Conflicts among individuals or organisations, usually involving money, are the basis of civil proceedings. A civil lawsuit starts when a legal citizen files a “suit” in court, alleging that he/she has been injured as a result of the conduct of another individual or organisation.
The well-established rules of the Code of Civil Procedure [CPC] serve as a guide for the majority of civil lawsuits. Instead of imposing punishment or new penalties, as in criminal litigation, civil litigation aims to settle claims or compensation to the harmed party. Moreover, some offences are covered by civil and criminal procedures as the relevant laws provided.
The steps in civil court proceedings in India help to attain justice and equality. The goal of civil litigation is to provide solutions for civil or administrative problems, and it is the result of several acts and laws.
The Primary Court Procedure for Filing a Civil Suit in India
A specific procedure is defined in the Code of Civil Procedure to file a civil suit. However, the “registry” may choose to dismiss the matter if the process is not followed. “Registry” refers to a department that each court maintains and publishes records and court documents.
The steps in civil court proceedings in India that a civil lawyer follows are as follows:
Filing a Suit/Plaint
The written claim or complaint is a plaint. The “Plaintiff” is the party who files it, while the “Defendant” is the party that the complaint is filed against.
The individual or a party filing the complaint permits the advocate/lawyer/attorney to speak on their behalf in writing (vakalatnama). However, a person or party submitting a petition may also individually present their lawsuit in court; in this case, they do not require Vakalatnama.
Filing a complaint with the Chief Ministerial Officer and submitting the proper court fees and processing costs; various court fees are associated with various documents.
Court fees are a small fraction of the overall claim or lawsuit value. The “Court Fees Stamp Act” states that the required court fee and stamp duty amounts vary depending on the type of lawsuit.
Stages in Civil Litigation
Filing a Plaint
The first phase of the proceedings in a case is filing in court. Every lawsuit begins when the plaintiff submits a plaint in court, and the filing of the plaint initiates the complete civil law judicial process.
Issue of Summons
The filing and execution of the summons to defendant represent the second step. After the lawsuit is filed, the court summons the defendant listed in the plaint to appear on a particular date. The judge signs and seals the summons with the court seal. The plaintiff may also be required to attend court for the defendant’s hearing.
Presentation of the Respected Parties
The defendant must show up in court in person or through a lawyer. The court may continue ex parte if the defendant does not show up on the scheduled date.
The court may dissolve the case if the plaintiff fails to appear on the scheduled day. If neither party represent in court, the issue is dismissed by the court.
The defendant must submit evidence or records to sustain his case if the summons is of the last decision.
When a defendant does not appear in court on the scheduled date, the court might continue without them. In the absence of a pleading from the defendant, the court renders its decision based on the information stated in the plaint. Where the plaintiff is represented in person, and the defendant is absent. The court may decide to order an ex-parte hearing for the case.
Filing of written statement by the defendant
Defendant has 30 to 90 days, as permitted by the court, to provide a written statement for the defence. The written statement is the defendant’s reply, denying all of the claims made against him in the plaintiff’s complaint. In the written statement, the defendant can raise defences.
Documents Produced by the Parties
The next phase of the lawsuit is the presentation of the documents after the defendant files the written statement. Both parties must file the papers in the plaintiff’s and Defendant’s possession. The party may ask the court to order a summons to the party who is in possession of the documents if it’s not present and they depend on it.
The court will question both parties if they accept or dispute the claims raised in the written statement during the initial hearing of the lawsuit. The judge can ask questions verbally, and the court documents these acceptances or rejections in writing. Order 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, outlines the rules at this step.
Issues Framing by the Court
The judge is the only one who handles this step. When one party refuses the claims made by the other, problems arise.
Every accusation is turned into an issue, and each issue is decided separately. During the initial hearing, if the defendant doesn’t present any defences, there are no issues, and the judgment is rendered. The provisions relating to issue framing are mentioned in Order 14 of the CPC.
Summoning of the Witnesses
The parties must submit a list of witnesses to the court when the issues have been stated, either to appear or to serve documentation. The list must be delivered no longer than 15 days after the day the court has set for its presentation. Order 16 of the CPC refers to the regulations of the same.
The plaintiff must present the proof previously mentioned on the day set for the lawsuit’s hearing. The defendant’s attorney will cross-examine the complainant and any witnesses the plaintiff produces. The same procedure will be followed in the defendant’s case, where the plaintiff’s attorney will cross-examine the defendant and any witnesses the defendant produces.
The case is preserved for discussion once the witness has been thoroughly questioned. In this step, both parties provide an outline of the matter and supporting documentation to the court during the final hearing.
The decision made by the judge that serves as the basis for a decree is known as a judgment. The court must pronounce its decision after hearing from both parties to the case, either during the last hearing or within a month.
Preparation of Decree
The decree must be in agreement with the decision and should include the case number, the details of the parties, their identities, and complaints, as well as any statutes that have been awarded. The requirements for the drafting of the Decree are provided in Order 20 Rule 6.6A.
How are Proceedings Conducted?
- If the court decides that the matter has merit on the initial day of the hearing, it will inform the opposing party to present their submissions and set a date for the hearing.
- The plaintiff must take the following actions after giving notice to the opposing party:
- Submit the necessary process — court fee.
- For each defendant, submit two copies of the plaint to the court; therefore, six copies must be submitted in the case of three defendants.
- One copy of each defendant’s, two copies must be sent via courier or registered mail, and the other copy must be sent via regular mail.
- Such filing must be completed within seven days of the order or mentioned date.
- The defendant must appear on the specified day after receiving the notice and before the court.
- Before that time, the defendant must file his “written statement,” or defence against the claim made by the plaintiff, within a month of the day notice was served or within the period the court specifies.
- The written statement must expressly refuse the accusations, which the defendant believes to be incorrect. Any claim that is not explicitly refused is assumed to be true.
- The written statement also includes confirmation from the defendant that the information is accurate and true.
- After obtaining approval from the court, a month’s deadline for submitting a written statement could be increased to ninety days.
Reply by the Plaintiff
- A “replication” is the plaintiff’s response to the defendant’s “written statement.”
- Additionally, “Replication” should expressly refuse the claims made in the defendant’s written statement. Anything that is not rejected is regarded as acceptance.
- Replication must also include a “confirmation” from the plaintiff attesting to the accuracy and truth of its facts.
- Pleadings are considered finished once Replication has been submitted.
Civil law operates under the guiding concept that every wrong has a corresponding remedy. The general method for civil procedures in India is codified in the Code of Civil Procedure.
Steps in civil court proceedings in India are underlined in the law, which is very systematic and clear. Each area of law is concerned with professionals, for instance, criminal law for a criminal lawyer, civil law for civil lawyer and so on.
Civil law in India concerns conflicts between individuals, organisations, or both, in which the individual’s or organisation’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.