“Access to justice cannot be denied to anyone merely because he does not have the means to pay the prescribed fee” as observed by Apex Court. The provisions of Indigent person were instituted in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, for the poor people to seek justice without payment of any court fees. Order 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with the Provisions of Indigent Person. Generally, an individual who institutes suit has to pay a prescribed Court fee. But sometimes the person is very poor and enables them to pay the prescribed court fee. So, this provision of Code of Civil procedure, 1908, allows a person to institute suit without payment of court fee and proceed with him as a pauper or an indigent person. But, subject to the conditions provided under the same provision of Code of Civil procedure, 1908.
WHO IS INDIGENT PERSON OR PAUPER
An indigent is a person,
- Who is not having sufficient means to pay the prescribed fee.
- In case the court fee is not prescribed, the person not having the property more than worth 1000Rs.
But while calculating the sufficient means, the property exempted from attachment in execution of the decree, shall not be included. If any person who has acquired any property after the presentation of the application and before the decision of it shall be included while calculating the sufficient means.
INQUIRY INTO THE MEANS OF INDIGENT PERSON
The Chief Ministerial Officer shall make an inquiry about whether the person is indigent or not. The court may take into account the results of inquiry or may make inquiry itself. When the application is made in proper form, the court may examine the applicant regarding the merits of the claim and property of the applicant. When there is no ground with the court to reject the application, may fix a day to adduce evidence about the indigency of that person. But before fixing the date, the court shall have to give notice to the opposite party and Public Prosecutor of at least 10 days. After hearing the argument the court may admit or reject the application.
CONTENT OR PRESENTATION OF APPLICATION
The application for permission to sue as an agent shall contain the following things:
- The particulars required in the plaint.
- Schedule of movable or immovable property
- Signature and Verification.
The application shall be made in person unless the court exempts to appear before it. When there are two or more plaintiffs, the application can be made by anyone of them.
REJECTION OF APPLICATION
The application for the permission to proceed as an indigent person may be rejected on the following basis:
- If the application not presented in proper form and prescribed manner;
- The applicant is not an indigent person;
- The applicant has disposed off his property before two months of presentation of application in order to get permission fraudulently;
- The allegation in the plaint is not showing any cause of action;
- The applicant has entered into an agreement in regard to the subject matter of the suit;
- If the suit barred by law;
- Any other person makes an agreement with him to finance.
IF THE PERMISSION GRANTED
If the permission to sue as an indigent person is granted, the application shall be considered as a plaint in a suit. The Central Government or State Government may provide him free legal services, in addition, to sue as a pauper.
IF THE PERMISSION NOT GRANTED
When the Court does not grant permission to sue as a pauper, it will give time to the applicant to pay the court fee. And after the rejection of the application, the subsequent application for the same purpose shall not be entrained.
REVOCATION OF PERMISSION
The court may withdraw the permission granted above on the grounds:
- Where the applicant is guilty of vexatious or improper conduct.
- If it appears to the court that he has sufficient means to continue the suit in an ordinary manner.
- If the applicant has entered into an agreement with any person who has an interest in the subject matter of the suit.
If the plaintiff (indigent person) succeeds in his suit, the court shall calculate the costs of suit and recover from the party as ordered by the court. The recovery shall be made by Collector as directed by State Government.
If the plaintiff does not succeed, then all costs shall be recovered from the plaintiff and if the suit abates because of the death of the plaintiff, the costs shall be recovered from the property of the deceased.
(The order of rejection of permission to sue as an indigent person is an appealable order.)
APPEALS BY INDIGENT PERSON
An indigent person may file an appeal on all grounds as available to any ordinary person. And, he may also file cross-objections.