Today, in Krishan Kumar v SDM Rohini, the Delhi High Court ruled that if there is a wrongful purchase of the e-court fee or if the submitted fee is not utilized, the same should be refunded by the authorities, without insisting on any kind of court order.
Krishan Kumar, the petitioner, had bought an amount of Rs 7,45,000/- from the Stock Holding Corporation India Ltd. in order to file a suit, however, the fee remained unutilized since the suit was not filed.
The petitioner, while seeking for a refund of the unutilized e-court fee, was, however, asked by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Rohini, to submit a court order with respect to the fee.
The judgment was passed by Justice Navin Chawla, by a Single Judge Bench. Sections from s. 25 till s.30 of the Court-Fees Act, 1870, were reviewed and it was held that a stamp or a seal is a mode of paying the court fees for filing of a document. Therefore, paying the court fee is a filing of the document and not the purchase one.
In Secretary, Government of Madras, Home Department and Another vs. Zenith Lamp and Electrical Ltd., (1973) 1 SCC 162, the Supreme Court had stated that the fee taken in courts for filing of suits and other proceedings cannot be “taxed” since the nature of such proceedings is no way similar to that of a ‘tax’ and said that without Legal authority, the state cannot retain money when the suit has not been filed/ event of charge has not occurred.
In the case at hand, the event which should have occurred by the charge of the court fee did not occur, since as per the petitioner, the suit for which he got the e-stamp issued for, was not filed by him. Voiding the authority of the State to retain the fee in any case, since the amount has not been utilized for the purpose and the petitioner wants a refund.
The court addressed the issue by analyzing s.30 of the Act and insisting that an issue of the court order in the present matter is completely unnecessary.
The court stated,
“The policy of the State has to be to avoid and not encourage the same. The respondent must refund this amount on being satisfied of its non-use.”
As per the directions issued by the court, the petitioner shall receive the refund within four weeks from today after the respective authorities are satisfied that the amount which was used to purchase the re-stamp paper by the petitioner has not been utilized.
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