Tamil Nadu Court – Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1955

Tamil Nadu Court – Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1955

This article is written by Syed Owais Khadri. This article provides an overview of all the Chapters of the Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1955 while discussing important Sections in detail.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

The Tamil Nadu Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1955, is a statute enacted by the legislature of the state of Tamil Nadu. The Act was passed on May 13, 1955, after receiving assent from the President of India, and it came into force on May 19, 1955. The Act aimed at amending and consolidating the laws dealing with court fees and the valuation of suits in the state. The Act is a cornerstone regarding the monetary expenses involved in legal proceedings within the state. The Act comprises 8 Chapters, 88 Sections, and 3 Schedules.

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Scope and Purpose of the Act

The scope and purpose of this Act have been made clear in the preamble. 

The purpose of this legislation, as stated in the Preamble, is to amend and consolidate the laws relating to court fees and valuation of suits in the state of Tamil Nadu. Although the Preamble lays down the purpose of the Act in a simple sentence, the legislation serves an extensive purpose, starting from defining important terms to laying down a comprehensive and well-established law with regard to the monetary expenses related to the court. The legislation provides for the fee based on the classification of suits, which has been done under Chapter 4 of the Act. The Act also specifies fees that should be paid in various courts and for various suits. Furthermore, the Act aims to establish consistency across the State with regard to monetary expenses in courts by providing for a proper method of valuation of suits and by specifying fees for various cases well by itself.

The Preamble ends with the terms in the State of Tamil Nadu, which refer to the scope of this legislation. Section 1(2), which provides for the extent of the legislation, states that the Act extends to the whole of the State of Tamil Nadu. The scope of the legislation is limited to the State but does not extend beyond it as it is an Act of the State Legislature. Furthermore, the applicability of the Act discussed under Section 2 of the Act talks about the exceptions to the scope of the Act.

Applicability

Section 2 of the Act mentions the applicability of the Act. It is partially a negative provision as the first Sub-Section of the Section does not mention the cases or scenarios of application of the Act but mentions exceptions to the application of the Act, and Sub-Section 2 of Section 2 provides for the application of this Act in the presence of any other law.

Section 2(1) of the Act provides two exceptions to the application of the Act, one among which is omitted and the other is an operation. Section 2(1)(a) was omitted in 1979 with an amendment to the Act, which came into force in January 1980. The omission made the provisions of this Act applicable to the Presidency Court of Small Causes, Madras. Section 2(1)(b) makes an exception to the applicability of the Act before any Central government officer. According to clause b, the provisions of this Act are not applicable to documents presented or to be presented before any Central government officer.

Section 2(2) talks about the doctrine of harmonious construction in the presence of two legislations on the same subject matter. The Sub-Section states that if there is any other legislation that contains provisions with regard to the levy of fees in respect of proceedings under such law, then in such a case, the fee with regard to such proceedings must be levied according to the provisions of this Act in respect of such proceedings has to be applied with subject to the provisions of the other law.

For example, A and B are two legislations. A contains provisions with respect to the levy of fees for partition suit, and B also contains provisions on the same. In such a case, the provisions of B shall be applied subject to the provisions of A.

The Sub-Section says that both legislations must be construed harmoniously and shall be applied accordingly. 

The Act was enacted in the year 1955 as Act 16 of 1955. The Act came into force on May 19, 1955, after receiving the assent of the President on May 13, 1955. The Act contains 88 Sections listed under 8 different Chapters. The Act further contains 3 schedules that contain specifications for fees. 

The Act begins with the Preamble, which sheds light upon the object and purpose of the Act, which is to amend and consolidate laws relating to court fees in the State.

Chapter 1

The first chapter of the Act is the preliminary, which comprises three provisions (Sections 1 to 3). 

  • Section 1 of the Act provides for the extent and commencement of the Act, along with the short title.
  • Section 2 provides for the applicability of the Act and 
  • Section 3 defines a few terms of the Act.

Some of the definitions provided under Section 3 include the following.

