A caveat petition serves as a crucial legal tool in India, designed to protect the interests of individuals or parties who anticipate a legal dispute or potential litigation. It acts as an early warning system, allowing the person who files the caveat (referred to as the caveator) to receive notice before any court order or decision is passed in a particular case. By filing a caveat petition, the caveator ensures that they are not caught off guard by any proceedings initiated by another party. This proactive measure allows the caveator to actively participate in the legal process and safeguard their rights, ensuring a fair and balanced resolution. In this article, we are going to explain the purpose and importance of caveat petition.
What Is Caveat Petition?
A caveat petition, derived from the Latin term “caveat” meaning “let a person be aware,” has its roots in the mid-16th century. This legal instrument adheres to the fundamental principle of Audi Alteram Partem, which ensures that both parties have the opportunity to present their case. It is a legal tool which makes sure that every person is heard. It can be filed by any individual who has a genuine concern that a civil litigation case has been or is likely to be initiated against them. It is only filed in civil matters. It can be filed under Section 148A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
The Court defined the word “Caveat” in the case of Nirmal Chand v/s Girindra Narayan wherein it said, “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.”
Purpose And Significance Of Caveat Petition
A caveat serves as a preemptive measure taken by an individual who has apprehensions about being subjected to legal proceedings by another party. Essentially, it serves as a formal notice that alerts the concerned person when the court is poised to take legal action against them (the caveator). It is important to note that caveat petitions are exclusively filed in civil matters, aiming to provide the recipient with an opportunity to participate and defend their interests in the ensuing legal process.
This petition is a tool for individuals to exercise their right to be heard before any decision is made against them by the court. Because no court can make a decision or issue an order against a person without even hearing the person.
The purpose of filing a caveat petition in India is twofold: to prevent an ex parte order and to maintain the principle of natural justice. An ex parte order refers to a court decision made in the absence of one party, often resulting in an unfair outcome. By filing a caveat, the caveator ensures that they are given an opportunity to be heard before any such order is passed. This promotes transparency and fairness in legal proceedings, as all parties involved have an equal chance to present their arguments and evidence. Moreover, a caveat petition can be particularly valuable in situations where there is a high likelihood of litigation or dispute, allowing the caveator to be vigilant and prepared for any legal action initiated by the opposing party.
History Of Caveat Petition In India
Earlier, this legal tool was used in testamentary proceedings under the scope of the Indian Succession Act 1925. Prior to 1976, a caveat petition can be filed in the Supreme Court by anyone having an apprehension about a suit being filed against him or has already been instituted in the court.
Following the recommendations of the Law Commission of India’s 54th report, Section 148A was introduced and inserted into Civil Procedure Code, 1976.
Under What Conditions A Caveat Petition Can Be Filed Under CPC Section 148A?
Before you decided to file a caveat petition, make sure to know who can file a caveat petition and under what conditions. Clause 1 of Section 148A of Code Procedure Code, 1908 enlists the circumstances under which you can file a caveat petition which include
- In situations where there is a perceived likelihood of an application being made.
- In cases where an application has already been filed.
- When there is an anticipation of a lawsuit being initiated against the concerned individual.
- In ongoing lawsuits that have already been instituted.
In Kattil Vayalil Parkkum Koiloth v. Mannil Paadikayil Kadeesa Umma, Kerala High Court made it clear that no third person or a person who is complete stranger to the suit, who has no interest in the legal matter, cannot file a caveat petition.
Caveat Under Section 148A Of Civil Procedure Code – Right To Lodge A Caveat
- (1)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.
- (2) 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).
- (3) 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.
- (4) Where a notice of any caveat has been served on the applicant, he shall forthwith furnish the caveator at the caveator’s 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.
- (5) 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 subsection (1) has been made before the expiry of the said period.
Rights And Duties Under Section 148A of CPC, 1908
Section 148A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 enlists the rights and responsibilities of the different parties involved in the matter which include
Rights And Duties Of A Caveator
Caveator is a person who files the caveat petition. The caveator is supposed to perform certain duties which are mentioned under Clause 2 of Section 148A of CPC. The Clause says that the person who is filing a caveat petition should also send the notice regarding the same to the opposite party.
In the case of K. Rajasekaran v. K. Sakunthala, the Court noted that once a caveat petition is lodged, it is the duty of the caveator to serve the notice of caveat petition to the opposite party too. In case the caveator fails to do so, the applicant can file a petition in the Court to revoke the order which was passed behind his/her back without any notice.
Rights And Duties Of An Applicant (Opposite Party)
Clause 4 of Section 148A of the Civil Procedure Code specifies the duties of an applicant which states that if an applicant receives a notice about any caveat petition, he/she is required to provide certain documents at the expense of caveator. The documents include
A copy of his application.
- Copies of any documents or papers he has filed in support of his application.
- Copies of papers and documents that he may file in support of his application.
Rights And Duties Of Court
Clause 3 of Section 148A of CPC, 1908 specifies the duties of a court in caveat matters. This Clause states that if the opposite party files any application after a caveat has been filed, the Court shall serve a notice of the application to the caveator so that he/she has the knowledge about the same and no ex-parte order is passed.
What Is The Validity Period Of Caveat?
The validity period of a caveat petition is 90 days. As per Clause 5 of Section 148A of the Civil Procedure Code, a caveat shall be valid for not more than 90 days. After 90 days have passed, a fresh caveat shall be filed.
What If Notice Not Served By The Court?
In the case of C Seethaiah v. Government of A.P., it was noted that if the Court issues an order without serving a notice to the caveator, it is illegal but not null or void. Section 148A was introduced with the intent that the caveator should be heard before issuing any order against him/her. The provision imposes the duty on the applicant as well as on the court in Clause 3 and Clause 4.
