Women, regardless of status or nationality, exempted from paying Court Fees: Orissa HC [Read Order]

Meera Emmanuel January 8 2019

The Orissa High Court has clarified that all women, regardless of nationality or status, are eligible to be exempted from the payment of court fees with respect to litigation in the state, in tune with the Orissa government's 1994 notification to that effect.

Justice AK Rath put the issue to rest in an order passed last month. An NRI woman had initiated a property suit, in respect of which she claimed the exemption from payment of court fee available to women.

Exercising its powers under Section 35 of the Court Fees Act, 1870, the Orissa government had passed a notification in 1994 exempting the following classes of persons from paying any court fee for filling or instituting cases in any court in Orissa:

  1. Scheduled Caste members
  2. Scheduled Tribe members
  3. Women;
  4. Minors;
  5. Persons with disabilities;
  6. Persons whose annual income does not exceed one lakh rupees, and
  7. Persons who are otherwise entitled to legal service under the Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987

Accordingly, the woman-plaintiff was also exempted from paying court fees applicable on the property suit she had initiated. However, this was opposed by the defendant, who contended that the plaintiff was not entitled to claim the exemption as she was a Non-Resident Indian (NRI).

However, the application moved by the defendant raising this challenge was dismissed by the trial court.

After a petition challenging the trial court's decision was filed, the High Court pointed out that the 1994 notification does not indicate any restriction on the court fee exemption available to women on the the basis of status or nationality. Justice Rath observed,

"On a bare reading of the notification, it is evident that seven categories of persons are exempted from payment of court fees. Women are exempted from payment of court fees. The language of the notification is clear & explicit. The word ‘woman’ has not been pre-fixed by any adjective. It takes with its sweep the woman of any status or nationality. The Court cannot interpret the same in a manner which will defeat the purpose of the notification.

The plaintiff is a woman. In view of the notification issued by the State of Orissa, she is exempted from payment of court fees."

Accordingly the Court affirmed the trial court decision in the matter and dismissed the petition.

Read the Order:


Sanjay KumarDas v Munmum Patnaik - Orissa HC order

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