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CIVIL SUIT PROCEDURE




 

Introduction

Civil cases involve a conflict between people or institutions, generally over money. A civil suit begins when a legal person claims that he has been harmed by the actions of another person or business and asks the court for relief by filing a “complaint”. Most of the civil suits are guided by the well settled principles of the Code of Civil Procedure.

Stages of a Civil Case

Generally, there are six main stages involved in a civil lawsuit. These stages are listed below:

·         Pre Filing: The pre filing stage is when the dispute arises and the parties make demands, try to negotiate the matter between them without taking a legal recourse. However, if they fail to reach a resolution then the parties prepare for the possibility of a court action.

·         Initial Pleading: At this stage, one party files papers/documents i.e., a complaint to start the court action, and the other party files their response to such complaint i.e., a motion or an answer.

·         Discovery: At this stage, both the parties exchange documents and responses filed by them in court and learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case.

·         Pre- Trial: At this stage, both the parties start preparing for trial, they get their evidence and witnesses in order. Even at this stage they might engage in some out of court settlement conference, after such an attempt the parties may file motions with the court to resolve the case or to limit the issues for trial.  

·         Trial: At this stage, the case is actually heard by the judge or a jury (which may last for a couple of hours or a couple of months, depending on the complexity of the case), witnesses are examined, evidence is presented, and the case is eventually decided and a judgement is pronounced.

·         Post Trial: At this stage, one or both of the parties might file an appeal challenging the judgement passed.

However not every civil case follows these stages. Some cases like summary suits, have unique procedures that are set out in the Code of Civil Procedure.

Procedure for Filing a Civil case in India

There is a detailed process laid down in Code of Civil Procedure, for filing a civil case. However, if the process is not followed, then the “registry” has a right to dismiss the suit. “Registry here means an office which every court have which provides the information about any court matter and court forms”.

The procedure for filing a civil suit is as follows:

Filing of Suit/Plaint

The first step to initiate a suit is to file a plaint. A plaint is a written complaint or allegation. The party who files it is known as “plaintiff” and the party against whom it is filed is known as “Defendant”.

A Plaint contains:

·         Name of the Court

·         Name and Addresses of the parties between whom the dispute arose

·         Subject (a brief statement telling about the sections and orders under which the jurisdiction of the court is evoked)

·         Main Content or submissions made by plaintiff

·         Verification from plaintiff stating that the contents of the plaint are true and correct.

Vakalatnama

Vakalatnama is a written document, by which the parties to the suit authorises an Advocate to represent them before the Hon’ble Court. However, if the party is personally representing its own case, then they need not file a Vakalatnama.

Some of the General Terms and Conditions that a Vakalatnama may contain:

·         That the client will not hold the Advocate responsible for any decision  

·         That the client has to bear all the cost and expenses incurred during the proceedings

·         That the advocate will have a right to retain the documents, unless complete fees is paid

·         That the client is free to disengage the Advocate already appointed, at any stage of the Proceeding

·         That the advocate shall have all the rights, to take decisions on his own during the hearing in the court of Law, in the best interest of his client.

Filing of Plaint

Next step is filing of the plaint before Chief Ministerial Officer (Sherestedar) at the filing counter, along with appropriate court fee and process fee(For different types of documents, a person has to pay different amount of Court fees.)

Court Fees

Court fees is a nominal percentage of the total value of the claim or the value of the suit. The requisite amount of Court fees and stamp duty is different for every suit, and the same is mentioned in the “Court Fees Stamp Act”.

Some of them are as follows:

·         In case of plaint/written statement – Rs. 10 if the value of the suit exceed Rs. 5,000/- upto 10,000/-

·         In case of plaint filed in a suit for possession – Rs. 5

·         On a copy of a Decree or order – 50 paise

Court fees as per value of the Suit

·         If the value of the suit exceeds Rs. 1,50,000-1,55,000 – Rs. 1700/-

·         If the value of the suit exceeds Rs. 3,00,000-3,05,000 – Rs. 2450/-

·         If the value of the suit exceeds Rs. 4,00,000-4,05,000 – Rs. 2950/-

 

 

How proceedings are conducted

Hearing

If on the first day of hearing, the court thinks that there is merit in the case, it will issue a notice to the opposite party, calling upon him to submit their arguments on a date fixed by the court.

After the notice is issued the plaintiff is required to do the following:

·         File requisite amount of procedure-fee in the court.

