The Latin term “Caveat” means, “let a person beware” which was originated in the middle of 16th century. Generally, it is a warning where in law, it is considered as a notice, through which Court may not take certain actions without informing the person who gave the notice. The Law Commission of India recommended insertion of caveat petition in the Civil Procedure Code. Accordingly, Section 148A has been inserted by the Amendment Act of 1976. A caveat petition is a precautionary measure which is undertaken by people usually when they are having a very strong apprehension that some case is going to be filed in the Court regarding their interest in any manner. For example, if A requests any court that in case a specified person or organization files a case in the court in which A is having some valid interest, then the Court should not pass any order regarding that case without giving notice to A.
The word ‘Caveat’ is not defined in the Code. However, in case of Nirmal Chand v. Girindra Narayan, the Court had defined the word Caveat, wherein it said, A Caveat is a caution or warning given by a person to the Court not to take any action or grant relief to the other side without giving notice to the caveator and without affording an opportunity of hearing him. According to the dictionary meaning, “a caveat is an entry made in the books of the offenses of the registry or court to prevent a certain step being taken without previous notice to the person entering the caveat.”
When to lodge a Caveat Petition?
If any person apprehends that some case against him is filed or is about to be filed in any court of law in any manner, he can lodge a caveat in the form of a petition when an ongoing suit or litigation and in that the application is already been made or is expected to be made. A caveat can also be filed when the suit is about to be instituted and in that suit, an application is expected to be made. In these situations the right to lodge a caveat arises.
Who may lodge a Caveat Petition?
Caveator, the person who apprehends that if any case is filed or is about to be filed in any court of law in which he has an interest, he can lodge a caveat petition. The caveator can move the application for interim relief. Caveator can be necessary parties as well as the proper party. The person who is affected by any order of the court even though not a party to the case, can also file an application for a caveat.
A total stranger to the case cannot lodge a caveat petition and the same principle was laid down in Kattil Vayalil Parkkum Koiloth v. Mannil Paadikayil Kadeesa Umma.
Where can a caveat be lodged?
A caveator can file a petition for caveat in any Civil Court of original jurisdiction, Appellate Court, High Court as well as Supreme Court. Civil Courts include Courts of Small Causes, Tribunals, Forums, and Commissions. However, in Deepak Khosla v. Union of India & Ors, it was held that Section 148A of the code can be applied to civil proceedings only and caveat cannot be made against petitions made under the Criminal Procedure Code or petition made under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
How to file a Caveat Petition?
According to Section 148A of Civil Procedure Code, a caveat should be signed by the caveator or the advocate of the caveator. With the accompany of the Vakalatnama, the advocate represents the caveator. Generally, a caveat may be filed in the form of a petition or any other form prescribed. A caveat contains the date of the caveat, the name and address of the caveator, the name of the plaintiff and the defendant and the number of proceedings filed in the court of law. A caveat is always filed with a copy, the postal proof and an application explaining to the court that a copy of the caveat has been sent to all the parties and thus the court need not do the same. Even though the court fees For filing a caveat the court fees vary from one court to another court, generally the fees should be less than INR 100. For most of the courts, there is a difference in the rules and the format of filing caveat petition.
While filing a petition of caveat in High Court, the below-mentioned steps should be followed:
- Support the caveat petition with an affidavit and in both the petition the caveator should sign;
- Apart from this, a vakalatnama, impugned order (if any), and proof of service of notice of caveat is also to be submitted to the Court.
The Reserve Bank of India Employees association & anr. v. The Reserve Bank of India & Ors, a caveat petition was filed by the appellants apprehending an injunction order by the respondent. For the caveat filed, the plaintiffs were served with a notice and all other relevant papers or documents. They were also informed that the application will be moved on 28-10-1980. However, the application was not heard on the said date, rather heard later on 30-10-1980. The petitioners argued that as the court failed to provide the plaintiff with the notice of the order, the judgment would be void and null, in accordance with clause (3) of Section 148A. The court disagreed with the appellants and held that caveat gives the right to be informed about hearing of the case and not takes away the right of a court to deliver a judgment or order on the merits of the case. Mere lodging of caveat does not deprive the court of its power to deliver orders or judgments.
To conclude, Section 148A is substantive in nature to give the right to any person who has apprehension that any case against him or her is going to be filed in a court of law in any manner, to lodge a caveat in the court. A caveat may be lodged in any civil suit including tribunals and forums in the form of a petition. Normally, a caveat lodged under Section 148A will remain in force for 90 days from the date of its filing. When the prescribed period of 90 days is over, a caveat may be renewed. Any judgment or order passed without giving such notice or without giving a reasonable opportunity to the caveator to be heard, would be considered void and null.
 Hindushree, “Caveat Petition,” Legal Service India, (accesses March 29, 2020), http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/2124/caveat-petition.html.
 AIR 1978 Cal 492.
 Earl Jowitt Dictionary of English Law (1977) Vol 1.
 Tosani Lal, “What does a Caveat petition mean?” Law Times Journal, (accessed March 30), http://lawtimesjournal.in/what-does-a-caveat-petition-mean/.
 AIR 1991 Ker 411.
 AIR 2011 Del 199.
 Anand Sharma, “HOW TO LODGE A CAVEAT PETITION IN INDIAN COURT?” PATHLEGAL, (accessed March 31, 2020), https://www.pathlegal.in/How-to-lodge-a-caveat-petition-in-Indian-court—blog-1027386.
 Mehar Verma, “Elaboration of Caveat Under CPC,” IPLEADERS, (accessed March 31, 2020), https://www.google.com/amp/s/blog.ipleaders.in/caveat-under-civil-procedure-code/amp/.
 AIR 1981 AP 246.
This article is written by Ananya Mondal, student of LLB at Haldia Law College affiliated to Vidyasagar University.
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