If a person believes that a suit or application will be filed against them then, they should file a Caveat application before the court. Now, what is a Caveat? The concept of “Caveat” was introduced in the mid-16th century. It is derived from the Latin language meaning “let a person beware.” We will discuss caveat in detail in this article, along with the format of caveat application.
What is a caveat?
Section 148A of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with the right to lodge a caveat by a person who claims to have the right to appear before the court on the hearing of such caveat application.
The person may claim the right to appear before the court when –
a) they expect an application to be made or has been made;
b) a suit or proceeding is expected to be instituted or about to be instituted
– then such a person may lodge a caveat petition.
A caveat is a legal document filed before the court stating that another person may file an application or suit against them and that the court should give the person submitting the caveat a fair hearing opportunity before taking into account any point presented before the court in such suit or application. It is filed when a person anticipates that any action or claim may be filed against that person or their property.
A person having a prospective interest in the suit can file a caveat petition if they believe that their interest will probably be affected by the court’s judgment. The Caveat petition should be served on all the parties to the suit and it should be replied to within 90 days from the date it is served.
A person filing a caveat is called a caveator. A caveator may not be a party to the suit.
In Sanjay Prakash Vs Union of India, 2021, the court allowed the impleadment application of five IPS Officers as they were able to demonstrate an interest in the outcome of five petitions for special leave to appeal. The court observed that the caveator has the right to be notified about the SLP. However, merely filing a caveat application cannot make them (the caveator) a party to the special leave to appeal.
Therefore, by filing a caveat application, the caveator cannot be entitled to be treated as a party to the proceedings, however, they have the right to be notified about the lodging of the SLP.
However, in Kattil Vayalil Parkkum Koiloth Vs Mannil Paddikayil Kadeesa Umma, the court had held that a complete stranger to the suit or proceedings could not file a caveat petition.
A caveat petition can be filed under Order XXXIX Rule 1 of the CPC (Temporary injunction orders) for the civil matter to notify the caveator if any action may be taken against them.
There is no clear definition of a caveat. However, the Supreme Court had defined the caveat in Nirmal Chand Vs Girindra Narayan as a “caution” given to the court by the Caveator that no order or judgment should be passed against them without giving them notice and an opportunity to be present before the court.
The objective of the Caveat application
The object of the Caveat application is to give everyone a fair chance to be heard, present their case, defend their rights before the court, and prevent any ex parte order. It is based on the principle of natural justice; Audi alteram partem meaning ‘listen to the other party’.
Benefits of filing a caveat
Following are the benefits of filing a caveat application
- Caveat allows the caveator to prepare themselves for a suit or proceeding.
- It protects the caveator from any ex-parte order of the court.
- It keeps the caveator well informed about the court procedure.
- It improves accessibility to the court, saves money, and protects the caveator throughout legal proceedings.
- If the opponent applies for an interim injunction or temporary relief, the court will not pass any ex-parte order without giving the caveator a fair hearing opportunity.
- Any order issued without notifying the caveator is void.
In C.G.C. Siddalingappa Vs G. C. Veeranna, 1981 a suit was filed seeking a declaration of title and permanent injunction for immovable property. Therefore, an interim injunction order was passed without notifying the appellant about it. The petitioner had applied for a caveat in anticipation that the respondent would file an appeal against the temporary injunction order. A copy of the caveat petition was sent to the respondent. consequently, the respondent filed an appeal seeking a temporary injunction. Henceforth, the court had directed to issue notice to the respondent regarding the appeal and application for temporary injunction. Later, the respondent further appealed to advance the case, which the court had also allowed.
The learned Civil Judge had passed an interim order staying the order passed by the trial court. The petitioner’s counsel had claimed that the notice was not served on the petitioner and his counsel.
The question raised was whether the learned Civil Judge could pass an ex parte order where a caveat was filed.
Hence, the Court had set aside the order of the learned Civil Judge and held that provisions under Section 148A(3) of CPC are compulsory and if it is not complied with, then the main object of the caveat petition will deteriorate. The Court is under an obligation under Section 148A (2) to serve a notice of the application in any suit or proceeding to the caveator.
Documents required for filing caveat
While filing a caveat application you should provide the following documents –
- Caveat petition or application signed by the caveator;
- Cause title and Case number;
- Name of the Court from which the appeal is made;
- Date of Impugned judgment;
- Designation of the authority;
- Memo of appearance;
- Vakalatnama of the advocate (in case, the caveator is represented by an advocate);
- Entry should be made in the caveat register containing the date and number of proceedings;
- A copy of the caveat application, along with proof that the notice is dispatched, and an explanation containing that a copy of the caveat application has been issued to the party to the suit.
