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Order VII Rule 11 CPC - Plaint Can't Be Rejected If Limitation Is A Mixed Question Of Law & Fact : Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
19 Sep 2021 5:21 AM GMT
Order VII Rule 11 CPC - Plaint Cant Be Rejected If Limitation Is A Mixed Question Of Law & Fact : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has held that a plaint cannot be rejected under Order VII Rule 11(d) of the Code of Civil Procedure if the issue of limitation is a mixed question of law and fact.A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramaniam observed so while reversing a Bombay High Court's judgment which had upheld a civil court's order to reject a plaint.The suit in question was...

The Supreme Court has held that a plaint cannot be rejected under Order VII Rule 11(d) of the Code of Civil Procedure if the issue of limitation is a mixed question of law and fact.

A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramaniam observed so while reversing a Bombay High Court's judgment which had upheld a civil court's order to reject a plaint.

The suit in question was filed essentially to set aside an order passed by the Agricultural Land Tribunal to issue sale certificate in respect of a tenancy under the Maharashtra Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948.

The defendants raised an argument that that the suit filed in 1987 challenging the order passed in 1963 was time-barred. They also contended that civil suit was barred against the order of ALT under the Act. Raising these points, they sought for rejection of plaint under Order VII Rule 11 CPC. The trial court accepted these arguments and the plaint was rejected. This was upheld by the Bombay High Court.

The plaintiffs approached the Supreme Court assailing the rejection of the plaint.

As regards the issue of limitation, the Supreme Court noted that the plaintiffs had raised a contention that the suit was filed within the period of limitation from the date they got knowledge about the order of ALT. Whether this claim is true or not, it was a triable issue, and should not have been rejected at the threshold itself, the Supreme Court said.

"...the rejection of plaint under Order VII Rule 11 is a drastic power conferred on the Court to terminate a civil action at the threshold. Therefore, the conditions precedent to the exercise of the power are stringent and it is especially so when rejection of plaint is sought on the ground of limitation. When a plaintiff claims that he gained knowledge of the essential facts giving rise to the cause of action only at a particular point of time, the same has to be accepted at the stage of considering the application under Order VII Rule 11", the Supreme Court observed.

"Insofar as the rejection of plaint on the ground of limitation is concerned, it is needless to emphasis that limitation is a mixed question of fact and law", the judgment authored by Justice Ramasubramanian stated.

"We are dealing with a case where the plaintiffs assert in no uncertain terms that notices were never ordered to them nor served on them. Therefore, the answer to the issue  regarding limitation, will depend upon the evidence with regard to the issuance and service of notice and the knowledge of the plaintiffs. Hence, the Trial Court as well as the High Court were not right in rejecting the plaint on the ground of limitation, especially in the facts and circumstances of this case", the Court added.

As regards the second issue, the Court, after referring to the provisions of the Act, noted that the bar on civil suit was not absolute. The Court said that the civil court and the High Court did not ascertain if the circumstances which allowed the suit to proceed under the Act existed in the present case.

"...we are of the considered view that the Trial Court as well as the High Court were clearly in error in rejecting the plaint under Order VII Rule 11(d). Hence, the appeal is allowed, the judgment and decree of the Trial Court as well as the High Court are set aside and the suit is restored to file", the Court concluded.

Also Read : Rejection Of Plaint Under Order VII Rule 11 CPC [Explainer]

Case Title : Salim D.Agboatwala and others v.Shamalji  Oddavji Thakkar and others

Citation : LL 2021 SC 476

Click here to read/download the judgment









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