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Cardamom Marketing Corporation & Another Versus State of Kerala & Others

2016 (10) TMI 152 - SUPREME COURT

Court fees and valuation of suits - Levy of additional court fee in respect of each appeal or revision at the rate of 0.5% of the amount involved in the dispute in cases where it is capable of valuation, and at the rate of ₹ 50 in other cases - Held that:- The argument of the appellants ignores that as per Section 76(3) of the CF Act, one of the purposes for which the Fund is to be utilised is for providing efficient legal services for the people of the State. It clearly amounts to quid pr .....

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ocates play an important role in the administration of justice. It is wisely said that for any society governed by Rule of Law, effective judicial system is a necessary concomitant. The Rule of Law reflects man's sense of order and justice. There can be no Government without order; there can be no order without law; and there can be no administration of law without lawyers. It is no small service to be called upon to prosecute and enforce the rights of a litigant through the court of law and in .....

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enable it to provide necessary service to the consumers of justice. Section 76 of the CF Act and the impugned notification vide which additional court fee is imposed have a direct nexus to the objective sought to be achieved in relation to the service available to the appellants or others who approached the courts/tribunals for redressal of their grievances. - Civil Appeal No. 4453 of 2008, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 514 of 2009, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 490 of 2011 - Dated:- 1-9-2016 - A. K. S .....

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o as the 'CF Act') whereby the Government authorised the tribunals and appellate authorities constituted by or under special or local law, other than civil and criminal courts, to levy additional court fee in respect of each appeal or revision at the rate of 0.5% of the amount involved in the dispute in cases where it is capable of valuation, and at the rate of ₹ 50 in other cases. This notification further provides that the amount so collected shall be credited to the Kerala Legal .....

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de its judgment dated July 13, 2007. This judgment of the High Court is challenged in this appeal on the same grounds. Subject matter of the two writ petitions is also identical. 2) Before coming to the detailed submissions in this behalf, it would be apposite to take note of the relevant provisions of the CF Act as well as terms of the notification dated April 05, 2002. 3) The CF Act relates to court fees and valuation of suits in the State of Kerala. The court fee calculated as per the provisi .....

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rts but also revenue authorities, including the tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction under any special or local laws, to decide questions affecting the rights of the parties. Thus, revenue courts as well as tribunals, when such bodies are deciding questions affecting the rights of the parties, are treated as 'court' for the purpose of CF Act. Fee prescribed under the said Act becomes payable in respect of proceedings before these authorities as well. 4) Section 76 of the CF Ac .....

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f the amount involved in the dispute in cases where it is capable of valuation and in other cases at a rate not exceeding one hundred rupees for each appeal or revision. (2) There shall be constituted a legal benefit fund to which shall be credited - (i) the proceeds of the additional court-fee levied and collected under sub-section (1); (ii) fifty per cent of the court fees levied and collected on mukhtarnama or vakalathnama under Article 16 of Schedule II of this Act. (3) The fund constituted .....

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e State Government to levy an additional court fee in respect of appeals or revisions to tribunals or appellate authorities, other than civil and criminal courts. This can be done by notification in the Gazette. The upper limit of such an additional court fee is one per cent of the amount involved in the dispute in cases where it is capable of valuation, and in other cases the additional court fee which can be levied is not to exceed rupees hundred for each appeal or revision. This levy of addit .....

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Benefit Fund Rules, 1991, These Rules prescribed the manner in which the Fund is to be operated. Rule 3 thereof enumerates the sources of monies to the said Fund and reads as under: 3. Depositing of certain monies to the Fund. - (1) The amount to be credited to the Legal Benefit Fund shall be drawn from the head of account 2014-800-06 Legal Benefit Fund - Contributions by the Secretary, Board of Revenue (L/R) and may be made available to the Secretary to Government, Law Department for depositin .....

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e added to the Fund as and when such additional court fees are levied and collections are made. This amount will also be made available to the Law Secretary during the beginning of every financial year based on consolidated accounts of collection made in the previous year. (3) The fund shall be deposited in the Public Deposit account as 'Fund' in the District Treasury, Thiruvananthapuram in the name of the Legal Benefit Fund Trustee Committee constituted under rule 4. Under Rule 4, a Fun .....

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Act is aimed at providing of a Welfare Fund for the payment of retirement benefits to advocates in the State of Kerala and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Section 3 thereof deals with constitution of the Advocates' Welfare Fund and reads as under: 3. Advocates' Welfare Fund. - (1) The Government shall constitute a fund called the Advocates' Welfare Fund. (2) There shall be credited to the Fund - (a) all amounts paid by the Bar Council under section 12; (b) .....

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he legal profession; (f) any sum borrowed under section 10; (g) all sums received from the Life Insurance Corporation of India on the death of an advocate under the Group Insurance Policy; (h) any profit or dividend received from the Life Insurance Corporation of India in respect of policies of Group Insurance of the members of the Fund; (i) any interest or dividend or other return on any investment made of any part of the Fund; (j) all sums collected by way of sale of stamps under section 22; ( .....

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dited to the Advocates' Welfare Fund, for providing efficient legal services for the people of the State and social security measures for the legal profession. In nutshell, the additional court fee at the rate of 0.5% of the amount involved or ₹ 50 in each case by the tribunals and appellate authorities constituted by or under any special or local laws, other than civil and criminal courts, is meant for the aforesaid Welfare Fund which is to be utilised in accordance with the provision .....

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cribed in the notification is within the outer limit prescribed under Section 76(2) of the Act. To this extent, therefore, there cannot be any quarrel. 9) However, the main argument of the appellants is that the additional court fee which is to be paid on the appeals etc. which are to be filed either under the Kerala General Sales Tax Act or the Kerala Value Added Tax Act by virtue of the aforesaid notification, have no nexus with the object and, therefore, it does not have any character of ' .....

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is more so when such an additional fee has to be paid at each and every subsequent level of statutory appeal and revision as well. 10) The aforesaid arguments of the appellants is devoid of any merit. Insofar as the argument predicated on fee vis-a-vis tax is concerned, i.e. the submission that the imposition in question is in the nature of tax inasmuch as this imposition has no nexus to any object sought to be achieved in relation to the service available to the appellants and there is no quid .....

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ts; fees taken in all courts except to the Supreme Court. By the Forty-Second Amendment to the Constitution in the year 1976, administration of justice became a Concurrent Subject, having been included as Entry 11A in List III which resulted in requisite modification to Entry 3 in List II as well. At the same time, by the very same amendment, Article 39-A was also inserted in Part IV of the Constitution which relates to the Directive Principles of State Policy. This Article exhorts the State to .....

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us, becomes a distinct topic and Article 39A calls upon the State to ensure establishment of such legal system which promotes justice and provides free legal aid. 11) We agree with the aforesaid approach of the High Court. First of all, the argument of the appellants ignores that as per Section 76(3) of the CF Act, one of the purposes for which the Fund is to be utilised is for providing efficient legal services for the people of the State. It clearly amounts to quid pro quo. Other purpose is al .....

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