Civil procedure and timetable to bring a matter to trial


Bringing the case to a trial would mean providing the evidence to the court but the final decision remains pending on which party is guilty. The procedure for trial of a civil case as per the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 ("CPC") and the Rules of the respective Courts are as followed. Mandatory stages of a Civil Suit as per the provisions of CPC are as under:

Institution of the suit:

As per the CPC, Section 26(1), a civil suit is instituted by the presentation of a plaint accompanied by an affidavit in support of the facts pleaded therein. The particulars to be contained in a plaint have to be as provided under Order 7 of CPC which states that a plaint shall contain the following:

  • Name of the court in which the suit is to be filed

  • Name, description, and place of residence of the Defendant so that it can be ascertained

  • Name, description and place of residence of the Plaintiff

  • Where the Plaintiff or Defendant is a minor or person of unsound mind - statement to that effect

  • facts constituting the cause of action and when it arose

  • Where Plaintiff has allowed a set-off or relinquishes - a portion of his claim, the amount so allowed for relinquishment; and

  • Statement of the value, of the subject matter, of the suit for purpose of jurisdiction and court fees

  • Fact showing that the court has jurisdiction

  • The relief which the Plaintiff claims

  1. First hearing/Admission of the case:  After the filing of the plaint, the case is listed for the first hearing before the Court. Plaintiff will be required to provide an overview of the case and satisfy the Court that a cause of action exists against Defendant. If the Court is satisfied, it admits the case and issues summon/notice u/s 27 read with Order V of the CPC to the Defendant to appear and answer the claim. It is important to note if the Plaintiff fails to appear on the first date of the hearing, then the court may dismiss the suit in default

  2. Service of Summons: The summons will be served by the court at the address of the Defendant provided by the Plaintiff, once the court issues it. The plaintiff must ensure that the address provided to the Court is correct so that the summons is duly served upon Defendant. Plaintiff may also seek permission from the Court under Order V R 9A to effect service of the summons upon Defendant on its own to further ensure that Defendant is duly served.

  3. Summoning the Defendant: If the address of the Defendant is not traceable and the Court and the Plaintiff are unable to effect service of summons upon the Defendant after all persistence, the Plaintiff may apply to the Court seeking permission to effect service by way of a publication as per Ord. V R 17 and R 20 of the CPC. The service of summons/notice upon the Defendant is presumed to be effectuated by way of such publication and in case the Defendant still does not enters an appearance in the case, the suit proceeds ex-prate.

  4.  The appearance of Parties: On the day decided by the Court in the summons, the Defendant is required to enter its appearance and file its reply to the plaint and in situations where the reply is not filed, request the Court to give it more time to file the reply. In case the summons/ notices have been duly served upon the Defendant and the Defendant still fails to enter an appearance, the Court may either grant another opportunity to the Defendant to enter an appearance and re-issue summons or proceed ex-prate against the Defendant noting that it has failed to appear despite reasonable opportunity and thus, closing its right to defend.

  5. Filing of Reply by Defendant: After service of summons to Defendant, as per Order VIII R 1 of the CPC, Defendant is required to file its reply (termed as Written Statement) within 90 days from the date of service of the summons on him. However, the Defendant may seek an extension of time for filing of its reply and such extension may be granted by the Court at its discretion

  6. Production of Documents: After filing the written statement by Defendant, the next stage of the suit is the production of documents. In this, both parties are required to file the documents in Court which are in their possession or power. If the parties rely on some documents which are not in their possession, they have to apply to the Court for the issue of summons to the authority or the persons in whose possession those documents are.

  7. Examination of parties by the Court (Order X): At the first hearing of the suit after the filing of the written statement by the Defendant, the Court shall ascertain from each party whether it admits or denies such allegations of fact as are made in the plaint or the written statement. Such admissions and denials shall be recorded. After such recording, the Court shall direct the parties to the suit to opt for one of the following modes of settlement outside the Court.

  • Arbitration

  • Conciliation

  • Judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat or

  • Mediation

  • Discovery and Inspection (Order XI): The purpose of discovery and inspection of documents and facts is to enable the parties to ascertain the facts to be proved. With the leave of the Court, the Plaintiff or Defendant may deliver interrogatories in writing for an examination of opposing parties which are required to be answered and which are related to the matter

  • Admission and denial of documents (Order XII): Either party may by giving notice, call upon the other party to admit within seven days from the date of service of the notice, all documents saving just exceptions, and each party shall submit a statement of admissions or Denials of all documents disclosed and of which inspection has been completed, within fifteen days of the completion of inspection or any later date as fixed by the Court. The statement of admissions and denials shall set out explicitly, whether such party was admitting or denying.

  1. Submitting the Affidavit: An Affidavit in support of the statement of admissions and denials shall be filed to confirm the credibility of the contents of the statement. If the Court holds that, any of the parties have refused to admit a document under any of the above criteria, costs (including exemplary costs) for deciding on the admissibility of a document may be imposed by the Court on such party. The Court may pass orders concerning admitted documents including for waiver of further proof, or rejection of any documents.

  2. Framing of Issues (Order XIV): The next stage is framing issues. Based on the questions of law arising and the admission-denial of the facts, the issues are framed by the Court following the provisions of the CPC Ord. XIV R1

  3. Summoning and Attendance of Witnesses (Order XVI): On the date appointed by the Court and not later than 15 days after the date on which issues are settled parties shall present in Court a list of witnesses whom they propose to call either to give evidence or to produce the document.

  4. Hearing of suit and examination of Witnesses (Order XVIII): The Plaintiff is entitled to have the first right to begin unless the Defendant admits the facts alleged by the Plaintiff and contends that either in point of law or on some additional facts alleged by the Defendant, the Plaintiff is not entitled to any part of the relief.  If any evidence was not marked earlier then the same shall not be considered by the Court. Plaintiff shall examine in chief of its witnesses followed by cross-examination of the witnesses by the Defendant.

  5. Arguments: Final arguments are submitted by both parties, after completion of evidence.

  6. Judgment (Order XX): Judgment is defined as the statement given by the judge on the grounds of which a decree is passed. The Court pronounces judgment in open Court either within one month of completion of arguments or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, and when the judgment is to be pronounced the judge fixes a day in advance for that purpose.