaintiff, who is a woman, is exempted from payment of court fee.