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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