The Civil Procedure Code, 1908, controls the civil procedure of courts in
India. The unified Code in civil court procedure has allowed several suits to
stay for decades. In most cases, the only need for the Judge is to record
reasons in writing. Section 148 of CPC gives power to the Court to enlarge the
time fixed by it with regard to an act prescribed or allowed by the CPC.
What is the typical timetable for a civil claim?
Once a plaint has been filed, the summons is issued to the defendant to appear
and defend the claim and file his statement of defence within 30 days from the
date of service of summons. A summons is an intimation sent to the other party
(defendant), delivered through an officer of the Court, but the Court may allow
service by registered post with a due acknowledgement, approved courier
services, fax or email. Every summons must be sent with a copy of the plaint and
should be signed by the Judge or other officer decided by the Judge and sealed
with the seal of the Court.
After the receipt of the summons, the defendant should appear before the Court
either in person or through an advocate on the date mentioned in the summons. If
the statement of defence is not filed within 30 days of receipt of the summons,
the defendant can be granted an extension but should not be later than 90 days
from service of summons. These timelines have not been held compulsory by the
Supreme Court and, if sufficient cause can be shown, courts may even extend the
If the defendant declines to accept service of summons or cannot be found,
service may be affected by attaching a copy of the summons on the outer door or
another conspicuous part of the house where the defendant lives, carries on
business or works for gain. If a defendant does not appear before the Court on
the returnable date mentioned in the summons, the Court may go on to hear the
plaintiff and move to pronounce a judgment in the non-appearance of the
Statutory Timelines for Filing a Defence
In the Salem case, the Supreme Court has stated that the time limit stated under
Order 8, Rule 1, to file written statements in ordinary civil suits is directory
and not compulsory.
The R.N. Jadi case mentioned that Order 8, Rule 1, modified by the 2002 CPC
amendment, mentioning a time limit of 90 days for filing a written statement,
was directory and not mandatory by quoting an earlier precedent. Explaining the
statutory time limit of 90 days to file a written statement into a mere
directory guideline reopened the flood-gates of delay. Not filing a written
statement in time is still a favourable strategy to delay a civil suit in Indian
Any debate regarding the Indian legal system meets a big issue of delays in
courts. The government tries to have the best possible law they can, but if the
management of a statute's legal remedies requires treacherous delays, the basic
form and function of a statute dies. Major reasons for the delay in judgements
can include shortage of judges, adequate infrastructure, lack of facilities for
e-filings and live transcription, poor case management, etc.
Can the parties manage the timetable for a Civil Claim?
The Commercial Court should have a management of hearing not later than four
weeks from the date of filing the affidavit of admission and denial of documents
by the parties. While setting the timelines, the Commercial Court needs to make
sure that the arguments are closed not later than six months from the date of
the first case management hearing.
The Civil Procedure Code controls the process, and the courts can extend the
timelines to a certain extent. Parties cannot control the procedure or
timetable. However, by way of an amendment in the CPC, the Commercial Courts Act
introduced Order 13A, which allows parties to apply for a summary judgment at
any stage before framing issues.
The Apex court bench of judges Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R Subhash Reddy instructed
lawyers to restrict oral reasoning to 30 minutes and submission work on a law to
three pages. The Court gave this verdict on a petition filed by Yatin Narendra
Oza, a veteran lawyer from Gujarat who was removed from the designation of the
senior advocate after commencement of contempt affairs against him by the
Gujarat High Court.
The Apex Court, in a judgement in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. and Anr. v. CBI
has stated that any order of stay on the civil or criminal
proceedings will not go for more than six months unless the extension is
granted, and the trial court may go in the case without waiting for sanction
from the higher Court if the stay is not extended after that.
Procedure to move to H.C. for fast disposition of a case
In the case of Anil Rai vs the State of Bihar, the SC has pointed out that
parties can file an application letter in the High Court requesting an early
judgment if it's not delivered in three months of it being reserved. If it's not
delivered for more than six months after being kept reserved, parties have the
full right to have it re-heard before a distinct bench of the High Court.
Being a part of remedial measures, the Court, in this case, issued a few
Application to Higher Courts
- The Chief Justice of the High Court can make directions to the Registry
in a case where the judgment is kept reserved and is pronounced sometime
later. A section can be added in the judgment, on the first page, after the
cause-title date of reserving the judgment, and the date of pronouncing it,
stated separately by the concerned court officer.
- That Chief Justice of the High Courts, on their administrative side,
should ask the Court Officers of the various Benches in the High Courts to
furnish every month the list of cases where the judgments reserved are not
pronounced within the time of that month.
- After the closure of the arguments, the judgment is not pronounced in
the period of two months, and the concerned Chief Justice should draw the
attention of the Bench concerned to the pending matter.
- When a judgment is not expressed within three months from the date of
reserving the judgment, any of the parties in the matter is permitted to
file an application in the High Court asking for early order. This
application would be listed before the Bench concerned within two days,
excluding the intervening holidays.
- If the judgment is not stated within a period of six months, any of the
parties of the said list should be entitled to move an application before
the Chief Justice of the High Court with a prayer to pull out the said case
and to make it over to any other Bench for fresh arguments.
An early hearing application can be moved to the higher Court to dispose of the
case within a certain time limit. The higher Court can give directions to the
subordinate Court to dispose of the case in a quick manner, and it can even give
a certain time limit to conclude the case. The application should clearly state
what can be the reason for the delay, and it should request the Court to give
directions for a fast and early judicial order.
After getting the directions,
the Judge considers the case a priority and tend to avoid giving any further
dates for the hearing and tries to dispose of the case as early as possible.
However, such an application can only be moved when the case is pending before
the Court for a sufficient amount of time.
The stage of the case also matters a
lot as the application can only be moved when evidence has already been
collected, cross-examination has been done, and the case has reached its final
argument stage. Article 227 of the Constitution of India expresses that every
High Court should have command over all the courts and tribunals in the
territories regarding which it exercises jurisdiction
Every person wishes for a right to a speedy trial, and refusal to timely
justice leads to no justice. Pendency of cases for an extended time defeats the
entire idea of justice and loses people's confidence within the judiciary. There
are some cases that have been pending in the Courts for more than ten or maybe
The alteration brought by the Amendments in 1999 and 2002 to the CPC
is fundamental in nature yet have sweeping results in the working of Civil
Courts in the nation if they're properly followed. How long should it take
to eliminate a case depends upon the facts and circumstances of every case. It
is not suggested that justice is served quickly, but it should be with the
proper observation by following the procedures of the Code and disposing of the
case by the Judges only after considering the material evidence and due hearing
in every case.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Kishan Dutt Kalaskar
Authentication No: NV1305544796-01-1121