When Maintainability Of Suit Is Questioned, Court Should Prima Facie Decide Jurisdiction Before Granting Interim Relief : Supreme Court


Chambers of Ishaan Garg

Ch. No. 217, Western Wing, District & Sessions Court, Tis Hazari, New Delhi, Delhi 110054

+91 8851742417, +91 8800386163

The Supreme Court has observed that if the maintainability of a civil suit is questioned and the grant of interim relief is opposed on that ground, then the trial court, before deciding to grant the interim releif, must at least make a prima facie satisfaction regarding the maintainability of the suit.

Where interim relief is claimed in a suit before a civil court and the party to be affected by grant of such relief, or any other party to the suit, raises a point of maintainability thereof or that it is barred by law and also contends on that basis that interim relief should not to be granted, grant of relief in whatever form, if at all, ought to be preceded by formation and recording of at least a prima facie satisfaction that the suit is maintainable or that it is not barred by law", observed a bench comprising Justices BR Gavai, Dipankar Datta and Aravind Kumar.

"It would be inappropriate for a court to abstain from recording its prima facie satisfaction on the question of maintainability, yet, proceed to grant protection pro tem on the assumption that the question of maintainability has to be decided as a preliminary issue under Rule 2 of Order XIV, CPC. That could amount to an improper exercise of power," the judgment added.

If the court thinks at the stage of hearing the application for interim relief that the suit is barred by law or is otherwise not maintainable, it cannot dismiss it without framing a preliminary issue after the written statement is filed but can most certainly assign such opinion for refusing interim relief.

At the same time, if there is an extraordinary situation where a decision on the maintainability will delay the grant of interim relief which can cause irreparable harm, the Court may pass an appropriate order after assigning proper reasons.

"However, if an extraordinary situation arises where it could take time to decide the point of maintainability of the suit and non-grant of protection pro tem pending such decision could lead to irreversible consequences, the court may proceed to make an appropriate order in the manner indicated above justifying the course of action it adopts. In other words, such an order may be passed, if at all required, to avoid irreparable harm or injury or undue hardship to the party claiming the relief and/or to ensure that the proceedings are not rendered infructuous by reason of non-interference by the court,” the Court explained.