Caveat: An Overview

The term Caveat is a Latin term which means “let a person beware” or “hint to a person”. In law it can be understood as a notice given asking not to act in a certain manner without informing the person who gave such a notice. Basically, it is a right given to a person in civil proceedings to avoid ex-parte orders or judgments. Caveat is a precautionary measure taken against the grant of probate by lodging a caveat.

Interpretation of Caveat:

Section 148A of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 deals with caveat. It has been inserted by the amendment of 1976. The term caveat is not anywhere expressly defined by the code of 1908. However, in the case of Nirmal Chand v. Girindra Narayan AIR 1978, the court defined caveat as forewarning given by an individual person to the court that no order or judgment shall be passed deprived of furnishing any notice or without hearing the caveator. The person who files a caveat is called the Caveator and the person who has instituted a suit or is likely to do so is called caveatee.

Scope:

The application of caveat can be filed in a suit or a proceeding. Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the expression “Civil Proceeding” under section 141 included all kinds of proceedings which are not original proceedings. Therefore, an application of caveat can be filed in all suits, appeals, and proceedings under the Civil Procedure Code. In the case where the caveator is absent in a proceeding the court shall find the prima facie case in the favor of the applicant, ad interim relief shall be granted by the court in his favor. However, in Deepak Khosla v. Union of India & Ors, the court held that Section 148A of the code applies 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. The provision for caveat is mentioned in Civil Procedure Code, Legislature has not mentioned or defined for any such provisions in Code of Criminal Procedure and therefore, caveat as filed by the petitioner in criminal proceeding is not viable or maintainable.

When to lodge a caveat:

As per section 148A of CPC, when a person is apprehended that some case against him can be filed or is about to be filed in any court of law, in any manner, the parson has right to lodge a caveat. The Caveat may be lodged in the form of a petition during an ongoing suit or litigation and in that the application is already been made or is expected to be made; or when the suit is about to be instituted and in that suit, an application is expected to be made.

Who can lodge a caveat:

A caveat may be lodged by any person who is going to be affected by an interim order likely to be passed on an application which is anticipated to be made in a suit or proceeding instituted or about to be instituted in a Court. Caveat can be filed by a third party as well, if they in any manner are connected to the suit in question. However, a caveat cannot be lodged by a person who is a total stranger to the case and the same principle was laid down in Kattil Vayalil Parkkum Koiloth v. Mannil Paadikayil Kadeesa Umma. In the same way, a person supporting the application for interim relief made by the applicant also cannot file a caveat.

How to lodge a caveat:

Section 148A of CPC says that caveat shall be signed by the caveator or his advocate. When the caveator is represented by an advocate, it should be accompanied by his Vakalatnama. The caveat to be filed shall be registered in a caveat register maintained by the courts in the form of a petition or any other form that may be prescribed. The register contains the date, name and address of caveator, name of plaintiff and defendant, number of proceedings filed as anticipated by caveator.

Caveat is always filed with a copy, postal proof and an application explaining to the court that a copy of a caveat has been sent to all the parties and thus the court need not do the same. The court fees for the same is nominal and the rules and format of the caveat are almost similar for the most of the courts. This Caveat will be in effect for 90 days from the date of its filing.  After 90 days Fresh Caveat Petition can be filed.

Notice:

After filing of a caveat, any application made in any suit or legal proceedings, the court is required to give a notice about the same application to the caveator. When a notice has been served on the applicant, the applicant at the expense of the caveator is required to provide the caveator with a copy of the application made by him along with the document that may have been submitted with the application. If the court or applicant does not inform the caveator, then the decree or judgment passed thereafter becomes null and void.  

Therefore, a caveat may be lodged in any civil suit including tribunals and forums in the form of petition.  The main aim of caveat is to make sure that the interest of the caveator is protected.

References:

The Civil Procedure Court, 1908

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