- Affidavit in case the caveat petition is made before the High Court;
- Court fees
Where can a caveat application be submitted?
A caveat can be filed by a caveator wherever they suspect any legal actions would be taken against them, they can file a caveat application. in any civil court of original jurisdiction, High Court, Appellate Court, or Supreme Court. Civil courts may also include Forums, Tribunals, Commissions, and Small Causes Courts.
Can a caveat be filed in criminal cases in SC?
No, a caveat cannot be filed in criminal cases. As the Court had in Deepak Khosla Vs Union of India & Ors held that a caveat cannot be filed under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution or against any matter referred under Criminal Procedure Code and that the Section 148A of CPC applies only to civil matters.
What is the process of filing a Caveat Petition in India?
Here is the step-by-step guide to filing a caveat petition in India –
Step 1: Prepare the Caveat Petition – The Caveat petition should include the name of both the petitioner and respondent and other details. It should also contain the grounds for filing the caveat petition including the matter, the nature of the dispute, the rights seeking protection, etc.
Step 2: Filing a Caveat Petition – After the preparation of the caveat petition, it must be filed in the court either physically or online on the payment of appropriate cost fees.
Step 3: Submit documents – While filing a caveat, the caveator should submit all the relevant documents that are being challenged by the other party.
Step 4: Serving the Caveat Petition – After filing the caveat petition, it should be served to the respective parties to the suit either by post or in person.
Step 5: Hearing the Caveat Petition – Once the petition is served, the court will hear the caveat petition, wherein both parties will be allowed to put forward their matter and argue.
Step 6: Obtain an Order – After hearing the matter, the court will decide whether to accept or reject the caveat. If the court accepts the caveat, then an interim order will be issued once the party is heard. If the caveat is rejected by the court, then the court will proceed with the suit.
Step 7: Serve the Order – This is a crucial step, once the court accepts the caveat then, the other party should be aware that a caveat petition is filed before the court.
Step 8: File a reply – After serving the order to the other party, then a reply should be filed before the court containing the case details, grounds of caveat, and the relief requested.
How to file a caveat in the SC online?
You can file a caveat online by going to the e-filing option given at https://main.sci.gov.in/efiling register your account by paying the requisite court fees and printing charges.
You can also follow the given steps to file a case online before the Supreme Court –
- File a petition as per Form 28 and Supreme Court Rules 2013.
- File legible Annexures in a separate PDF format
- File a relevant application
- Pay the requisite court fees at the time of filing the case
- Digital or scanned copy of Vakalatnama digitally signed by every petitioner or respondent
- Para 1 of the SLP and Prayer section should contain the details of the case.
- SLP (Special Leave Petition) civil should be drafted as per SCR 2013 in the eighth paragraph
- An affidavit accompanying any digital or scanned petition and applications.
- The paragraph in Para1 of SLP should state that no LPA/Writ Appeal lies against the impugned order, in case the SLP is filed against a single judge’s order.
Once, all the details are entered and after the specimen signature form is submitted by the Advocate on Record (AOR) or Party -in–person at the computer cell, then you will start receiving SMS/email for alerts.
Memorandum of Caveat Petition
(Under Section 148-A and order 52 CPC)
In the High Court of Judicature at ____________.
Caveat Petition No:
(Details of Caveator)
(Details of Appellant/Caveatee/Opponent)
This Caveat petition states as follows –
- Pray that no ex-parte order may be passed by the High Court of __________, in a Suit/Application/Petition filed by the above-named Opponent for the purpose of a recovery order against the caveator relating to ___________ (subject matter of the case).
- The address of the Caveator and the Opponent is mentioned above in the title clause for the service of summons/notices under this Suit/Petition/Application.
- The Caveator undertakes to serve a copy of this Caveat application relating to the Suit/Application/Petition to the above-named opponent by a registered post with acknowledgment along with proof of service.
- The Caveator requests the Court to kindly notify the Caveator before passing any order against the Caveator regarding any interim application which is filed by the Opponent in the Suit/Application/Petition.
- Any order passed by the Court in the interest of justice.
Counsel for Caveator Caveator
A Caveat is an application or a legal notice that is filed in a court that serves as an intimation to the court that no legal action should be taken against the person making a caveat application. This is done to prevent the court from passing any ex-parte order without giving an opportunity to hear the caveator’s interest. A caveat can be filed for civil matters. The caveator should file a caveat along with all the relevant documents stating the grounds for filing the caveat. The court may either accept or reject the caveat application. The person filing a caveat may not be a party to the suit.