There are prevailing misconceptions among young lawyers and even among the many experienced practitioners pertaining to Caveat. The existing misconception regarding Caveat is the thinking that the Caveat is like a magic wand which when waved will bring the decision of the Court in their favour. This article discusses important judgments, filing of a caveat under Section 148 A of CPC,...
There are prevailing misconceptions among young lawyers and even among the many experienced practitioners pertaining to Caveat. The existing misconception regarding Caveat is the thinking that the Caveat is like a magic wand which when waved will bring the decision of the Court in their favour. This article discusses important judgments, filing of a caveat under Section 148 A of CPC, etc. in extenso.
Meaning of Caveat
The dictionary meaning of the word ‘Caveat’ is ‘Warning’ i.e., a legal warning. As per Black’s Law Dictionary, a caveat is a Latin term which means ‘Let him be aware’. It is a formal notice or warning given by a party interested to a Court, judge, or ministerial officer against the performance of certain acts within his power and jurisdiction. Caveat is based on the principle of Audi Alteram Partem which stipulates that both the parties have the opportunity to be heard before the Court.
This process may be used in the actual Courts as an intimation to prevent (temporarily or provisionally) the proving of a will or the grant of administration or to arrest the enrolment of a decree in chancery when the party intends to take an appeal, to prevent the grant of letters patent, etc. The U.S. Courts have widely used the Caveat in their practices as a kind of equitable process in order to stay the granting of a patent for lands in its various judicial pronouncements for example in Wilson v. Gaston, Slocum v. Grandin, Ex parte Crafts and in re Miller’s Estate.
Civil Procedure Code (CPC), 1908 under Section 148 A provides the Right to lodge a caveat. The said provision is set out below as:
- Where an application is expected to be made, or has been made, in a suit or proceeding instituted, or about to be instituted, in a Court, any person claiming a right to appear before the Court on the hearing of such application may lodge a caveat in respect thereof.
- Where a caveat has been lodged under sub-section (1), the person by whom the caveat has been lodged (hereinafter referred to as the caveator) shall serve a notice of the caveat by registered post, acknowledgement due, on the person by whom the application has been, or is expected to be, made, under sub-section (1).
- Where, after a caveat has been lodged under sub-section (1), any application is filed in any suit or proceeding, the Court, shall serve a notice of the application on the caveator.
- Where a notice of any caveat has been served on the applicant, he shall forthwith furnish the caveator at the caveators expense, with a copy of the application made by him and also with copies of any paper or document which has been, or may be, filed by him in support of the application.
- Where a caveat has been lodged under sub-section (1), such caveat shall not remain in force after the expiry of ninety days from the date on which it was lodged unless the application referred to in sub-section (1) has been made before the expiry of the said period.
Calcutta High Court defined the term ‘Caveat’ in the case of Nirmal Chandra Dutta v. Girindra Narayan Roy and Ors. The Court highlighted that the term ‘caveat’ is very common in testamentary proceedings. A caveat is a caution or warning giving notice to the Court not to issue any grant or take any step without notice being given to the party lodging the caveat. It is a precautionary measure taken against the grant of probate or letters of administration, as the case may be, by the person lodging the caveat.
The objective behind the insertion of the provision of Caveat under CPC
The object of the introduction of the provision for lodging a caveat in the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) is to safeguard the interest of a person against an order that may be passed on an application filed or expected to be filed by a party in a suit or proceeding instituted or about to be instituted. Such a person lodging a caveat may not be a necessary party to such an application, but he may be affected by an order that may be passed on such an application. Further, another object behind the provision of S. 148-A is to avoid multiplicity of proceedings. For instance, a person, against whom an order is passed on an application in a suit or proceeding to which he is not a party, has to take resort to legal proceedings for the purpose of getting rid of the order. The application referred to in sub-sec. (1) of S. 148-A must be a substantive application and the person who may be affected by an order that may be passed on such an application may file the caveat for the purpose of opposing the application.
In the absence of such a form, it may be in the shape of a petition in which the caveator has to specify the nature of the application which is expected to be made or has been made and also his right to appear before the Court on the hearing of such application, under sub-sec. (2) of S. 148A, the caveator also has to serve a notice of the caveat on the person by whom the application has been, or is expected to be, made under sub-sec. (1). It follows, therefore, that in the caveat the name of the person who is expected to file or has filed the application, the nature of the application and the right under which the person lodging the caveat claims to appear before the court have to be stated explicitly.
Supreme Court Rules On Caveat
Order XV Rule 2 of Supreme Court Rules, 2013 talks about General Petitions under which the rules very categorically mention that where a petition is expected to be lodged or has been lodged, which does not relate to any pending appeal of which the record has been registered in the Registry of the Court, any person claiming a right to appear before the Court on the hearing of such petition may lodge a caveat in the matter thereof.
Order XXI Rule 3 unequivocally states that unless a caveat as prescribed by rule 2 of Order XV has been lodged by the other parties, who appeared in the Court below, petitions for grant of Special Leave shall be put up for hearing ex-parte, but the Court, if it thinks fit, may direct issue of notice to the respondent and adjourn the hearing of the petition.
Delhi High Court Rules
Chapter XXX of Delhi High Court specifically talks about Caveat and its Format. As per Delhi High Court Rules -Caveat is described as any suit or proceeding to which Section 148-A of the Code applies, the person instituting the same shall state in the plaint, petition or application, whether or not he has received notice of any caveat lodged in the Court in respect thereof, and, if so particulars of the same.
