New Delhi: The entire court fees paid by a party is liable to be refunded if a dispute in a civil case is referred to and settled by the Lok Adalat, Kerala High Court said.
According to Justice VG Arun, 7 percent reduction in the court fee already paid were not sustainable as those cases were governed by the Court Fees Act and the Legal Services Authorities Act instead of the Kerala Court Fess and the Suits Valuation (Board of Revenue) rules.
In this case, the petitioner had filed a plea seeking the realisation of amount due from the respondents in a civil court. However, it was passed to the Lok Adalat and the dispute was settled amicably, and an award incorporating the terms of the settlement was passed by the District Legal Services Authority.
Now, as per Clause 4.6 of the award, the court fees paid in the case was to be returned to the petitioner.
Accordingly, the petitioner filed applications for a refund of Rs 5042 paid in excess of the court fees and for Rs 4498400 paid as the court fees.
However, an amount of Rs 4183512 was refunded and Rs 314888 was deducted.
Aggrieved with the deduction, the petitioner moved the Kerala High Court claiming it to be without authority and therefore illegal.
The court observed, “When a dispute in a pending civil case is referred to the Lok Adalat and settled, the entire court fees paid is liable to be refunded.”
The advocates appearing for the petitioner contended that Section 21 of the Legal Services Authorities Act with Section 16 of the Court Fees Act make it obligatory to refund the entire amount of the court fees already paid.