The Bombay High Court held that marginal delay in payment of the deposit of court fees cannot be a ground to deprive the opportunity to prosecute suit on merits.
The said decision was held in the matter of Shri Narendra Janardan Mhatre & Anr. Vs. M/s Suburban Industries Ltd., decided on 12.03.2019.
The petitioners before the court had challenged an order passed by the trial court granting an extension of time for payment of deposit of court fees by invoking inherent powers under Section 151 CPC. The respondent’s plaint was rejected on account of non-payment of deficit court fees determined by the trial judge within the prescribed time period. Thereafter, the respondent resorted to an application simplicitor under Section 151 CPC seeking extension of time to pay such court fees for restoration of suit. The trial court allowed the application and extended time for deposit of deficit court fees and consequentially restored the suit.
The petitioner urged that the order rejecting a plaint amounted to a deemed decree and hence, the only remedy to set aside such an order was institution of an appeal.
The Bombay High Court held and acknowledged that institution of appeal is the most appropriate remedy against an order rejecting the plaint for failure to deposit court fees within prescribed time. However, held that when there is no challenge to the demanded court fees, an application simplicitor seeking extension of time to pay such court fees can be filed under Section 151 CPC.
The court further observed that the respondent did not contest the order at any point but only sought for extension of time to comply with the direction for payment of deficit court fees. It then opined that the trial judge exercised its discretion fairly, without any unreasonableness. The court therefore concurred with the decision of the trial court and dismissed the petition.