New Delhi: The Supreme Court said Tuesday that termination of a civil case is a ‘drastic’ action. However, the courts cannot permit a litigant to pursue a lawsuit if it does not disclose a cause of action. So it is necessary to put an end to ‘sham litigation’ to ensure that judicial time is not wasted further.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai delivered the significant verdict on an appeal filed by one Rajendra Bajoria on the interpretation of Order VII Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) dealing with the issue of rejection of civil lawsuits in courts. One of the grounds for rejection of a civil case has been that it ‘shall be rejected’ if it does not disclose a cause of action.
“The power conferred on the court to terminate a civil action is a drastic one, and the conditions enumerated under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC are required to be strictly adhered to. However, under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC, the duty is cast upon the court to determine whether the plaint discloses a cause of action, by scrutinising the averments in the plaint, read in conjunction with the documents relied upon, or whether the suit is barred by any law…
“Underlying object of Order VII Rule 11 of CPC is that when a plaint does not disclose a cause of action, the court would not permit the plaintiff to unnecessarily protract the proceedings. It has been held that in such a case, it will be necessary to put an end to the sham litigation so that further judicial time is not wasted,” said the judgement penned by Justice Gavai for the bench.
The bench referred to judgements and said that it has been held that reading of the averments in a civil case should not only be ‘formal but also meaningful’.
“It has been held that if clever drafting has created the illusion of a cause of action, and a meaningful reading thereof would show that the pleadings are manifestly vexatious and meritless, in the sense of not disclosing a clear right to sue, then the court should exercise its power under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC. It has been held that such a suit has to be nipped in the bud at the first hearing itself,” the bench said.
The civil court has to find out whether in the background of the facts, the relief, as claimed in the plaint, can be granted and if it is found that none of the reliefs can be granted under the law, then such a case ‘should be thrown out at the threshold’, the Supreme Court bench said.
The top court rejected the appeal of Bajoria against the judgement of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court in a dispute related to inheritance of the properties of a partnership firm by the legal heirs of the original partners. The partnership deed was entered into in 1943.