  • Section 3(i) states that “appeal” includes a cross-objection.
  • Section 3(ii) mentions what “Court” means in any Civil, Revenue, or Criminal Court and includes a Tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction under any special or local law to decide questions affecting the rights of parties.
  • Section 3(iii-a) means “transferred territory,” which means the Kanyakumari district and the Shencottah taluk of Tirunelveli district.

Chapter 2

The Second Chapter of the legislation discusses the liability to pay fees. It comprises six provisions (Sections 4 to 9). 

Section 4 provides for the levy of fees in courts and public offices; it makes payment of fees mandatory for filing, recording, exhibition, or furnishing of any document either in courts or in public offices. The proviso part further gives an exception to the Section. The proviso states that it is the discretion of the court to allow the exhibition, filing, or recording of a document in a criminal court even though the fees are not paid to prevent failure of justice.

Section 5 of the Act deals with the payment of fees for a document that has been already produced in a court or public office without prior payment. The Section states that if any document has been inadvertently produced without complete or partial payment of fees, the court or the head of the office may allow such fees to be paid within a prescribed period. It provides that delay in payment in such a case would not have any effect on the validity of the document and it shall have the same validity or force as it would have if the fees had been paid in the first instance.

Section 6 of the Act deals with the value of fees that should be paid in cases of suits involving multiple reliefs. 

Sub-Section 1 states that if separate and distinct reliefs are on the same cause of action, the value of fees shall be the aggregate value for all the reliefs sought. Furthermore, if the multiple reliefs sought are secondary or subordinate to the main relief, then the fees would be the value of the main relief. Sub-Section 2 provides that when distinct reliefs are sought on the same cause of action alternatively, then the fees shall be of the highest value among the reliefs sought. Likewise, Sub-Section 3 provides for a levy of fees on suits arising out of two distinct and different causes of action.

Section 7 provides for the determination of market value. It states that the market value must be determined as of the date of presentation of the suit.

Section 8 and Section 9 are similar to Section 6, but deal with a set-off or a counterclaim.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of the Act deals with the determination of fees. It contains eleven provisions (Sections 10 to 20). 

Section 10 provides that the suit must contain a statement of particulars of the suit and a valuation according to the market value.

Sections 11 and 12 provide for the decision as to the proper fees in the High Court and other courts, respectively, if any difference with regard to the valuation of the fees arises. According to Section 11 of the Act, the decision rests with a taxing officer in the case of the High Court; nevertheless, he may consult the court on questions of general importance. Furthermore, the Court may review the decision of the taxing officer. The power to make  such a decision in any Court other than the High Court rests with the Court itself. It provides for an order to make payment if the court fees paid are a deficit and also to refund if the fees paid in the lower courts are in excess.

Section 13 provides for fee payment on the additional issues framed within a stipulated time. Failure to do the same would result in striking that particular issue and proceeding with the other issues.

Sections 14 and 15 provide for the relinquishment of claims and fees on written statements, respectively. Sections 16 and 17 state that Sections 10 to 14, subject to necessary changes (mutatis mutandis), shall apply in respect of memorandum of appeal, cross-examination, applications, petitions and other proceedings, etc.

Sections 18 and 19 give the power of deputation of officers as court fees examiners and the power to inquire and commission the court. Section 20 talks about notice, if necessary, given to the state government by the court during any such inquiry mentioned in the last preceding Section that may affect the fees payable.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of the Act deals with the computation of fees. The Chapter comprises thirty two provisions (Sections 21 to 52). The Chapter contains the computation of suits based on their subject matter or relief. It contains classifications such as suits for money, suits for maintenance, movable property, dissolution of property, specific performance, suits relating to mortgages, easements, trust property, partition suits, etc., and appeals. This chapter also includes Section 21-a which states that the computation of fees should be to the nearest multiple of five paise, and Section 44-a which includes the category of various classified suits.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 of the Act contains two provisions, i.e., Sections 53 and 54. The Chapter deals with the valuation of suits. 

Section 53 of the Act states that unless and until a specific provision is provided for the value of a suit for the jurisdictional purpose in the instant Act or any other law, the value of the suit for such a purpose and the computation of fees for the same shall be the same under this law. 

