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In the apex court litigants and lawyers have been paying a insignificant fee for filing appeals or vakalatnama for more than 40 years, but it may register a 20-fold boost as per a current proposal being examined by law minister Veerappa Moily. 
The proposal is part of the process initiated by Moily to take a relook at the court fee structure and evolve a consolidated Central Court Fees Act making provisions for payment of realistic fees in respect of Supreme Court and in all Tribunals set up under central legislations. Moily is expected to initiate discussion with advocate bodies on this proposal.

As for lawyers, who charge the litigant in thousands of rupees, they pay an absurdly meagre fee of Rs 3 for filing vakalatnama in the SLP, an authorisation letter from the client that allows them to appear in the case. That’s not all, to enter their appearance in a case, they pay a princely sum of Rs 5.

The fee for filing a special leave petition (SLP) challenging a High Court order in the Supreme Court was fixed at Rs 250 way back in 1966 and it has continued to be so for last 43 years.

Moily thought that these fees were not only absurdly low but totally out of sync with the value of rupee today and asked the legal brains to get working on chalking out a fee structure that would be in consonance with present times, where the lawyers charge huge sums and the litigants spend much more in coming to Delhi to move the Supreme Court.

One of the proposal received by the law ministry was to hike the fee to Rs 5,000 for filing an SLP in the Supreme Court challenging an HC order. The proposal states that this increase alone would generate an additional Rs 25 crore a year.

If the fee for vakalatnama and the charge for entering appearance was suitably raised, it would have a salutary result and make considerable funds available to meet the infrastructural expansion for the court. ‘Importantly, this will help eliminate frivolous and luxury litigation,’ the proposal stated.

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April 2024