The Delhi High Court has ruled that when e-court fee is wrongly purchased or remains unutilized, the authorities, on being satisfied that the same has remained unutilized/unspoiled, must refund it without insisting on any court order in this regard. (Krishan Kumar vs SDM Rohini)
The direction was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla in a petition seeking refund of an amount of Rs 7,45,000 of unused/un-utilized e-court fees purchased by the petitioner.
The petitioner had purchased e-court fees from the Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited for filing of a suit.
However, the suit was not filed, and the court fees remained unutilized.
When the petitioner sought refund of the court fees from Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Rohini, he was asked to submit a court order in respect of refund of the e-court.
The Court analysed Sections 25, 26, 27, 30 of Court-Fees Act of 1870 and opined that a stamp was the mode of payment of court fees for filing of a document and thus the incident of payment of court fees was the filing of the document and not the purchase.
The Court reiterated that court fee was not in the nature of a “tax” as there could be no tax on litigation. It also said the State could not retain money without authority of law or when the event of charge has not occurred.
In the present case, the Court noted that the event of charge in relation to the court fee had not occurred as the suit was not filed.
The Court thus stated that there was no authority with the State to retain the amount once the petitioner wished to return the same without it being utilized or spoiled in any manner.
The Court also added that any insistence on a court order for refund would be completely unnecessary as it would lead to unnecessary litigation and pressure on courts.
“The policy of the State has to be to avoid and not encourage the same. The respondent must refund this amount on being satisfied of its non-use.”, the Court said.
Noticing that in many other cases, request for refund of unutilized or wrongly purchased court fee was being denied for want of a court order, the Court directed,
The petition was allowed with a direction to the SDM to, on being satisfied that the e-stamp paper purchased by the petitioner was unutilized, refund the amount of Rs 7,45,000 to the petitioner.
Advocate Prashant Kumar Mittal appeared for the petitioner.
Additional Standing Counsel Gautam Narayan with Advocates Dacchita Shahi, Adithya Nair appeared for the State.