Suit of Civil Nature—Section 9
Q. Explain the expression ‘Suit of a civil nature’.
Rajasthan Judicial Service Exam. 1992
U.P. Judicial Service Exam. 2000, 1986 AND 1988
Bihar Judicial Service Exam. 1991, 1978, 2000
West Bengal Judicial Service Exam. 1998 (Similar question) AND 2003
M.P. Higher Judicial Service (Additional District Judge) Exam. 2007 (Main Exam.)
Ans: Section 9 of Civil Procedure Code provides that a civil court has jurisdiction to try all suits of civil nature if they are not barred (either expressly or impliedly).
Further Explanation 1 attached to Section 9 makes it clear that a suit in which the right to property or right to an office is contested is suit of a civil nature, though such right may defend entirely on the decision of the questions relating to religious rites or ceremonies.
Again Explanation II attached to Section 9 makes it clear that in order to come within the ambit of the expression “suit of a civil nature”, it is not necessary that some fee should be attached to the term ‘Office’ mentioned in Explanation 1 of Section 9. In other words it can be said that if the dispute relating to an office is involved in a case, it is a suit of civil nature, whether or not any fee is attached to office.
Thus, we find that Section 9 uses the expression ‘suit of a civil nature’ but it does not define the expression except making some clarification in two explanations attached to Section 9.
But as a result of a catena of judicial decisions now it is well-settled that a suit can be said to be of civil nature if the object of the suit is the enforcement of civil rights or civil obligations.
Thus, the expression ‘suit of a civil nature also covers private rights and obligations of a citizen, whether they have been acquired under any rule or regulation or not (Assessing Authority, Ludhiana v. Mansharam, AIR 1965 Punj 459). But purely social, political and religious questions are not covered by the expression ‘suit of a civil nature’. Hence, if a question is purely a caste question, it is not a suit of civil nature for being purely a social question, for example—non-invitation of a person in the caste dinner.
However, if the principal question in the suit is of a civil nature i.e., right to property or to an office, and the adjudication incidentally involves the determination relating to a caste or to a religious rites or ceremonies, it does not cease to be a suit of civil nature and jurisdiction of a civil court is not barred.
Thus, important points regarding expression ‘suit of a civil nature’ may be summed up as follows:—
(1) A suit is of civil nature, if the main question in it relates to the determination of civil rights and its enforcement. Thus, it is not the status of the parties to the suit but the subject-matter of it which determines whether or not the suit is of civil nature.
(2) The expression ‘suit of a civil nature’ will cover private rights and obligations also of a citizen. Purely social, religious and political questions are not covered by the expression ‘suit of a civil nature’.
(3) A suit in which right to property or to an office is contested is a suit of civil nature—Explanation 1 of Section 9.
(4) If the question in a suit is related to an ‘office’, it is suit of civil nature, whether or not any fees are attached to office.
(5) If the main question in the suit is of a civil nature (right to property or to an office) and the adjudication incidentally involves the determination relating to a caste or to a religious rites or ceremonies, it does not cease to be a suit of civil nature