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Suit by Indigent Person in CPC

Updated: May 5

Suit by Indigent Person in CPC


CPC Provisions

Order 33, CPC facilitates the filing of suits by individuals facing financial hardship. It grants those unable to afford court fees the opportunity to initiate legal actions without such financial burdens. Its essence lies in empowering financially disadvantaged individuals to pursue and uphold their rights within the legal system without the obligation of paying court fees.

Typically, when a plaintiff brings a case before a court, they are required to cover the prescribed court fees as per the Court Fees Act. However, there are circumstances where an individual may lack the financial means to meet these requirements.

Order 33 addresses this by exempting such individuals from the initial payment of court fees, enabling them to proceed with their suit in forma pauperis, provided they meet specific conditions outlined within this order.

Order 33 serves a threefold purpose:

1. Safeguarding the legitimate claims of financially disadvantaged individuals.

2. Ensuring the protection of revenue interests.

3. Shielding defendants from unwarranted harassment.

Who is an Indigent Person in CPC?

An individual qualifies as an "indigent person" if they lack the means to pay the legally prescribed fee for filing a suit or, in cases where no such fee is designated, if their property does not exceed the value of one thousand rupees.

In both scenarios, the property exempt from execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit are excluded from consideration.

Furthermore, any property acquired by the applicant subsequent to the submission of the application to sue as an indigent person and the subsequent decisions made should be factored into the determination of their indigent status.

The term "person" encompasses both natural and juristic persons. The phrase "sufficient means" refers to an individual's capacity to raise funds through lawful means to cover court fees under normal circumstances. Assets exempt from execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit are not factored into this assessment.

However, factors such as employment status, total income including pension benefits, realisable assets, and financial assistance from family or friends may be considered in determining whether the individual possesses sufficient means to pay the required court fees.


Procedural Aspects of Indigent Suit

Contents of Application

Each application seeking permission to sue as an indigent person must include the following details:

1. The necessary particulars as required for plaints in suits.

2. A list detailing any movable or immovable property owned by the applicant, along with their estimated values.

3. The application must be signed and verified in accordance with the provisions outlined in Order 6, Rules 14 and 15.

The applicant is typically required to personally present the application to the court, unless exempted by the court. In cases where there are multiple plaintiffs, the application may be presented by any one of them. It's important to note that the commencement of the suit occurs at the moment the application to sue in forma pauperis is submitted.


Rejection of Application

The court will dismiss an application for permission to sue as an indigent person under the following circumstances:

1. If the application is not structured and presented in the prescribed manner.

2. If, within two months prior to the submission of the application, the applicant has disposed of any property deceitfully or with the intent to obtain permission to sue as an indigent person.

3. If the applicant does not meet the criteria of being an indigent person.

4. If there is no valid cause of action.

5. If the applicant has engaged in an agreement regarding the subject matter of the suit, resulting in another individual gaining an interest.

6. If the suit appears to be legally barred.

7. If any other individual has entered into an agreement with the applicant to cover the costs of litigation.

Recovery of Court Fee

A) When the indigent person succeeds: If the plaintiff, who is an indigent person, prevails in the suit, the court will assess the amount of court fees and costs and then recover them from the appropriate party according to the court's directive.

B) When the indigent person fails: In cases where the plaintiff, who is an indigent person, does not succeed or the suit comes to an end without resolution, the court will mandate the plaintiff to cover the court fees and costs.


  • The State Government holds the right to recover court fees and is considered a party to the suit for this purpose.

  •  Realisation of court fees: Rule 14 specifies that if an indigent person succeeds in the suit, the State Government can reclaim court fees from the appropriate party as directed in the decree, with this taking precedence as the first charge on the subject matter of the suit. Conversely, if the indigent person fails in the suit, they are responsible for paying the court fees. In cases where the suit terminates due to the death of the plaintiff, the court fees will be collected from the estate of the deceased plaintiff.


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