The Bombay High Court has read down Rule 5 of the Debts and Recovery Tribunal (Refund of Court fees) Rules, 2013 to mean that once the DRT itself on the application of mind has permitted the applicant in an Original Application refund of Court fees, and when the entitlement for refund of Court fees itself has been fixed by judicial order, it would not be permissible for the Registrar of the DRT to insist that a joint application ought to be presented for refund of Court fees.

“…we are of the clear opinion that Rule 5(1) providing for refund of Court fees cannot be read so as to defeat and/or frustrate any entitlement of the applicant for refund of Court fees as may be permissible under the provisions of Rule 4 as noted above. Merely because the Defendant is not coming forward or is not available or he does not intend or is not agreeable for giving his consent for a joint application to be presented for refund of Court fees, cannot defeat the legal rights of the applicant like the Petitioner to receive the Court fees”, observed a bench Justice G.S. Kulkarni and Justice Rajesh S. Patil in the matter.

Advocate Vishal Tambat appeared for the petitioner, and Advocate Savita S. Ganoo appeared for the respondent.

In this case, Yes Bank had advanced a loan to one of its borrowers, who had defaulted in its repayment. Consequently, it filed recovery proceedings before the Debt Recovery Tribunal-II, Mumbai.

However, after the filing of the said proceedings, a settlement was arrived between the parties. Therefore, the petitioner filed an interlocutory application to withdraw the proceedings.

On March 7, 2019, the interlocutory application was heard by DRT-II, Mumbai, where the borrower did not appear. But the petitioner was allowed to withdraw and was directed to follow the procedure for refund of court fees as per the refund of court fees rules

However, on filing an application for refund of Court Fees before the DRT-II, Mumbai on June 18, 2022 while passing an order observed that the Applicant and the Defendant should file a joint Application for refund of court fees as per rules. Therefore, as the Petitioner/Applicant had not submitted a joint Application, hence, the application would not be processed further.

The Court thus after considering the relevant submissions and the contentions by the respective parties, allowed the petition.

However, even made it clear that the same would not mean that in cases where the Registrar has any doubt on materials that the applicant does not himself/itself become entitled for refund of Court fees or if the judicial order does not grant a clear refund of Court fees to the plaintiff alone, then in such cases, requirement of joint application can be insisted.

“However, to blanketly read Rule 5(1) to mean that in every case a joint application is necessary for grant of refund of court fees, would not only defeat the entitlement to the refund of Court fees, but is also likely to be contrary to the judicial order passed by the DRT/DRAT granting refund of Court fees”, the order further read.

Cause Title: Yes Bank Limited v. Union Of India

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