Decided on September 22,2003

VASUDEVAN V.A. Appellant


- (1.) The main question arises for consideration in this case is as to whether the petitioner is entitled for refund of the full court fee paid in the suit which was ultimately referred to the Lok Adalat and settled between the parties?
(2.) Suit O.S. 293/1999 on the file of the Principal Sub Court, Thalassery was filed by the petitioner as plaintiff for specific performance of the contract. The only contesting defendant was the 8th defendant in the suit; the right of the other defendants having been purchased by the 7th defendant during the pendency of the suit. Petitioner preferred two applications before the Court as 1577/2002 and I.A. 1578/2002. I .A. 1577/2002 was an application seeking reference of the suit to the Lok Adalat organised by the Thalassery Taluk Legal Services Committee constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act. That was allowed and the matter was referred. LA. 1578/2002 was an application filed under Section 16 of the Court-fees Act, 1870 as amended by the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1999 praying to refund the Court fee already paid by him. However, no orders were passed on I.A. 1578/2002 at that time. The matter was settled between the parties as evidenced by Exts, P1 and P1(2) produced in this writ petition. Ext. P1(2) is a statement of compromise arrived at between the plaintiff (petitioner) and the 7th defendant in the suit before the Lok Adalat (Legal Services Authority), Thalassery. The statement of compromise shows that the dispute has been settled between the plaintiff and the 7th defendant in the Lok Adalat on 10-8-2002 and in view of the settlement. Plaintiff withdrew the suit against the defendants and he does not have any claim against the defendants on the subject matter of the suit. It was also agreed that full court fee paid may be ordered to be refunded. Based on the compromise as referred to above. Ext. P1 order was passed by the Lok Adalat consisting of a Judicial member and two others. The statement of compromise referred to above, was ordered to form part of the award. The order also refers to the fact that the cause referred to the Lok Adalath for settlement of the dispute between the parties after full and frank discussion of all factual and legal issues arising from the case, and the parties have agreed to settle the dispute and to award a decree in terms of the settlement. Accordingly, it was ordered that the statement of compromise filed on that day shall form part of the award and that the suit be. on the same is dismissed as withdrawn in terms of the compromise without cost. It is specifically ordered that the plaintiff can approach the Court for refund of the court fee under the law.
(3.) This order was passed on 10-8-2002. Petitioner thereafter moved for passing orders on I.A. 1578/2002 which was already pending before the Court claiming refund of the court fee under Section 16 of the Court- fees Act, 1870 as amended by Section 34 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act. 1999. The Subordinate Judge. Thalassery, as per Ext. P2 order allowed only 50% of the court fees to be refunded to the petitioner, holding that as per Section 69 of the Court-fees Act, the plaintiff is entitled to get the refund of half of the court fee when the suit is compromised- Aggrieved thereby, petitioner has preferred this writ petition.;

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