Category Archives: Indian Laws Explained

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Introduction To Filing A Civil Suit In Delhi

What gives you the power to institute a Civil Suit before a Court of Law? Yup, Legal Rights! With everything materialistic you acquire, you also acquire certain legal rights pertaining to that. Say, you buy a property, so along with that property, you also acquire a legal right to the peaceful possession of that property, right to flow of natural light and air to that property, amongst other rights.

Now, what do you do if a person infringes your legal rights. Say for example, a person illegally takes possession of a property which belongs to you, or if a person owes you money but simply refuses to pay up. Yup, you talk to him, and try to argue out a solution. What if that fails? That’s where Lawyers come into the picture to sort things out for you and get back what’s rightfully yours to begin with. In a city like New Delhi, it’s not surprising to see a lot of Civil Suit pertaining to illegal possession of property or a Civil Suit for recovery of money.

Your legal journey begins by filing a Civil Suit/Plaint before a Competent Court which has the territorial and pecuniary ‘jurisdiction’ to entertain your claim. The person who institutes a Civil Suit is called a ‘Plaintiff’ and the person against whom such Suit is filed is called a ‘Defendant’.

Every Court has a limited geographical area over which it has jurisdiction, so depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, your Civil Suit would be filed before a Court which has the territorial jurisdiction. Say, if your cause of action arose in Saket, Malviya Nagar, Green Park, Lajpat Nagar or any area in South Delhi, then ‘Saket District Courts’ would be the Court which will have the territorial jurisdiction. The District Courts exercise jurisdiction only within their respective districts whereas a High Court can exercise jurisdiction over the territory of a particular state.

Now talking about the pecuniary (monetary) jurisdiction, it varies from one State to another. In Delhi, the Court of Civil Judge has the jurisdiction to try suits in which the amount claimed does not exceed Rs.3 Lacs, the Court of District Judge has the jurisdiction to try suits in which the amount claimed is more than Rs.3 Lacs but does not exceed Rs.20 Lacs, and the Delhi High Court has the jurisdiction to try suits in which the amount claimed is more than Rs.20 Lacs.

Basically a Plaint, amongst other things, contains the relevant facts of the case necessitating the filing of the Civil Suit, the claim of the Plaintiff, averments pertaining to the cause of action, and finally his prayer before the Court for grant of his claim. A ’cause of action’ literally means the cause or the set of circumstances which leads up to a Suit. A cause of action arises when a legal right is infringed.

Now the strength of a case is largely dependent upon how strong the drafting is, how the facts of the case and the claim sought has been presented in the Plaint. A poorly drafted Plaint, missing relevant facts, how and when the cause of action arose and the specific claim of the Plaintiff, has the potential to get dismissed at the admission stage itself.

It is also important that every person required for the adjudication of the Civil Suit, be made a ‘party’, either as a Plaintiff or a Defendant, as the case may be. A ‘necessary party’ is one whose presence is essential and in whose absence, no effective decree or order can be passed or made. A ‘proper party’ is one without whom a decree or order can be passed or made, but whose presence is necessary for an effectual and complete adjudication of the Suit.

Another important aspect to be kept in mind, specially by the person who wishes to institute a Civil Suit is that he has to keep in mind that the law provides for only a limited time frame in which a Suit can be instituted for a particular claim. That ‘time limit’, is known as the ‘Limitation Period’ and it is different for different kinds of cases and claims. It may be as short as 30 days and as long as 12 years in some cases.

A Suit cannot be instituted in any Court subsequent to the expiry of the limitation period. I often see a lot of Suits being dismissed at the very threshold only because they were filed after the expiry of the Limitation Period, specially when the Plaintiff is not even able to properly explain as to what prevented him from filing the Suit within the Limitation Period. So if one wishes to move the Court for enforcement of his legal rights, he should keep the aspect of Limitation Period in mind so as to keep the doors of the Court open for him.

This was only a very brief summary of certain aspects pertaining to institution of a Civil Suit. There are more aspects to this, which for obvious cannot be covered in a single post. This topic would be covered in detail in future posts.

  • Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.

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First Information Report – Section 154 CrPC Explained

FIR is an abbreviation of “First Information Report” and is provided under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and it is the first step to set the criminal law in motion so as to enable the investigating authorities to obtain information about the alleged criminal activity and to take necessary steps to trace and apprehend the guilty.

It is important to keep in mind that a First Information Report is lodged only to set the criminal law in motion by way of an investigation process and it does not constitute substantive evidence, however, it can be used as a first statement by its maker for verification or contradiction of the facts recorded in it.

The very purpose of a FIR is to obtain early information of an alleged criminal activity and to record the events and circumstances before the same are forgotten or even exaggerated.

Now the essential requirement for lodging a First Information Report is that there must be an information disclosing cognizable offence. “Cognizable Offence” simply means an offence of which the police officials have the authority to start an investigation without the permission of the Court and to make arrests without a warrant. Therefore, where an information relating to a cognizable offence is filed, the officer-in-charge of the police station is duty bound to register a FIR on the basis of the same. Non-registration of FIR by the police official is a clear negligence of his duty.

It is also important to keep in mind that the law nowhere requires that a First Information Report can only be filed by an eye-witness or that the informant must have personal knowledge about the offence. Any person possessing the knowledge regarding commission of a cognizable offence by any known or unknown person can lodge a FIR.

The basic procedure for filing a First Information Report is:

  • A person who is either a victim or a witness to a cognizable offence, may give a written complaint/information about the same to a officer-in-charge of a police station.
  • If a person cannot write the complaint/information, then he may narrate the facts of the incident to the police officer and that the police officer will record the same in writing.
  • The police officer who took down the complaint/information will read the same back to the person to ensure nothing was missed or wrongly recorded.
  • The person who made the complaint will then proceed to sign the FIR and that the information will also be recorded in the station house diary.
  • A copy of the FIR will be provided free of cost to the person who made the complaint. A person can also obtain a digital copy of the FIR on the Delhi Police website.

This was just an introduction to Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code which provides for recording of a First Information Report with the police. I’ll talk about the effects and consequences of a delay in filing a FIR in upcoming blog posts.

Have you ever faced any issues or difficulties with the police while recording a FIR? Do let me know in the comments section.

  • Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.

Follow On:

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If you like what I write, please spread the word by sharing it on your social networks as well. Thank you.