SUITS BY INDIGENT PERSONS

ABSTRACT

Order XXXIII of CPC deals with the suits by indigent person. An indigent person is one who does not possess sufficient means to pay court fees and unable to proceed with any suit. Every application for permission to sue as indigent person must contain the report of his moveable and immoveable property, with the estimated value annexed with the application. When the application is in proper form and duly presented, the court, may think fit, examine the applicants or his agents and the application must be duly verified and signed by the applicants. The court has the power to reject or withdraw the application under order 33 even in the middle of the proceedings, if the court finds suitable grounds under Rule 5 & 9. If the application is duly admitted and accepted by the court the suit will be treated as any other normal suit and court may also provide the applicant a lawyer to represent him. If the applicant wins the suit the court will then decide who has to pay the court fees but if the respondent wins the case the court fees is payable by the applicants. If the application under Order XXXIII is rejected by any subordinate court the, the same is appealable.

WHO CAN FILE AN APPLICATION UNDER THIS PROVISION?

Any application may be filed by natural person or any judicial person who all fill within the ambit and are not barred by law in any manner. In landmark judgement held by Supreme Court 2011 ‘Union Bank of India vrs. Khader International Construction and Ors, juristic person can also avail the application under Order 33 of Civil Procedure Code. Order 33 enacts to help the proper people who do not possess sufficient means (other than the property exempted in Section 60) to pay the prescribed court fees by law in the suit filed by him. It cannot be the purpose of this legislation that the indigent person should first deprive himself of the sole means of livelihood or alienate all his assets and seek justice in penury. If the particular suit is pending and the applicant dies in between the same benefit won’t be granted to the legal heirs.

MEANING: INDIGENT PERSON

A person is an indigent person if he is not possessed of sufficient means (other than the property exempt from attachment in execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit) to enable to pay the fee prescribed by law for the plaint in such suit.

The concept is well explained in the case of Rabinder Singh VS. Maheshwar Rao, 1997 by Patna High Court that the person having sufficient means cannot be allowed to sue as an indigent person. It was further more clarity was brought by Orissa High Court in the MangluChattar vs. MaheswarBhoi in which it was stated that, the tools of artisans are exempted from attachment.

Where no such fees is prescribed, if he is not entitled to property worth one thousand rupees other than the property exempted from attachment in execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit.

CONTENTS, PRESENTATION & REJECTION OF THE APPLICATION

Every application filled by an indigent person should undergo proper filing process and shall contain the required regarding plaint in the suits. It should contain the details of any movable or immovable property possessed by the applicants and the estimated value of the property should be annexed with the application.

The application should be duly signed and verified by the applicant and thereafter should be presented before the court. It may also be presented by any authorized person who can answer all material question regarding the application. After the application is duly presented in proper manner the court has the power to examine the applicant or his agent. It depends on the discretion of the court which it shall deem fit, the court can either accept or reject the application .

There are several grounds on which the application may be rejected: –

  1. When the application is not framed in the manner prescribed by rule 2 or 3.
  2. When applicant is not indigent.
  3. If the person has frequently sold his property within two months next before the presentation of the application.
  4. No cause of action is arising of the application filed.
  5. If he has entered into an agreement with reference to the subject matter of the proposed suit under which any other person has obtained interest.
  6. If the application is barred by any law.
  7. If any other person has entered into an agreement with him the finance the litigation.

ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE AND PROCEDURE OF HEARING

When the court is satisfied with the application and sees no reasons to reject it on any of the grounds, a notice shall be given to the opposite party and government pleader atleast 10 days prior and a date shall be fixed for receiving such evidences as the application may adduce in proof of his indigency and for hearing any evidence which may be adduced in disproof thereof. After the admission of the required documents and evidence the court shall examine the witness produced by either party. After hearing all arguments and questions on the application and evidences.

The court shall then either allow or refuse to allow the application to sue as indigent person. When the application is granted, it shall be numbered and registered and shall be deemed the plaint in the suit, the suit shall proceed in any the ordinary manner just like other normal suit.

MathalBrijitha v. Thenkappan Nair, in a proceeding connected with the suit or appeal indigent plaintiff or appealing filing review petition need not to pay Court-fee. The court on the application of the defendant or the government pleader shall withdraw the permission granted to the plaintiff the sue as an indigent person on grounds of vexatious or improper conduct in the course of the suit else if the applicant got into an agreement with reference to the subject matter of the suit under which any third party has obtained interest.

Rule 9 provides for contingency where the plaintiff though originally permitted to sue as an indigent person ceases to be an indigent person subsequent to the institution of the suit. If the plaintiff ceases to be an indigent person, then he shall be ordered to pay the court fee which he would have done if he would have had to if a non-indigent person. It is a matter of discretion by the court if they would like to dispauper the plaintiff.

Application under this rule should be disposed of before the suit is decided. It is not sound practise to dispauper the plaintiff while the suit is going on. Where leave to sue was given after notice to the defendant, who did not appear, an application by him under this rule to dispauper the plaintiff on the ground that he was possessed of sufficient means on the date of application is not maintainable. The matter of pauperism is co-related with payment of court fees. The state government is principally concerned with the payment of court fees.

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