Write a detailed note on suit by Indigent Persons
India is the largest democratic nation in the world and being a democratic nation the main aim of the government of India is to provide basic rights to each and every citizen and right to get justice is one of the foremost rights which is given to each and every citizen. If the rights of any person have been violated by any another person than the former person can file a suit against the wrongdoer and claim compensation from him. This right can be exercised by each and every person irrespective of his financial condition. Basically, it means that if a person is poor than also, he has right to file a suit against wrongdoer and claim compensation from him.
According to the provisions of Court fees Act, if any person files a suit against wrongdoer and claim compensation from him then he has to pay requisite amount of money as a court fee. If a person does not file a court fee, then in such a case the court has power to reject the suit filed by the plaintiff. But sometimes, a situation arises where a person is so poor that he cannot pay the court, then in such a case, does that person have no right to file a suit against the wrongdoer?
According to the provisions of the Constitution of India, it is duty of government to provide adequate social, economic and political justice to each and every person. According to these provisions, no person should be left without justice. So, if a person is so poor that he cannot file a court fee then also according to the provisions of Order 33 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, he can file a suit without paying the court fee.
According to the leading case of Gehru v. Charan Das Dogra (HP 1982), the Hon’ble court held that the provisions of Order 33 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, are intended to enable indigent persons to institute and prosecute suits without payment of any court fees. Generally, a plaintiff suing in a court of law is bound to pay court fees prescribed under the Court Fees Act at the time of presentation of plaint. But a person may be too poor to pay the requisite court fee. This order exempts such person from paying the court fee at the first instance and allows him to prosecute his suit in forma pauperis, provided he satisfies certain conditions laid down in this order.
According to Order 33 Rule 1 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, an indigent person has right to file a suit without paying any court fees. According to this rule, an applicant can file a suit without paying court fees only if he does not have sufficient means to pay the court or if he does not have any property worth rupee One thousand rupees except that property which cannot be attached at the time of execution of the decree and the subject matter of the suit. If a person files an application for getting permission to file a suit as an indigent person, then an inquiry regarding the question that whether a person is an indigent person or not can be made by the Chief Ministerial Officer and his report will be considered as the report of court.
According to Order 33 Rule 2 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, if a person file an application for getting permission to file a suit as an indigent person, then it is necessary for him to mention all the details of his movable or immovable property if any alongwith the estimated value of that property. According to the provisions of this Order, after preparing an application, the applicant will have to present this application before the competent court and after receiving the application, the court will examine the application and if the court considers that the application of the applicant does not fall under any of the conditions laid down in Rule 5 of Order 33 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, then the court will accept the application and give ten days’ notice to the opposite party and the government pleader to prove that the applicant is not an indigent person. According to the provisions of this Order, after hearing both the parties on the fixed date, the court will decide that whether the application should be allowed or it should be rejected.
If the application of the applicant is allowed by the court, then in such a case, the application of the applicant will be considered plaint and it will be considered that the suit has been filed on that date when the application was filed by the applicant. Whereas, if the application of the applicant is rejected by the court, then in such a case, the court grants time to the applicant to pay the court fee and if the applicant pays the court, then only the suit will be proceeded further by the court. If the application of the applicant is rejected by the court, then after rejection, he cannot file the same application again. But it does not mean that he cannot file a suit in an ordinary manner.
In the leading case of M.L. Sethi v. R.P. Kapur (SC 1972), the Hon’ble court held that the court can reject an application for permission to sue as an indigent person in the following cases: –
- Where the application is not framed and presented in the prescribed manner; or
- Where the applicant is not an indigent person; or
- Where the applicant has, within two months before the presentation of the application, disposed of any property fraudulently or in order to get permission to sue as an indigent person; or
- Where there is no cause of action; or
- Where the applicant has entered into an agreement with reference to the subject- matter of the suit under which another person has obtained interest; or
- Where the suit appears to be barred by law; or
- Where any other person has entered into an agreement with the applicant to finance costs of the litigation.
In the leading case of Venkatasubbaiah v. Thirupathiah (AP 1955), the Hon’ble court held that Order 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, has been enacted to serve a triple purpose and these are: –
- To protect bona fide claims of an indigent person;
- To safeguard interest of revenue; and
- To protect defendant from harassment.
According to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, where the plaintiff succeeds in the suit then after calculating the amount of court fee by the court, it can be recovered from the party as ordered by the court. But where the plaintiff fails or the suit abates then in such a case, the court will order the plaintiff to pay the court fee and costs. According to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the State Government has right to recover the court fees and for this purpose, it is deemed that it is a party in a suit and it can recover the court fee from any party according to the terms of the decree.