Costs (Section 35 – 35B)

Section 35: Costs.—

(1) Subject to such conditions and limitations as may be prescribed, and to the provisions of any law for the time being in force, the costs of and incident to all suits shall be in the discretion of the Court, and the Court shall have full power to determine by whom or out of what property and to what extent such costs are to be paid, and to give all necessary directions for the purposes aforesaid. The fact that the Court has no jurisdiction to try the suit shall be no bar to the exercise of such powers.

(2) Where the Court directs that any costs shall not follow the event, the Court shall state its reasons in writing.


Section 35-A: Compensatory costs in respect of false or vexatious claims or defences.—

(1) If in any suit or other proceeding, including an execution proceeding but excluding an appeal or a revision, any party objects to the claim or defence on the ground that the claim or defence or any part of it is, as against the objector, false or vexatious to the knowledge of the party by whom it has been put forward, and if thereafter, as against the objector, such claim or defence is disallowed, abandoned or withdrawn in whole or in part, the Court, if it so thinks fit, may, after recording its reasons for holding such claim or defence to be false or vexatious, make an order for the payment to the objector by the party by whom such claim or defence has been put forward, of costs by way of compensation.

(2) No Court shall make any such order for the payment of an amount exceeding three thousand rupees or exceeding the limits of its pecuniary jurisdiction, whichever amount is less:

Provided that where the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of any Court exercising the jurisdiction of a Court of Small Causes under the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887 (9 of 1887) or under a corresponding law in force in any part of India to which the said Act does not extend and not being a Court constituted under such Act or law, are less than two hundred and fifty rupees, the High Court may empower such Court to award as costs under this section any amount not exceeding two hundred and fifty rupees and not exceeding those limits by more than one hundred rupees:

Provided, further, that the High Court may limit the amount which any Court or class of Courts is empowered to award as costs under this section.

(3) No person against whom an order has been made under this section shall, by reason thereof, be exempted from any criminal liability in respect of any claim or defence made by him.

(4) The amount of any compensation awarded under this section in respect of a false or vexatious claim or defence shall be taken into account in any subsequent suit for damages or compensation in respect of such claim or defence.


Section 35-B: Costs for causing delay.—

(1) If, on any date fixed for the hearing of a suit or for taking any step therein, a party to the suit—

(a) fails to take the step which he was required by or under this Code to take on that date, or

(b) obtains an adjournment for taking such step or for producing evidence or on any other ground,

the Court may, for reasons to be recorded, make an order requiring such party to pay to the other party such costs as would, in the opinion of the Court, be reasonably sufficient to reimburse the other party in respect of the expenses incurred by him in attending the Court on that date, and payment of such costs, on the date next following the date of such order, shall be a condition precedent to the further prosecution of—

(a) the suit by the plaintiff, where the plaintiff was ordered to pay such costs,

(b) the defence by the defendant, where the defendant was ordered to pay such costs.

Explanation.—Where separate defences have been raised by the defendants or groups of defendants, payment of such costs shall be a condition precedent to the further prosecution of the defence by such defendants or groups of defendants as have been ordered by the Court to pay such costs.

(2) The costs, ordered to be paid under sub-section (1), shall not, if paid, be included in the costs awarded in the decree passed in the suit; but, if such costs are not paid, a separate order shall be drawn up indicating the amount of such costs and the names and addresses of the persons by whom such costs are payable and the order so drawn up shall be executable against such persons.


IMPORTANT CASE LAWS

1. Objective of the above mentioned sections in CPC

Vinod Seth v. Devinder Bajaj, (2010) 8 SCC 1: The provision for costs is intended to achieve the following goals:

(a) It should act as a deterrent to vexatious, frivolous and speculative litigations or defences. The spectre of being made liable to pay actual costs should be such, as to make every litigant think twice before putting forth a vexatious, frivolous or speculative claim or defence.

(b) Costs should ensure that the provisions of the Code, the Evidence Act and other laws governing procedure are scrupulously and strictly complied with and that parties do not adopt delaying tactics or mislead the court.

(c) Costs should provide adequate indemnity to the successful litigant for the expenditure incurred by him for the litigation. This necessitates the award of actual costs of litigation as contrasted from nominal or fixed or unrealistic costs.

(d) The provision for costs should be an incentive for each litigant to adopt alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes and arrive at a settlement before the trial commences in most of the cases. In many other jurisdictions, in view of the existence of appropriate and adequate provisions for costs, the litigants are persuaded to settle nearly 90% of the civil suits before they come up to trial.

(e) The provisions relating to costs should not however obstruct access to courts and justice. Under no circumstances the costs should be a deterrent, to a citizen with a genuine or bona fide claim, or to any person belonging to the weaker sections whose rights have been affected, from approaching the courts.

At present these goals are sought to be achieved mainly by Sections 35, 35-A and 35-B read with the relevant civil rules of practice relating to taxing of costs.


  1. Nature of Section 35-B of CPC

Kasi Biswanath Dev v. Paramananda Routrai, : AIR 1982 Ori 80:  

Section 35-B of the Code is admittedly a procedural provision. Undoubtedly, it was introduced into the statute with a view to controlling the conduct of parties in litigations.


CONNECTED ORDERS

Order XX-A

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