How to file a civil suit in India

Author: Snehal Tanaji Shirke.

Introduction:

A civil case begins where an individual or entity claims that another individual or entity has failed to carry out a legal duty owed to the plaintiff and asks the court for relief. In simple terms when the dispute is not settled among the parties, they can approach the court by filing a suit in the court of law. The one who files a case is known as the “plaintiff” and the person against whom it is made is known as the “defendant”.

Essentials of the suit:

  • Parties to the suit
  • Subject matter in issue
  • Cause of action
  • Relief claimed[1]

Where to file a suit:

Before filing a suit one needs to know where to file the suit and he cannot randomly choose any of the courts.

It will be based on following-

  • Pecuniary jurisdiction
  • Territorial jurisdiction
  • Subject matter jurisdiction

Scope of Civil Procedure:

According to section 9 of CPC, the court shall have the jurisdiction to try all suits of civil nature except such suits which are either expressly or impliedly barred.[2]

Role of a plaintiff to file a civil suit in India:

  1. Filing of plaint:

It is the 1st step towards the initiation of the suit. The plaint contains a legal complaint of the plaintiff’s claim. In every plant, the contents of the civil suit are laid out.

Particulars of the plaint:

  • Name of the court
  • Name and address of both the parties
  • Cause of action
  • Relief
  • Value of the subject matter etc.
  • Vakalatnama:

A vakalatnama is the document empowering a lawyer to act for and on behalf of his client. Party filing a case may represent their own case personally without a lawyer, then he does not need vakalatnama.

Terms and conditions of Vakalatnama:

  • The client will bear all the costs and expenses incurred during the case.
  • The advocate is at liberty to withdraw or compromise the said case.
  • The client has the right to engage the other advocate at any stage at the place of the previous advocate.
  • The client cannot hold the advocate responsible.
  • Presentation of Plaint:

Plaint has to institute in the court before the CMO (Chief Ministerial Officer) along with the appropriate court fees.

Court fees:

The plaintiff is required to pay the court fees. It is based on the subject matter of the proceeding. The amount of court fees and stamp duty is different for each suit and it is mentioned in the Court fees stamp Act.

How proceedings are conducted[3]:

  • Hearing:

Once the plaint is instituted and requisite fees are paid proceeding will be conducted. The court will send notice to the opposite party if it thinks fit that there is merit in the case. In short, the summons is issued.

  • Written statement:

The opposite party is required to answer the plaint within 30 days from the date of summons however, such period can be extended up to 90 days.

  • Rejoinder:

This is the reply by the plaintiff to the written statement. Denial by the plaintiff must be specific and should not be vague. Here, it will be said that the pleadings are completed.

Filing of document and the role of Court[4]:

  • Filing of documents:

Both the parties are required to produce the documents. The documents which are admitted by the parties it shall be taken on record. It is mandatory that any document which is filed by the parties must be original and a copy of such document need to be given to the opposite party.

  • Framing of issues:

Issues are framed by the court on the basis of arguments and examination of witnesses. Issues may of 2 types i.e. issue of fact and issue of law. Those propositions of fact or law which a plaintiff must specifically allege in order to show a right to sue or a defendant must specifically allege in order to constitute his defense in such suit. 

  • Witnesses:

The parties either call the witness by themselves or can ask the court to send a summons. If the court sends summons to the witness the party who asked for sending summons is required to pay for the expenses. The witness will be examined by both the parties and after examination court will fix a date for the final hearing.

  • Final hearing:

The final arguments will take place and such arguments must only on the issues framed. Finally, the court will pass the final order.

  • Certified copy:

The final order was given by the court which is having a seal and the stamp of the court. Such copy is useful in the execution of the decree and for appeal.

Conclusion:

It can be concluded that the civil court has jurisdiction to try all suits of civil nature unless their cognizance is barred. Civil court has to follow the Civil Procedure Code,1908. Plaintiff should know the procedure and should take the assistance of an advocate to get the justice/relief. In case, the aggrieved party is not satisfied by the order of the lower or subordinate court, then he can further appeal to the higher court.


References

[1] https://www.academia.edu/40973892/LAW_OF_CIVIL_TRIAL_Institution_of_Suit_and_its_Essentials_Portrayal_of_the_Principles

[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313773602_CIVIL_JUSTICE_IN_INDIA/fulltext/58a72834aca27206d9ac398b/CIVIL-JUSTICE-IN-INDIA.pdf

[3] http://www.helplinelaw.com/civil-litigation-and-others/SUIP/procedure-for-filing-a-suitcase.html

[4] http://www.helplinelaw.com/civil-litigation-and-others/SUIP/procedure-for-filing-a-suitcase.html

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