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Order XIV Rule 2(2)(b) CPC - Issue Of Limitation Can Be Determined As A Preliminary Issue If It Can Be Decided On Admitted Facts : Supreme Court

Ashok KM
1 Oct 2022 8:30 AM GMT
Order XIV Rule 2(2)(b) CPC - Issue Of Limitation Can Be Determined As A Preliminary Issue If It Can Be Decided On Admitted Facts : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that an issue of limitation can be framed and determined as a preliminary issue under Order XIV Rule 2(2)(b) CPC in a case where it can be decided on admitted facts.Though, limitation is a mixed question of law and facts it will shed the said character and would get confined to one of question of law when the foundational fact(s), determining the starting point...

The Supreme Court observed that an issue of limitation can be framed and determined as a preliminary issue under Order XIV Rule 2(2)(b) CPC in a case where it can be decided on admitted facts.

Though, limitation is a mixed question of law and facts it will shed the said character and would get confined to one of question of law when the foundational fact(s), determining the starting point of limitation is vividly and specifically made in the plaint averments, the bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar observed.

In this case, the Trial Court framed a preliminary question as to "whether the Suit is within the limitation". Answering the same in the negative, the suit was dismissed. The First Appellate Court and the Delhi High Court dismissed the appeals.

One of the issues raised by the plaintiff-appellant before the Apex Court was whether the issue of limitation can be determined as a preliminary issue under Order XIV, Rule 2(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure ? The appellant contended that limitation being a mixed question of law and facts, if at all that preliminary issue was to be considered it ought to have been made under Rule 11, Order VII, CPC and then, subject to its outcome, at the worst, the plaint could have been rejected in terms of Clause (d) of Rule 11 of Order VII, CPC.

The court noted that an admission made by a party in his pleadings is admissible against him proprio vigore. Referring to various decisions on this point (including Nusli Neville Wadia Vs. Ivory Properties [(2020) 6 SCC 557]) , the court observed:

"Though, limitation is a mixed question of law and facts it will shed the said character and would get confined to one of question of law when the foundational fact(s), determining the starting point of limitation is vividly and specifically made in the plaint averments. In such a circumstance, if the Court concerned is of the opinion that limitation could be framed as a preliminary point and it warrants postponement of settlement of other issues till determination of that issue, it may frame the same as a preliminary issue and may deal with the suit only in accordance with the decision on that issue. It cannot be said that such an approach is impermissible in law and in fact, it is perfectly permissible under Order XIV, Rule 2(2)(b), CPC and legal in such circumstances. In short, in view of the decisions and the provisions, referred above, it is clear that the issue limitation can be framed and determined as a preliminary issue under Order XIV, Rule 2(2)(b), CPC in a case where it can be decided on admitted facts."

Other issues raised by the appellant were: (b) Whether a larger period of limitation of 12 years would be available to the plaintiffs to bring in a suit by virtue of application of Article 136 of the Limitation Act, 1968 (for short 'The Act'), as contended by the appellant and in the facts and circumstances obtained in this case? (c) Whether Article 17 or Article 65 of the Act got any application, as contended by the appellants, in view of the plaint averments, in case Article 136 of the Act is found inapplicable. They were also answered against the appellant.

While dismissing the appeal, the court noted that the findings of the Trial Court with respect to preliminary issue of limitation are based on the relevant dates revealed from the pleadings of the plaintiffs in the plaint itself.

Case details

Sukhbiri Devi vs Union of India | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 810 | CA 10834 OF 2010 | 28 September 2022 | Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar

Headnotes

Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 ; Order XIV, Rule 2(2)(b) - Issue of limitation can be framed and determined as a preliminary issue in a case where it can be decided on admitted facts - Though limitation is a mixed question of law and facts it will shed the said character and would get confined to one of question of law when the foundational fact(s), determining the starting point of limitation is vividly and specifically made in the plaint averment - Tthe provisions under Order XIV Rule 2(1) and Rule 2(2)(b) permit to deal with and dispose of a suit in accordance with the decision on the preliminary issue. (Para 18, 26)

Pleadings - Misquoting or non-quoting of a provision by itself will not make an order bad so long as the relevant enabling provision is in existence and it was correctly applied though without specifically mentioning it. (Para 25)

Limitation Act, 1963 ; Article 136 - Article 136 applies only when an application for execution of any decree (other than a decree granting a mandatory injunction) or order of any Civil Court is to be filed. (Para 20)

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