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Bar on civil suits under CPC

Introduction

 

The Civil Procedure Code, 1908, is a procedural legislation that deals with cases of civil nature in India. The main objective behind this code is to enforce the civil rights and provide remedies to those who approach the court of law. This code also guarantees the fair justice by upholding the rights and liabilities.  In a society, every person had the freedom to enjoy his rights enshrined under the constitution or any other statutory rights.

In case of violation of any of his rights, he has every right to approach the court of law and seek appropriate remedy for the same. But, it requires a specific procedure, and that is what the code actually deals with. 

At the same time, suits can be barred depending upon various factors.  In order to file a case before a Court of law, jurisdiction is very important. In the statute itself, the jurisdiction of the matter is mention. The parties did not fulfill the statutory condition and the rules, then in such circumstance, the Court could not entertain any such case[1].

 

Background of the Civil Procedure Code

Our country has an eminent history with respect to the court and the working mechanism. We find it during the medieval period and modern period in the form of Adalats both for the civil and criminal case. In 1859, during the British Raj uniform civil procedure was adopted by the courts.  

In 1861, the Supreme Courts and Sadar Diwani Adalats were abolished, and the Indian High Courts Act was passed. The Supreme Courts of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were supplanted with the High Courts. The 1859 Civil Procedure Code was altered and supplanted by the Civil Procedure Code, 1877.  This code was again revised in 1878 and 1879, and the third Civil Procedure Code was established in 1882. This code was also revised, and the final Act came into effect in the year 1908[2].

This Code was further amended, and key changes were made in the year 1976. Later on, the Justice Malimath Committee was appointed for conducting research upon the working mechanism of the courts in disposing of cases. Based on the recommendations of the committee, subsequent amendments were made in 1999 and 2002 as well[3].  

 

Bar on Civil Suit

Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code confers jurisdiction of the courts to decide the matters which are there for adjudication. A Concerned civil court could try all the civil suits unless they are barred. A party can file a suit if he had a sustainable cause of action.  The civil courts can entertain the matter unless the suit is barred. For example, section 22 of the Payment of Wages act, 1936 bars the jurisdiction of civil courts to entertain matters relating to wages. 

At the same time section 293 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 provides that, no suit shall be brought in any civil court to set aside or modify any proceeding was taken or order made under the Income Tax Act. Also, no prosecution, suit or other proceedings shall lie against the Government or any officer of the Government for anything in good faith done or intended to be done under this Act[4].

Similar to the Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, 1948 also bars civil court’s jurisdiction under section 24. These are examples of the implied bar on civil suits. Hence, jurisdiction is a most important aspect while filing a civil suit.

At the same time, section 151 of the Civil Procedure Code gives inherent power to the courts to determine jurisdiction. But, it is opined by Justice Shekhar B Saraf that the High Courts must exercise its inherent powers under section 151 of the Code on equitable considerations, rather than confining to a narrow, pedantic view[5].

Under section 10 of the Code, a suit can be stayed. 

Rule of res sub-judice

under this rule, It does not allow the court of law to entertain two suits filed on the same subject matter and for the same relief between the same parties. The Courts will stay such kind of suits. This doctrine protects the party from the multiplicity of proceedings. The Competent court is empowered to bar subsequent suit only and not the previous one[6]. There are certain conditions to be fulfilled for a stay of the suit.

1. There must be two suits on the same subject matter and involves same question of law i.e. parallel litigation.

2. The suits must be pending before a competent court. The court must have competency to grant the relief claimed by the party in the second suit.

3. Parties to the suits must be same and they must be litigating under the same title.

 

Another type of bar on suits is based on the doctrine of res judicata.

This was extensively dealt under section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code. According to this section, an issue or a point that has been already decided by the court based on merits, the same matter should not be re-agitated. The main objective behind this doctrine is to prevent re-litigation when the issues were once determined by the competent courts judiciously. This should not be confused with the concept of appeal. There is no bar for filing an appeal, but re-litigating on the same matter that was already decided on merits is barred under this section. This doctrine is based on three fundamental maxims.

1. Nemo Debit Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadum Causa (No man should be vexed twice for the same cause)

2. Interest Republicae Us Sit Finis Litium (It is the interest of the state that there should be an end to litigation)

3. Res Judicatapro Vertitate Occipitar (A judicial decision must be accepted as correct).

The doctrine of res judicata was often considered as the principle of estoppel[7]. It is also considered that the judgment pronounced by the competent court is an essential part of the rule of law[8].

Apart from these, If a particular suit is not filed within the limitation period, then that suit can be barred based on limitation. Also, the civil court’s jurisdiction is barred in matters relating to the SARFAESI Act, 2002. Section 34 of the said Act provides, only Debt Recovery Tribunal or the Appellate Tribunal[9].

 

Conclusion

Jurisdiction is an important aspect. Section 9 of the Code provides jurisdiction of all courts unless they are barred. It is therefore clear that the jurisdiction of the civil court does not extend to all matters. It is limited to certain cases only. But the courts have inherent powers to look into the matter. But that power must be used for the purpose of meeting the ends of justice.

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[1]Ohene Moore v. Akesseh Tayee, AIR 1935 PC 5 (B).

[2]https://legodesk.com/legopedia/code-of-civil-procedure-1908/, last visited on 18th May, 2020.

[3]https://www.legalbites.in/history-of-the-code-of-civil-procedure/, last visited on 18th May, 2020.

[4]Shri S.P.Goyal v. The Director of Income Tax, (2006) 202 CTR Del 169.

[5]Tata Chemicals Ltd. v. M/S Kshitish Bardhan Chunilal Nath and Ors., https://indiankanoon.org/doc/38113540/, last visited on 19th May, 2020.

[6]GC Care Centre & Hospital v. OP Care Pvt. Ltd, AIR 2004 SC 2339.

[7]Ishwar Dutt v. Land Acquisition Collector, AIR 2005 SC 3165.

[8]Daryao and others v. The State of U.P and others, AIR 1961 SC 1457.

[9]Bhaiyalal Tiwari v. Central Bank of India, AIR 2014 MP 57.

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