What is the distinction between O 7 R 10 of CPC(Return of the plaint) and S 10 of CPC(Stay of suit)?

At the outset, it is necessary to note a submission, of Mr. Sai Deepak, that Order VII Rule 10, and Section 10, of the CPC, were required to be read together. This submission deserves, in my opinion, to be rejected even at this stage. A bare reading of Section 10, and Order VII Rule 10, of the CPC, reveals that the submission of Mr. Sai Deepak is, in fact, contrary to the statutory scheme, as contemplated in the said provisions. Section 10 deals with stay of a pending suit, and reads thus:

“10. Stay of suit.-

No court shall proceed with the trial of any suit in which the matter in issue is also directly and substantially in issue in a previously instituted suit between the same parties, or between parties under whom they, or any of them claim litigating under the same title where such suit is pending in the same or any other Court in India having jurisdiction to grant the relief claimed, or in any Court beyond the limits of India established or continued by the Central Government and having like jurisdiction, or before the Supreme Court.

Explanation.-The pendency of the suit in a foreign Court does not preclude the Courts in India from trying the suit founded on the same cause of action.”

Order VII Rule 10, per contra, deals with “return of plaint”, and reads thus:

“10. Return of plaint.-

(1) Subject to the provisions of rule 10A, the plaint shall at any stage of the suit be returned to be presented to the Court in which the suit should have been instituted.

Explanation.-For the removal of doubt, it is hereby declared that the Court of appeal or revision may direct, after setting aside the decree passed in the suit, the return of the plaint under this sub-rule.

(2) Procedure on returning plaint.-On returning of plaint, the Judge shall endorse thereon the date of its presentation and returned, the name of the party presenting it, and a brief statement of the reasons for returning it.”

  1. The plain words of Section 10, and Order VII Rule 10, of the CPC, disclose that they contemplate distinct eventualities, and envisage distinct consequences. Section 10 does not, in any manner, impact the maintainability of the suit, which is required to be stayed thereunder. The Supreme Court has, in National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences v. C. Parameshwara AIR 2005 SCC 242, held that Section 10 applies only where “the whole of the subject matter in both the suits is identical”. The fundamental test, which would determine the applicability, or otherwise, of Section 10 has, in the said decision, been identified as “whether on final decision being reached in the previous suit, such a decision would operate as res judicata in the subsequent suit”. The guiding philosophy, behind the provision is, quite obviously, the inadvisability of two courts dealing with identical disputes, between the same parties, concurrently. The progress of the later suit has, therefore, statutorily been required to await the outcome of the suit preferred earlier in point of time. As against this, Order VII Rule 10A specifically contemplates a situation in which the suit, imperilled by the provision, should not have been instituted in the court in which it was instituted. The provision, therefore, relates to the point of time, and the stage, when the suit was instituted in the court, in stark contradistinction with Section 10, which impedes the trial of the suit, but does not, even indirectly, visualize any lacuna in the institution of the suit. The consequence, of Section 10 being applicable to a particular case, is stay of the trial in that case. The plaint is not returned to the plaintiff, for institution elsewhere. As against this, Order VII Rule 10 stipulates that, where the suit was instituted in a court, in which it ought not to have been instituted, the plaint shall be returned to the plaintiff, for being instituted in the proper court. Invocation of Order VII Rule 10, therefore, results in removal, completely, of the suit, from the records of the court, where it was erroneously instituted, whereas invocation of Section 10 merely places the trial of the suit in, as it were, a state of suspended animation.
  2. The contention of Mr. Sai Deepak that Section 10 and Order VII Rule 10 of the CPC are required to be read together is, therefore, fundamentally misconceived, and is accordingly rejected.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI

I.As. 2594, 2595, 2596, 4274 and 5209/2020 in CS (COMM.) 611/2019

Decided On: 15.07.2020

FMC Corporation Vs. NATCO Pharma Limited

Hon’ble Judges/Coram:
C. Hari Shankar, J.

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