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'Window Dressing' Can’t Help Revive a Case, Says Supreme Court

The top court noted that the Code of Civil Procedure imposed limitations on filing different suits with a same cause of action and thus duplicity of proceedings was impermissible.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:October 4, 2018, 8:30 AM IST
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'Window Dressing' Can’t Help Revive a Case, Says Supreme Court
File photo of the Supreme Court of India.
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New Delhi: “Window dressing” cannot give a fresh lease of life to a case already decided by a court of law, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench of Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Indu Malhotra was emphatic that a petition is to be read in full and a mere change in one part of it to achieve the same end cannot be permitted.

“It is a well settled principle that the plaint has to be read as a whole, and a change in the prayer as a piece of window dressing will not affect what is the real cause of action in a suit,” maintained the bench.

The top court noted that the Code of Civil Procedure imposed limitations on filing different suits with a same cause of action and thus duplicity of proceedings was impermissible.

The case related to execution of four sale deeds between two parties. In 2008, the seller of the plots disputed the sale deeds by filing a civil suit in 2008. In 2015, the civil suit was withdrawn. But in 2016, another civil suit was filed against the same sale deeds.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court said that there appears to be a fresh cause of action because an injunction was being sought against the buyers, who were threatening the seller’s family of forcefully starting the construction work on the piece of land.

The apex court, however, set aside the High Court’s view. “The window dressing of this suit cannot be missed – that now a mandatory injunction is asked for on a so-called fresh cause of action,” said the bench.

It pointed out that both the civil suits were filed by the seller and his family for the same relief.

“The second suit is a suit between the same parties on the same cause of action as the earlier suit, which was withdrawn by the plaintiff as he did not intend to pursue the suit. The second suit is therefore directly hit by Order 23 Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure,” held the bench.

The top court allowed the appeal filed by the purchasers of the land and let them go ahead with the execution proceedings, while quashing the High Court’s order.
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