Section 54 of the Act provides for the procedure that needs to be followed when an objection is taken on appeal or revision that a suit or appeal was not properly valued for jurisdictional purposes.

Chapter 6

Chapter 6 of the Act, titled “Probates, Letters Of Administration And Certification Of Administration” contains eleven provisions (Sections 55 to 65). The Sections under this Chapter provide for the application of probate and letters of administration, grant of probate, inquiry by the collector, etc.

  • Section 55 of the Act provides for applications for probate or letters of administration, which, after receipt by the court, are sent to the collector of the district where the estate is situated.
  • Section 56 provides for the fee chargeable for the grant of probate or letters of administration.
  • Section 57 states that a grant of probate shall not be done until the court is satisfied that the fee prescribed by the Act based on the estate’s net value has been paid. The proviso part gives an exception to the said rule in case of the Administrator-General in his capacity, giving an undertaking to the Court that the said fee will be paid within the time as may be fixed by the Court.
  • Section 58 provides that if a grant of probate or letter of administration has already been made after the fee payable has been paid, the applicant need not pay the fee again if another like grant is made. In simple words, in case of several grants being made, the fee shall be paid only once and not for every grant individually.
  • Sections 59 and 60 provide for the inquiry by the collector, application to court, and power of court.
  • Section 61 provides for making up of fees in cases where too low a fee has been paid.
  • Section 62 makes it mandatory for an administrator to give proper security before letters are stamped.
  • Section 63 provides for relief when too high a fee has been paid. If it is discovered that a fee greater than the valued fee payable has been paid, then the administrator or executor can apply for a refund to the collector.
  • Section 64 provides for the recovery of penalties from the administrator or executor as if it were arrears of the land revenue.
  • Section 65 states that the powers of the collector shall be subject to the control of the Board of Revenue.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 of the legislation contains eight provisions (Sections 66 to 73) that provide for remissions and refunds. It includes six Sections providing six scenarios or instances of refunds, one provision exempting certain documents, and the last Section providing for the power to reduce or remit the fees.

Sections 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, and 71 provide for the five instances of refund, which are as follows.

  • Refund in cases of delay in presentation of plaints, etc.
  • Refund in cases of remand.
  • Refund in cases where the court reverses or modifies former decisions based on mistakes.
  • Refund on the settlement before the hearing.
  • Refund of fees paid by mistake or inadvertence.
  • Refund in cases of instruments of partition engrossed on non-judicial stamps.

Section 72 exempts the charging of fees on certain documents. The provision contains a list of 20 such documents.

Section 73 of the Act empowers the state government to reduce or remit any fees under this Act by issuing a notification in the Gazette.

Chapter 8 

Chapter 8 of the legislation contains 15 provisions (Sections 74 to 88). It includes miscellaneous provisions such as provisions relating to the power of the High Court, the Board of Revenue, and the Government to make rules and other repealing, saving, and amending provisions. 

  • Section 80 discusses the power of the High Court to make rules; Section 81 discusses the power of the Board of Revenue to make rules; and Section 82 provides for the power of the Government to make rules.
  • Section 84 amends the Tamil Nadu Civil Courts Act, 1873, omitting Section 14 of that Act.
  • Section 85 repeals the Presidency Magistrates (Court Fees) Act, 1877, in the state of Tamil Nadu.
  • Section 86 amends the Madras City Civil Court Act, 1892, omitting two Sections (Sections 9 and 13).
  • Section 87 is a repealing and saving provision, and Section 88 provides for savings in respect of the transferred territory.

The Tamil Nadu Court- Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1955, is significant legislation of the state of Tamil Nadu that establishes consistency and uniformity within the courts concerning the court fees and valuation of suits. It rules out the possibilities of ambiguity concerning the above subject matter as the legislation is comprehensive, covering all relevant areas, and the legislation has also been amended to adapt to the changes in society and the legal system. 

https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/13261/1/court_fee_act_1955.pdf


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