Recently, The Delhi High Court sought the BBC's stand on a suit moved by a public trust called Justice on Trial, which claimed that a documentary by the news organisations on Narendra Modi "casts a slur on the reputation of the country" and "makes false and defamatory imputations and insinuations against the Prime Minister of India".
2. Key points
- The Documentary, India: the Modi Question, was released in January this year.
- Justice For All is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act.
- Additionally, it is registered as a public trust under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, of 1950.
- In this case, the plaintiff had filed a "Suit for damages", under Order 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) "seeking permission to file as an indigent person".
3. About Indigent person
- According to Black's Law Dictionary, an "indigent" person is "one who is needy and poor or one who has not sufficient property to furnish him a living nor anyone able to support him and to whom he is entitled to look for support.
- Under Indian law, Order 33 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, deals with suits filed by indigent persons.
- Under Rule 1, Order 33, CPC, an indigent person is one who "is not possessed of sufficient means (other than property exempt from attachment in execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit) to enable him to pay the fee prescribed by law for the plaint in such suit, or where no such fee is prescribed, if he is not entitled to property worth one thousand rupees other than the property exempt from attachment in the execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit.
- The 2001 Supreme Court ruling in "Union Bank of India vs Khader International" held that "the word 'person' in order XXXIII includes not only a natural person but other juridical persons.
- Earlier, the suits filed by indigent persons were also referred to as "pauper suits" and they can be filled only by those who are unable to pay on account of poverty.
4. Rejection of the suit by an indigent person
Under Rule 5 of Order 33, the grounds for rejecting an indigent person's application to sue have been laid down as follows:
- Where the application is not framed and presented in the manner prescribed by Rules 2 and 3, which determine the content and manner of presenting an application
- Where the applicant is not an indigent person
- Where he has, within two months before the presentation of the application, disposed of any property fraudulently or to be able to apply for permission to sue as an indigent person.
- Where his allegations do not show a cause of action
- Where he has entered into any agreement concerning the subject matter of the proposed suit under which any other person has obtained an interest in such subject matter.
- Where the allegations made in the application show that the suit would be barred by any law for the time being in force
- Where any other person has agreed with him to finance the litigation.
5. Failure of a suit filed by the indigent person
- If an "indigent person" succeeds, Rule 10 of Order 33 states that the court fees shall be recoverable by the State Government from any party ordered by the decree to pay the same and "shall be a first charge on the subject matter of the suit".
- However, Rule 11 of Order 33, CPC, says that if an indigent person fails in the suit or the permission granted to him to sue as an indigent person is withdrawn or the suit is withdrawn or dismissed, the indigent person will be required to pay the court fees.
- This provision has often been criticised on account of its "unjustness" in making the poor pay, which might consequently prevent them from approaching the court.
For Prelims: CPC, Indigent person, Code of Civil Procedure, Societies Registration Act, Bombay Public Trusts Act,
1. Who is an Indigent person? Discuss the reasons for the rejection of a suit filed by an Indigent person. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Which one of the following statement/s is/are not correct? (MPSC Subordinate Services 2019)
(a) The Sahitya Akademi was founded in March 1954.
(b) It was registered as a society in 1956, under the Societies Registration Act 1860.
(c) Its head office is in Mumbai.
(d) The Akademi has recognised 24 Languages.
1. only A 2. only C 3. C and D 4. only B
2. In India, Legal Services Authorities provide free legal services to which of the following type of citizens? (UPSC 2020)
1. Person with an annual income of less than Rs.1,00,000
2. Transgender with an annual income of less than Rs. 2,00,000
3. Member of Other Backward Classes (OBC) with an annual income of less than Rs. 3,00,000 4. All Senior Citizens Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. 1 and 2 only B. 3 and 4 only C. 2 and 3 only D. 1 and 4 only
Source: The Indian Express