The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More court fees rolled back

Calcutta, Jan. 7: It took the government 11 days after the lawyers called off their 45-day ceasework to formally withdraw some of the hikes in court fees that came into effect after it passed an Ordinance and then a Bill in the winter session of the Assembly.

The government today withdrew the fee slapped for a court summons. This fee was not there before the Ordinance.

The government also revoked its fees on cases relating to maintenance to parents, wife and unmarried daughters. A gazette notification was issued in this regard and it came into effect from today itself.

The decision to withdraw the fees was preceded by assurances made by law minister Nisith Adhikary to the agitating lawyers during their strike. The minister had also assured the agitating lawyers that court fees of several other items would be revised after talks with the bar council.

Judicial department sources said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee intervened and asked the law minister to withdraw the fees, particularly those relating to maintenance cases. The chief minister had said it was inhuman to charge court fees “to a poor lady who was demanding maintenance from her divorced husband”, said officials in the department.

“During the debate on the Bill on the amendment of the court fees Act in the Assembly, Bhattacharjee had assured that the fees for attending court on summons would not be given effect,” the officials said.

Amiya Chatterjee, the chairman of the state bar council, said the withdrawal of the fees marked one of the victories of their ceasework.

“We have only achieved 2 per cent of our demand. I am sure we will be able to convince the government to revise the fees on several other items and the government must revise these fees by applying Rule 47, which empowers the chief minister to use his discretion, of the Act regarding the court fees,” he said.

The chairman of the executive committee of the council, Uttam Majumdar, alleged that the minister did not keep his word in revoking the fees on only two items. “He should take immediate action to revise the court fees for applications and filing of writs,” he demanded.

After the lawyers’ agitation that crippled the judiciary in the state for a month-and-a-half, the judicial department decided not to table the Block Level Pre-litigation Conciliation Bill in the Assembly. The chief minister had assured the council that the government would not move with the Bill without consulting experts. The Bill was drawn up to introduce courts in each block so that people involved in disputes did not have to travel to the sub-divisional courts.

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