A plea was filed in the Madras High court on Wednesday i.e 31ST March 2021 regarding the fees charged for writ petitions and writ appeals filed in the High court. The pleading was heard by the 2-judge bench of Chief Justice Sanib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy. A writ petition can be filed in the High court under Article 226 or the Supreme court under article 32 of India when any of your fundamental rights are violated. There are 5 types of writs that can be filled in the court. The charges for filing writ petition differ from court to court according to the state policy of the respective High court. In the Madras High court, the fees which were previously payable were Rs.200 for a writ petition and Rs.200 for an appeal. Now the fees have been increased to Rs.1000 and Rs.2000 respectively.
The petitioner filed a writ in the matter that the fees increased for writ petitions and appeal are too high and are inconsistent with Article 226 of the Constitution of India which guarantees a remedy to enforce fundamental rights given by the Indian constitution and the cost of such remedy should not exclude a class of person from availing the remedy. The petitioner also argued that even the amount which is charged for a bail petition, or anticipatory bail, or in any criminal appeals are low in comparison to the rigorous increase in the charges for writ petition and appeals. The number of fees being charged in other states was also mentioned by the petitioner. He mentioned the state of Andra Pradesh, Kerala charges only Rs.100, whereas the High court of Punjab and Haryana charges just Rs.50. Even the charge for filing a writ petition in Supreme Court is only Rs.500. The petitioner's point of concern can be clearly seen that the quantum of fees should not be increased so much that it goes beyond the reach of certain people and the justice is not served merely because of charges being too high.
The state tried to put down the matter by stating that "it is a matter of state policy and the court will not interfere unless it finds complete arbitrariness or the possibility of manifest injustice in the exclusion of a class of citizen or court-fees being fixed at such levels that shock the conscience of the court. "A committee was appointed for the purpose of looking into the proposed fee structure across a cross-section of matters and the committee perceived the quantum of increase in respect of the writ petition and appeals to be appropriate", the court submitted in a counter-affidavit. The court said that to maintain the balance in the account of court fees, the fees for certain cases have been reduced, the effect of which fees of some cases were increased. To which the petitioner stated that court fees could not be used as a source of revenue generation.
Without expressing any conclusive view at this stage, the Madras High court directed the government to consider the petitioner's representation within six weeks.