The Kerala High Court in the case Shybu B. v. Sajeev observed that when a civil court has referred parties to a civil suit to mediation under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, there is an obligation to await the mediation report before passing of further orders in the suit.
While adjudicating the matter, the bench comprising of Justice C.S. Dias observed and decided as to weather the court below had erred in dismissing the suit as ‘not pressed’. Further, the bench observed that it is statutory that when a suit is settled under Section 89 of the Code, without adjudication, the plaintiff is entitled for refund of the entire court fee as provided under Section 69 (A) of the Kerala Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1959.
In the present petition, the original petition had been filed to set aside the order of the Munsiff Court refusing refund of the court fee.
The petitioner and respondent in the instant case, who are the plaintiff and the defendant respectively to the civil suit, were referred for mediation during the pendency of the suit.
Thereafter, they were able to reach a settlement and entered into a memorandum of agreement before the mediator, who was attached to the District Mediation Centre, Kollam. An interlocutory Application is filled by the petitioner for refund of the court fee paid as provided under Section 69(A) of the Kerala Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act. Therefore, the Munsiff Court dismissed upon holding that since the suit was dismissed as ‘not pressed’, the petitioner was not entitled to any refund of court fees. Before the High Court, when the matter came up for hearing, the court noticed that even before the mediation report was received, the plaintiff had filed a memo stating that the suit may be dismissed as ‘not pressed’ in the Munsiff Court. It was in this light that the Munsiff Court had suo motu advanced the case and the suit was dismissed.
It was held by the court that the order passed by the Munsiff Court was erroneous, since the latter did not await for the mediation report before passing further orders. The Court observed that the suit ought to have been disposed of as per the terms and conditions stipulated in the mediation agreement, rather than dismissing the mediation agreement as not pressed. Thus, the court observed that since a decree had already been passed in the Suit, the appropriate remedy for the petitioner would be to seek for a review of the decree, than assail an ancillary order.
Additionally, it is directed by the court that since suit is settled under Section 89 of the Code, without adjudication, the plaintiff is entitled for refund of the entire court fee as provided under Section 69 (A) of the Kerala Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act, 1959.
Advocate M.R. Sarin represented the petitioner.