·         File 2 copies of plaint for each defendant in the court

·         Of the 2 copies filed for each defendant, one copy shall be sent by Speed post/Courier/Regd. A.D. and the other copy shall be sent by Ordinary Post.

·         Such filing should be done within a period of seven days from the date of order/notice.

Written Statement by Defendant

·         Once the notice has been issued to the defendant, he is required to appear on the date mentioned in the notice. However, before appearing on the date, the defendant is required to file his “written statement” i.e., his defence against the allegation raised by the plaintiff.

·         The written statement should be filed within 30 days from the date of service of notice, or within such time as given by the court.

·         The maximum period that can be extended for filing of Written Statement is 90 days, after seeking permission of the court.

·         The written statement should specifically deny the allegations, which according to defendant is wrong and false. Any allegation, not specifically denied, is deemed to be admitted.

·         The written statement should also contain a verification from the Defendant, stating that, the content of the Written Statement are true and correct.

Replication by Plaintiff

The next step for plaintiff, once the Written Statement is filed by the Defendant, is to file a replication. Replication is a reply against the written statement, filed by the Plaintiff. The defences made by the Defendant in written statement is to be specifically denied by the Plaintiff in Replication. Anything which is not denied is deemed to be accepted.

Once the Replication is filed, the pleadings are stated to be complete.

Filing of Other Documents

After pleadings are completed and both the parties have filed their submissions, both the parties are given an opportunity to produce and file documents that are substantial to their claims. The procedure for filing other documents are as follows:

·         There may be a situation where documents filed by one party is admitted by the opposite party.

·         There can be another situation where the documents filed are denied by the opposite party. In that case it can be admitted by the witness produced by the party whose documents are denied.

·         Once the documents are admitted, it shall be taken on record and all the details of suit shall be inscribed on the document as per Order 13 Rule 49 of Code of Civil Procedure.

·         It is mandatory that any document which is filed by the parties must be “original” and a copy of such document shall be provided to the opposite party.

·         Any document which is not filed or produced cannot be relied on during final arguments.

Framing of Issues

·         The next stage in a civil proceeding is Framing of Issues. Issues are framed by the court on the basis of which arguments and examination of witnesses takes place.

·         Issues are framed, keeping in view the disputes in the suit, and the parties are not allowed to go outside the purview of ‘Issues”.

·         Issues framed may be of Fact or of Law.

·         At the time of passing final order, the court will deal with each issue separately, and will pass judgements on each issue.

List of Witness/Cross Examination

·         All the witnesses that the parties wish to produce, and examined, have to be presented before the court within 15 days from the date on which issues are framed or within such other period as the court may fix.

·         Both the parties to the suit have to file a list of witnesses.

·         The parties may either call the witnesses by themselves, or the court can ask the same by sending summons to witnesses.

·         In case summons are issued by the court, then the party who asked for such presence of a witness, has to deposit money with the court for their expenses. This money deposited is known as “Diet Money”.

·         On the date of hearing, the witnesses produced before the court will be examined by both the parties and once the cross examination is over at this stage the court will fix a date for final hearing.

Final Hearing

·         On the day of final hearing, the arguments takes place which should be strictly confined to the issues framed.

·         After hearing the final arguments of both the parties, the court shall pass a “final order”, either on the day of final hearing itself or on some other day fixed by the Court.

  • However, before the final arguments, the parties to the suit can amend their pleadings with the permission of the court.

Appeal, Reference and Review

When an order is passed against a party, such party can further initiate the proceedings by way of:

·         Appeal

·         Reference, or

·         Review

However, there are certain technicalities in filing an appeal, these are stated as follows:

·         In case the value of the suit does not exceed Rs. 10,000, an appeal can only be filed on the question of law

·         In case a decree is passed against the Defendant as “Ex-Parte” no appeal is allowed

Procedure for Appeal

1.     The appeal has to be filed in the prescribed form, signed by the appellant, along with a certified copy of the order

2.     If the appeal filed is against a decree for payment of money, the court may order the petitioner to deposit the disputed amount

3.     Any issue which was not taken up by the appellant, in lower court, cannot be subsequently taken up in the appeal filed. The appeal lies only against those points which have been decided by the lower court; whether they were correct or not.

 Thanks and RegardS

Adv. Mandeep Singh

Email. adv.msbhamrah@gmail.com

Mobile no. 8920674632 

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