Documents Required To File A Caveat Plea In India
In order to file a caveat in court, there are a few documents which are required. The documents include
- Application to file caveat signed by Advocate on Record which includes
- Cause Title And Case Number
- Name of The Court Appealed From
- Date of Impugned Judgment
- Designation of The Authority
- Particulars of The Order etc.
- Court fees
- Vakalatnama and Memo of appearance
- Memos of parties
When it is filed by caveator in person, you’ll also require
- Interlocutory Permission To Appear And Argue In Person Supported By Affidavit And Application For Requisite Court Fees (1+3)
- Copy of Valid Identity Proof
How To File A Caveat In India?
Filing a caveat petition in India is a legal step taken to ensure that you are given notice before any legal action or application is made against you in a court of law. It is a preventive measure to protect your rights and interests. Here are the steps involved in filing a caveat petition in India:
Understand the Purpose
Familiarize yourself with the concept of a caveat petition and its purpose. A caveat is essentially a notice filed by a party to the court, informing the court that if any application or petition is filed against the caveator (the person filing the caveat), the court should give the caveator an opportunity to be heard before making any decision.
Identify the Relevant Court
Where can a caveat petition be filed? In which court you can file a caveat?
Determine the court where you need to file the caveat petition. This will depend on the nature of the case or matter for which you want to be notified. A caveat petition can be filed by an individual in any court that has original jurisdiction, including Civil Courts, Appellate Courts, High Courts, and the Supreme Court. This is done when the person anticipates that legal proceedings may be initiated against them in the near future. It is worth noting that the term “Civil Courts” encompasses various judicial bodies such as Tribunals, Forums, Courts of Small Causes, and Commissions, as determined by the relevant jurisdiction.
Drafting the Caveat Petition
Prepare the caveat petition in the prescribed format. The petition should contain the following information:
- Title of the case.
- Details of the court in which the caveat is being filed.
- Name, address, and contact information of the caveator.
- Name, address, and contact information of the proposed opposing party.
- Brief facts of the case and the reasons for filing the caveat.
- Prayer seeking notice to the caveator if any application or petition is filed against them.
Engage An Experienced Civil Lawyer
It is recommended to seek the assistance of a lawyer experienced in civil litigation to ensure that your caveat petition is correctly drafted and filed.
Verification and Affidavit
The caveat petition should be verified and signed by the caveator or their authorized representative. An affidavit supporting the facts mentioned in the caveat petition should also be prepared. The caveator has to sign affidavit as well as the caveat petition.
Attach Supporting Documents
Gather all relevant documents supporting the facts mentioned in the caveat petition. This may include any impugned order, vakalatnama, proof of service of notice of Caveat, contracts, agreements, correspondence, or other evidence that strengthens your case.
Pay the requisite court fees as per the rules of the respective court where you are filing the caveat petition. The court fees may vary depending on the type of case and the value involved.
Filing the Caveat Petition
Once the caveat petition, affidavit, and supporting documents are ready, visit the court where you need to file the petition. Submit the documents to the appropriate court clerk or the filing counter. They will provide you with a receipt as proof of filing.
After the caveat petition is filed, it is the responsibility of the court to serve notice to the caveator if any application or petition is filed against them. The court will generally issue a notice to the caveator and provide a specified time within which the caveator needs to appear and defend their case.
Benefits Of Filing A Caveat In India
- Prior Notice: By filing a caveat, the caveator ensures that they receive prior notice if any legal action or application is filed against them. This allows the caveator to be prepared and have an opportunity to present their side of the case before any decision is made by the court.
- Protection of Rights: A caveat acts as a protective measure to safeguard the rights and interests of the caveator. It prevents ex parte orders, where a decision is made without hearing both parties, and ensures that the caveator has a chance to present their arguments and evidence.
- Opportunity to be Heard: Filing a caveat ensures that the caveator is given a fair chance to be heard before any decision is taken by the court. This promotes the principles of natural justice and provides an opportunity for the caveator to present their case effectively.
- Prevention of Adverse Orders: By being notified of any impending legal action, the caveator can proactively participate in the proceedings and prevent any adverse orders or decisions that may negatively impact their rights or interests.
- Time to Prepare: Filing a caveat allows the caveator to have sufficient time to gather evidence, consult with legal experts, and prepare a strong defense or counter-argument. This helps in presenting a well-prepared case and increases the chances of a favorable outcome.
- Avoidance of Delay: By filing a caveat, the caveator can potentially avoid unnecessary delays in the legal process. They can promptly respond to any application or petition filed against them, thereby expediting the proceedings.
- Control over Litigation: A caveat provides the caveator with a degree of control over the litigation process. They can actively participate in the proceedings, present their arguments, and influence the outcome of the case.
So, these are the advantages of filing a caveat. Beside them, there can be several other benefits which you might explore during the proceeding.
FAQs Related To Filing A Caveat In India
A caveat cannot be filed when
A caveat cannot be filed against a petition made under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and pleas made under Criminal Procedure Code. A caveat can only be filed under Section 148A of Civil Procedure Code in civil proceedings.
Is Section 148 a CPC applies to writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution?
In the case of Deepak Khosla v. Union of India & Ors, the Delhi High Court noted that a caveat cannot be filed against pleas filed under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code
What happens after a caveat is filed?
After a caveat is filed, it is the duty of the court to send a notice to the other party against whom the caveat is filed. The Court is going to keep track of the limitation period of 90 days and will set a hearing date, On the hearing date, the applicant as well as the caveator need to be there to present their witnesses and evidence.
How long is a caveat in court valid for?
A caveat is valid for the period of 90 days and you can seek extension of the same in the Court by filing an application before the expiry of 90 days.
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