Practice Directions by Delhi HC for Electronic Filing
Caveats can be registered, and all written statements, counter affidavits or reply affidavits, affidavits by way of rejoinder, documents, applications in pending matters or in disposed of matters, supplementary pleadings, 6 documents, etc in pending cases can be filed electronically using the e- filing system.
Important Case Laws on Caveat
[1.] Moideen v. Kadeesa Umma and Anr.
In this case, the suit was filed before the Kerala High Court pertaining to the partition and separate possession of the plaintiff’s share. After the passing of the final decree, the respondent filed a caveat under § 148 A of the Code of Civil Procedure praying that they also may be given notice before any order is passed. The Court emphasized that if any application is expected to be made in a suit or proceeding or about to be instituted, any person claiming a right to appear before the court on the hearing of such an application alone may lodge a caveat.
[2.] C. Seethaiah v. Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
In this case, the appellant petitioner did not serve the copies of the petition on the caveator and he was not at all heard before the interim order of suspension was granted. The ex parte order of suspension deserves to be set aside on this ground. The fact remains that the caveator had no notice of the posting and hearing of the writ petition and miscellaneous petition and had no opportunity to oppose the petitioner’s request for suspension of the impugned order.
The Court highlighted that whenever a caveat is lodged as laid down under sub-sec (1) of sec 148 A sub-sec. (2) makes it obligatory upon the caveator to serve a notice of the caveat by registered post, acknowledgement due on the person by whom the application has been or is expected to be made.
[3.] G.C Siddalingappa v. G.C Veeranna
In this case, the Karnataka High Court highlighted that once a caveat is filed it is a condition precedent for passing an interim order to serve a notice of the application on the caveator who is going to be affected by the interim order unless that condition precedent is satisfied, it is impossible for the court to pass an interim order affecting the caveator. The learned judge further held the court would not absolve from serving a notice of the application on the caveator on the ground that he refused to receive the same. Even if the application was served on the caveator unless the date and the time of hearing of the application was made known to the caveator or his counsel the requirement of serving a notice of the application on the caveator could not have been dispensed with.
[4.] Employees Association v. RBI
In this case, the Court held that by virtue of Sub-section (4) of Section 148 A applicant is duty-bound to furnish a copy of the application made by him along with copies of all the documents which he referred to during the course of the proceeding to the caveator at the caveator’s expenses.
[5.] State of Karnataka v. NIL
Court pronounced that under Sub-section (2) of section 148 A once a party has admitted as a caveator then he is duty bound to serve a notice of the lodged caveat by registered post on the person or persons by whom an application for an interim order or is expected to be moved against the caveator. However, it is not mandatory. The Court went on to pronounce that where no notice could be served on account of the uncertainty of the person likely to institute a suit, appeal, or other proceedings, the Court may, at its discretion, dispense with the serve of notice of a caveat and permit a party to lodge a caveat without naming the respondent party.
[6.] Pashupati Nath v. Registrar, Coop. Societies
In this case, the Court discussed in length the filing of a caveat. The Court highlighted that a caveat may be lodged after a decree or judgment is pronounced or order is passed. However, in exceptional cases, a caveat may be filed prior to the pronouncement of the judgment or passing of the decree/order as the case may be. Moreover, the Court supplied an emphasis that the provisions of the said section can only be attracted where the caveator is entitled to be heard before any order is made on the application filed or expected to be filed.
The right to file a caveat under Section 148 A of CPC empowered those persons who have an interest in the order of the court and fear that an order can be passed against them. It has been seen that the courts can have a different viewpoint from case to case which can make the nature of each clause of section 148 A different. Moreover, under sub-section (5) it is highlighted that the caveat shall not remain in force after the expiry of 90 days on the date on which it was lodged unless the application referred to in sub-section (1) has been made before the expiry of the said period.
The Courts through the various pronouncements made clear that the main objective of filing the caveat is to safeguard the interest of a person against an order that may be passed or any decree may be made in a suit or a proceeding instituted of or expected to be instituted. Moreover, it is evident that the caveat seeks to avoid a multiplicity of proceedings. In the absence of such a provision, a person who is not a party to such an application and is adversely affected by the order has to take appropriate legal proceedings to get rid of such an order.
Views are personal.
 Wilson v. Gaston, 92 Pa. 207.
 Slocum v. Grandin, 38 N.J. Eq. 485.
 Ex parte Crafts, 28 S.C. 281, 5 S.E. 718.
 In re Miller’s Estate, 1GG Pa. 97, 31 Atl. 5S.
 Civil Procedure Code, 1908, § 148 A.
 Nirmal Chandra Dutta v. Girindra Narayan Roy and Ors., 1978 SCC OnLine CAL 174, p. 494.
 Moideen v. Kadeesa Umma and Anr. 1991 SCC OnLine KER 178.
 C. Seethaiah v. Govt. Of Andhra Pradesh, 1983 SCC OnLine AP 96.
 G.C Siddalingappa v. G.C Veeranna, 1981 SCC OnLine KAR 159.
 Employees Association v. RBI, (AIR 1981 AP 246).
 State of Karnataka v. NIL, ((1999), 5 Kant LJ 637).
 Pashupati Nath v. Registrar, Coop. Societies, AIR 1983 Raj 191.