06 June 2020

Bar of period of limitation is a mix question of facts and law

Plaint can not be rejected on the ground of bar by limitation

   Whether plaint can be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC if defendant claims the suit to be barred by limitations and disputes the time of accrual of cause of action?

Held:
   Plain can not be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 of C.P.C. if accrual of cause of action as mentioned in the plaint is disputed to be beyond period of limitation.
   Genuineness of assertion in respect of accrual of cause of action is a mix question of facts and law.

Bar of period of limitation is a mix question of facts and law
The central question is: whether the plaint as filed by the appellant could have been rejected by invoking Order VII Rule 11(d) of the CPC? Indeed, Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC gives ample power to the Court to reject the plaint, if from the averments in the plaint, it is evident that the suit is barred by any law including the law of limitation. This position is no more res integra. We may usefully refer to the decision of this Court in Ram Prakash Gupta vs. Rajiv Kumar Gupta & Ors2. In paragraph Nos. 13 to 20 of the reported decision, the Court observed as follows: ­ “13. As per Order 7 Rule 11, the plaint is liable to be rejected in the following cases:

“(a) where it does not disclose a cause of action;
(b) where the relief claimed is undervalued, and the plaintiff, on being required by the court to correct the valuation within a 2 (2007) 10 SCC 59 time to be fixed by the court, fails to do so;
(c) where the relief claimed is properly valued but the plaint is written upon paper insufficiently stamped, and the plaintiff, on being required by the court to supply the requisite stamp paper within a time to be fixed by the court, fails to do so;
(d) where the suit appears from the statement in the plaint to be barred by any law;
(e) where it is not filed in duplicate;
(f) where the plaintiff fails to comply with the provisions of Rule 9.”[Para No.6]

   It is well established position that the cause of action for filing a suit would consist of bundle of facts. Further, the factum of suit being barred by limitation, ordinarily, would be a mixed question of fact and law. Even for that reason, invoking Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC is ruled out. In the present case, the assertion in the plaint is that the appellant verily believed that its claim was being processed by the Regional Office and the Regional Office would be taking appropriate decision at the earliest. That belief was shaken after receipt of letter from the Senior Manager of the Bank, dated 8.5.2002 followed by another letter dated 19.9.2002 to the effect that the action taken by the Bank was in accordance with the rules and the appellant need not correspond with the Bank in that regard any further. This firm response from the respondent­Bank could trigger the right of the appellant to sue the respondent­Bank. Moreover, the fact that the appellant had eventually sent a legal notice on 28.11.2003 and again on 7.1.2005 and then filed the suit on 23.2.2005, is also invoked as giving rise to cause of action.

   Whether this plea taken by the appellant is genuine and legitimate, would be a mixed question of fact and law, depending on the response of the respondents.[Para No.13]

Supreme Court of India

M/S. Shakti Bhog Food Industries
Vs.
The Central Bank Of India

decided on 05/06/2020


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