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Procedure of the Trial Court for Civil Lawyers

Civil law in India is concerned with conflicts between individuals, organisations, or both, in which the individual's or organization's rights and liabilities are determined. In some civil proceedings, the victim may also be given compensation, apart from the remedies he has sought for.

The evolution of Civil Law in India has greatly been influenced by English law (common law countries like the UK & the US), Roman law (broader principles of law), parts of India where Portugal and French rulers had control - Portuguese law, and French law. India is a country governed by Common Law tradition that means precedent in following the judgments, power of investigation vests with investigating agency, and the role of the judge is that of the neutral adjudicator. The other systems applicable in the countries are Civil Law, Islamic Law etc. where the administration of justice is different from the common law system.

The governing principle of Civil Law is that where there is a wrong there is a remedy. Code of Civil procedure is the procedural code in general for Civil proceedings in India. The procedural law in Civil Law is the Code of Civil Procedure and the substantive law can be Hindu Marriage Act, Indian Succession Act, Indian Contract Act, etc. The Indian Evidence Act is adjective legislation that governs substantive law pleading, evidencing, and process.

Important steps in filing a Suit under civil law, and the related provisions of CPC:
  • Section 9, Code of Civil Procedure empowers Civil Court to try any civil matter in its jurisdiction which is not expressly barred in Law
  • Jurisdiction:
    Civil court/ Tribunal shall have territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction to hear the matter. Whereas, the proceedings before the civil court is governed by CPC and substantive law. Hearing before a tribunal is governed by provisions given the Act;
  • Plaint:
    The filing of the plaint is the first step to institute a Suit before the Civil Court. The plaint shall contain a factual summary of the case which is filed by the plaintiff, cause of action, and jurisdiction of the competent court. The supporting documents shall be affixed with the plaint;
  • Rejection of Plaint:
    Order 7, Rule 11, CPC describes the conditions under which a plaint can be rejected;
  • Written Statement:
    The plaint is replied through a written statement submitted by the defendant and Cross Suit if applicable
  • Rejoinder:
    The plaintiff has an opportunity to file a rejoinder if any by the plaintiff;
  • Miscellaneous applications:
    The parties are entitled to file applications under the relevant provisions of CPC to get a specific relief or direction (eg: Section 151, CPC);
  • Evidence-Plaintiff:
    The oral and documentary evidence at first is led by the Plaintiff that is called plaintiff's evidence;
  • Evidence-Defendant:
    The oral and documentary evidence is led by the Defendant after the plaintiff and it is called defendant's evidence;
  • Rebuttal Evidence:
    After the evidence of the defendant, the plaintiff can adduce rebuttal evidence, but it cannot be allowed to fill lacunae;
  • Arguments:
    It is raised by the plaintiff and thereafter by the defendant. The plaintiff gets an opportunity for rebuttal arguments;
  • Judgment and Decree:
    The Civil Suit is culminated by judgment and decree of the Civil Court. Judgment without decree is unenforceable in Law;
  • Execution:
    The judgment and decree of the trial court is implemented through the order of the executing court. The executing court has modes to implement the judgment and decree of the trial court;
  • Reference:
    Trial Court under section 113, CPC can seek clarity of the provisions of any substantive or procedural law if there is an ambiguity exists in the statement of Law;
  • Review:
    Section 114, CPC has extremely limited scope to review its judgment. It is primarily meant for the correction of typographical errors or the review provisions as mentioned under Section 114, CPC, for eg: error apparent on the face of the record;
  • Revision:
    Section 115, CPC can be invoked when there is no remedy of appeal or confined to the provisions of 115, CPC;
  • Civil Appeal/First Appeal:
    It is preferred against judgment and decree of the trial court before the district judge by applying the provisions of CPC;
  • Regular Second Appeal:
    It is filed before the Hon'ble High Court under section 100, CPC for adjudicating substantial questions of Law;
  • Special Leave Petition:
    It is filed before the Hon'ble Supreme Court on pure questions of law;
  • Limitation:
    It applies to the filing of a Suit and also, on the appeals, revisions etc. The condonation of delay is not applicable on the filing of a suit, but there is judicial discretion to condone the delay in filing the appeals or revisions.

A few examples of Suits are given below:
Suit for declaration and injunction, if needed: the declaratory suits are filed before a civil court to seek adjudication under civil law to determine the rights and duties of an individual or organization. The major area of litigation is property law which includes title Suits. In intestate succession, the property among legal heirs gets distributed according to personal laws applicable upon the individuals, and civil courts have jurisdiction to conduct the trial. The cases involving modes of transfer of property in a sale, mortgage, lease etc. can be decided as per the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act by the civil courts. The contracts and agreements are governed by Indian Contract Act and jurisdiction lies with the civil courts;

Suit for permanent/mandatory/temporary injunctions on a legal basis like ownership: Injunctions are reliefs sought under the Specific Relief Act and Order 39, Rule 1, 2, & 3 can be invoked. It is a discretionary relief given to the plaintiff to avoid an irreparable loss to the plaintiff. The trial court is duty-bound to examine 3 points:
  1. whether the plaintiff has a prima facie case;
  2. whether the balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff; and
  3. whether the plaintiff would suffer an irreparable injury if his prayer for interlocutory injunction is disallowed.

Other Civil proceedings before tribunals:
Petition for Eviction or mense profit before Rent Controller: The matters related to tenancy are usually adjudicated as per Rent Control Act by Rent Controller. The grounds for eviction can be non-payment of the Rent and/or personal necessity or governed by the Rent Agreement;

Land acquisition proceedings under Land Acquisition Act: The acquisition of land is adjudicated under the Land acquisition rehabilitation & resettlement Act and it will be addressed by Deputy Collector. The challenge to the land acquisition proceedings is made before the High Court;

Company matters: The issues related to companies are adjudicated by the company tribunal under Company Act and the appeal lies before the NCLAT;

Consumer Forum: Consumer disputes are addressed before the consumer redressal forum i.e. District, State, and National Consumer Forum depending upon the pecuniary jurisdiction.


Written by: Rohit Samhotra | The Law Codes

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