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Summary Suits: Meaning & Application
It is a special procedure for hearing a civil suit wherein all the proceedings are to be carried out in a time bound manner and is referred to as a "summary suit trial." The process of summary suit may be used only in those civil cases where the relief claimed by the plaintiff is a fixed amount of money. The procedure for summary suit has been provided under Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Benefits of a Summary Procedure in a Suit
The advantages of the summary suit procedure are readily apparent from the provisions of Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure. The most obvious benefits of this procedure may be as follows − namely
Ensuring expeditious proceedings
To avoid unreasonable delay caused by the parties, especially by the defendant.
To prevent the defendant from raising a frivolous defence
To ensure fast disposal of the suits and to save the courts' precious time and resources.
Category of Cases for Summary Suit
The provisions of a summary suit are a special procedure that can be used only for the special category of civil case specified in Rule 1(2) of Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure. The cases must be of such a kind that the plaintiff's claim is to recover a debt or liquidated demand in money payable by the defendant, with or without interest. In other words, the claim must be to recover a fixed sum of money on account of a debit; however, the claim should not be on account of a penalty. The said provision mentions that the summary suit may be filed only in the following classes of cases −
Law suits based on bills of exchange
Suits on a written contract
Suit for the recovery of money
Suits for an enactment
Suit on a guarantee
The Process of Filing Summary Suits
The mandatory requirements for filing a summary suit under the provisions of the Code are as follows −
There must be a specific averment in the plaint of the suit that the suit is filed under this order.
The plaint of the suit must, on the very first page, just below the number of the suit, inscribe "Under Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908) indicating that the suit is under this provision.
There must be a declaration by the plaintiff that no relief that does not fall within the ambit of this rule has been claimed in the plaint.
Court in which a Summary Suit can be Filed
It is clear from the provision mentioned under Rule 1(1) of Order XXXVII, the Code of Civil Procedure, that a suit under this order can only be filed in the courts that are listed in the provision itself. So from the provision, it is apparent that a summary suit cannot be filed in the Supreme Court. So only the following courts can hear summary suits −
City Civil Courts, also known as District Courts
Small Causes Courts and Other Courts.
Cases where a Summary Suit cannot be Filed
A summary suit is a special provision applicable to a special class of cases enumerated in rule 1(2) of Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure. So it is obvious from the provision that a summary suit cannot be filed in cases in which there is a triable issue in the dispute. The "triable issue" refers to those issues that are to be determined by the court on the basis of the evidence and proofs. So in those cases where the claim sought by the plaintiff is based on the interpretation of a clause in a document and the amount is not certain, summary procedure cannot be permitted. However, summary suit was permitted in cases where money was given by the plaintiff to the defendant in pursuance of an agreement for business and promissory notes were executed by the defendant in favour of the plaintiff as security for payment. The suit was based on the promissory note, but the claim was independent of the agreement.
The summary procedure provides the litigants with an easy and fast way to finish their cases. In summary, procedural hearings are conducted in a fast and expeditious manner to avoid unreasonable delay caused by frivolous defences raised by the defendant and to save the precious time and resources of the courts. All civil cases are not covered under this special provision; only those cases that meet the conditions for the filing of a summary suit may be covered by this provision. Therefore, it is only a procedure for specific suits where the claim is fixed and will not be decided on the basis of triable issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What types of civil disputes can be resolved by the procedure of a summary suit?
Ans: A summary suit may be filed only in cases where suits are being filed to claim the amount for which bills of exchange, cheque, promissory notes have been issued by the defendant and to recover a fixed amount of money with interest.
Q2. What are "triable issues"?
Ans: The triable issues are such issues that are to be determined by the court on the basis of the evidence and proofs given by the parties to the suit. For example, an issue of interpretation of a contract or a document is definitely a triable issue.
Q3. What are the prerequisites for filing a summary action?
Ans: The following conditions must be satisfied before filing a case under summary suit −
The plaintiff must make a specific averment in the plaint of the suit that the suit is filed under this order. Further on the very first page of the plaint just below the number of the suit, it should be clearly mentioned that the suit is "Under Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908," indicating that the suit is under this provision. Furthermore, there must be a declaration by the plaintiff that no relief that does not fall within the ambit of this rule has been claimed in the plaint.
Q4. Which order of the Code of Civil Procedure (1908) provides for filing a summary suit?
Ans: The provisions for filing summary suits are given under Order XXXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure.
Q5.To which court a summary suit can be filed?
Ans: The summary suit can be filed only in the following courts −
City Civil Courts, also known as District Courts,
Small Causes Courts and Other Courts
Q6. What are the objectives for filing a summary suit?
Ans: The most obvious goal of filing a suit under summary procedure is to ensure an expeditious hearing of the suit, saving both the litigants' and the courts' valuable time. Further, it ensures that no party is permitted to cause delay in the proceedings or to raise a frivolous defence if he has no genuine case.
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