• Legis Scriptor

A Suit By An Indigent Person

Authored by Sulakshana Pawar

Keywords: Weaker section- equality- justice- legal aid- legal services- nominal fees.


To make sure that every person from a weaker section deserves equality and justice it is also necessary for them to be in such position to get their rights and equality in the society and should also be beneficial for proper defence before held liable, Legal Aid is the ray of hope. It helps them with nominal fees for legal matters in the court for both civil and criminal cases.


There are people in our country who cannot even earn well for their basic needs. In such situations, they hardly think about justice and equality. To ensure that they get an equal opportunity in the society Legal Aid comes forward. CPC has some provisions that are provided for them in in order 33.

Order33 helps a person to file a suit who is an indigent person.

Indian constitution and Legal Aid:

The main cornerstone of our democratic system is equal to justice. The Preamble itself says that one has right in securing justice, social, political and economic rights. It is embodied in Article 14 and Article 38 even though it is not expressly granted as Fundamental right.

Poverty and illiteracy should not be the reason for not approaching the court or not getting justice. Equality protection is totally denied if they are not able to face it only because of financial issues. Hence, Legal Aid plays a vital role in the administration of justice. Various seminars, conferences, programmes, are conducted to spread awareness.

Article 39A of the Indian Constitution states that provisions are made regarding Legal Aid and State should adopt such measures and provide the facilities mentioned accordingly.

Provisions for a suit by Indigent person:

Order 33 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 by amendment 1976 provides suit by indigent persons.

If the application to sue as an indigent person is granted then the plaintiff is not liable to pay any legal fees or court fees or proceeding fees. Now, this benefit is available to the defendant also in Order Rule 17, Amended 1976.

This provision is having a reference to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which provides that the right to life includes right to free legal aid. Article 39A is also inserted in the Constitution by Amendment of 1976.


Order 33 has a provision that helps a person to prosecute suits without payment of court fees. Generally, a plaintiff suing in a court of law is bound to pay court fees and other such expenses. This order helps a person from exempting court fees and allows a person to prosecute the suit according to the certain conditions which are laid down and fulfilled.

Explanation of indigent person:

Every person who applies for the permission to sue the indigent person should contain the following particulars:

· The particulars regarding plain of suits is required.

· The applicant should have a schedule of movable or immovable property and its value.

· In Order 6, Rules 14 and 15 signatures and verifications are provided.

Rejection of the application:

Rejection of application is provided in Rule 5. Following are the reasons where the court rejects the application:

· If in the prescribed manner the application is not presented.

· When the person who applies for the application is not an indigent person.

· If there is the disposal of property by the applicant within the two months of application presented.

· If the suit is barred by law.

· Where there is an agreement between the applicant and other persons regarding the finance costs of the litigation.


Rule 1A gives information regarding the inquiry. The inquiry of the applicant is done by the Chief Ministerial Officer of the court in the first instance. The court may make inquiries of such an application.

When an application is presented properly court shall consider the merits of the property and issue a notice to the opposite party for receiving evidence. The court shall examine the witnesses on the date of the examination that is been fixed.

Permission granted:

Permission is granted in Rules 8 to 9. When an indigent person issued by the applicant in ordinary manner court proceedings are started. The plaintiff shall not pay the court fees. The Central Government and State Government shall make provisions regarding the fees.

Permission rejected:

The applicant gets some time to pay the court fees if the court rejects the application of an indigent person. If the costs are paid by the Government then the applicant can ordinarily sue an indigent person.

Revocation of the permission:

Rule 9 states about the revocation of the permission. The revocation of an application by the defendant and Government pleader to sue an indigent person in the following cases:

· Where there is an improper course of a suit or he is guilty of vexatious

· Where he is not able to continue to sue an indigent person because of his means.

· Where there is an agreement made with another person regarding the interest of the same subject matter.

Realization of court-fees:

The state government can recover the fees from an indigent persons if the indigent person succeeds in the suit. And the court fees shall be paid by him if he fails the suit. When the suit abates the death of the plaintiff then from the estate of the deceased person the court fees are recovered.

Appeals by indigent persons:

When a person is unable to pay the proceeding fees or court fees he can apply as an indigent person. Thus according to Order 33 whatever inquiry is necessary is granted or refused by the rules prescribed and followed. No fresh inquiry is necessary if the appellant is allowed to sue an indigent person according to files if he continues to be an indigent person.

Jugal Kishore vs. Dhanno Devi AIR 1973 SC 2508:

In this case, it was observed that the Supreme Court held that the suit by an indigent person commences from the very moment where the application is presented to sue in forma pauperis.

Dipo vs. Wassan Singh, AIR 1983 SC 846:

This case highlighted that application to sue an indigent person should be presented by the applicant to the court by the person according to the Supreme Court’s decision.


Order 33 is the provision that intends a person to prosecute suits without payment of fees. A person is considered as an indigent person if he is unable to pay the fees of court proceedings. The inquiry is done by Chief Ministerial Officer. If the applicant succeeds the suit state government is liable to recover court fees from the party. If the indigent person fails in the suit, court fees shall be paid by him.