100% court fees refund to the parties if a suit is settled by Lok Adalats says the Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court recently made clear that if cases were settled by LokAdalats, the parties should be refunded the full court fee paid by them.

The Bench cited Section 21 of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and Section 16 of the Central Court Fees Act, 1870 and held that if a civil suit is referred to LokAdalat, the plaintiff has to begranted 100% fees of the court fees paid in the said case. Consequently, a defendant who filed a counterclaim in the same case is granted 100% refund of the court fees paid on a counterclaim which got settled in LokAdalat.

Earlier, in a case the trial judge allowed the full refund of the court fees citing Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) and Section 21 of the Legal Services Authorities Act.

However, a district judge ordered the petitioner to deposit Rs. 2.25 Lakhs and stated that petitioner was entitled to refund 25% of the court fee. The decision was then challenged before the Bombay High Court. The state asserted that the litigants should be refunded only 25% of the court fees under section 43 the Maharashtra Court Fees Act.

The High Court disagreed to that, finding merit in petitioner’s contention that Section 21 of the Legal Services Act read along with 16 of the Central Court Fees Act, as applicable. It is stated under S. 21 that the court fee paid should be refunded in the way mentioned under the Court-fees Act.

The Court noticed that the Central Court Fees Act should be applied when it comes to refund in LokAdalats and not the Maharashtra Court Fees Act.

It was noted that due to the provision of full refund encouraged litigants to go for such Alternation Dispute Resolution

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