The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 contains some miscellaneous provisions which while providing remedies and protects the parties also provide certain powers to third party. The same is laid down in the provisions with regard to the caveat. The term though not been defined in the code, the procedure regarding the same is dealt under section 148-A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

In simple words, the “caveat” being derived from Latin means beware. According to the Concise Oxford dictionary[1] a caveat is an entry made in the books of the offices of a registry or to prevent a certain step being taken without previous notice to the person entering the caveat. So it can be deduced that the person in interest is required to be intimated before taking any decision or action against or in favour of him. Therefore, this precautionary measure is taken as a request to the court not to pass any order in a suit or proceeding instituted or likely to be instituted before it, unless the caveator is heard. In other words, caveat is an application to the effect that before passing any order, the court must hear the caveator. The person who lodges a caveat is called the caveator.

Before dealing with the procedure, it must be established that it is not necessary that the parties be a caveator. Even a third person can lodge a caveat. Any person, whose rights are likely to be affected by an order that may be passed by the court, is competent to file a caveat. Such person may be a necessary party or may be a proper party. Whereas a person is not entitled to file a caveat who is neither a party to the suit nor his rights are likely to be affected by an order to be passed by the court, is not entitled to file a caveat. So it includes complete strangers to the suit. It has also been observed that a person supporting the application for interim relief made by the applicant also cannot file a caveat.[2]

The provision of caveat thereby safeguards the interest of a person against an order which may be passed against him at the same time, the intent of the legislature to provide this provision is to avoid the multiplicity of litigations.[3] Since a person who might be aggrieved or adversely affected by order has to take appropriate legal action. But due to provisions as to caveat, such can be mitigated by an application dealing with the matter in same proceeding only. The person who makes such application for order in a suit is thereby called a caveatee. It is on such application of caveatee, the caveator claims his right of hearing before any order is passed.

The procedure with regard to a caveat is that there is no particular form in regard to lodging of a caveat. A caveat may be lodged in form of a petition wherein the caveator has to specify the nature of the application. The stamp reporter or Registry of the court will keep a register wherein entries will be made of the filing of caveats.[4] After filing the caveat, the caveator shall serve the notice of the caveat by registered post acknowledged due to the person by whom the application has been or is expected to be made for such order.

Where after a caveat is lodged, and after that an application has been made by the caveatee for an interim order, the court shall serve a notice of the application on the caveator. And where the notice has been served to the caveatee, he shall furnish the caveator at caveator’s own expense a copy of application made by him and other copies of documents which are filed by him in support of his application.

It is to be kept in mind that even a petition of caveat has limitation effect as such caveat shall not remain in force after the expiry of ninety days from the date it was lodged, but unless, an application has been made before the expiry of said period. It is also provided that a caveator may renew the caveat.

 Consequently it also imposes some rights and duties on the court. Once a caveat has been lodged, it becomes the duty of the court to issue a notice of the application to the caveator for the purpose of enabling him to appear and oppose the granting of interim relief in favour of the caveatee. The court cannot make an order without serving a notice of such application. At the same time, the notice of application within itself means the date of hearing and henceforth, it implies the duty of the court to give a sufficiently reasonable and definite time to the caveator to appear and oppose the application.[5]

It can also be adduced that notice to caveator is a condition precedent for passing of an interim relief since no orders are passed by court ex parte.[6] If such notice is not supplied, it is not permissible for the court to pass an interim order, since it will defeat the whole purpose of Section 148-A. This would make the provisions with regard to Caveat nugatory and meaningless because even in the absence of these provisions, before the passing of final orders, the other side is required to be heard. And it was observed that it is the requirement of natural justice. However, it has been held that an interim order without hearing the caveator is not without jurisdiction and operates unless set aside.[7] These provisions therefore provides for all the necessary procedure and rules with regard to this precautionary measure of caveat.

[1] (2002) at page 225

[2] Mahatama Gandhi Housing Colony Development Society v. Devangapuri Gram Panchayat 1995 AIHC 3243 (AP)

[3] Nirmal Chandra v. Girindra Narayan AIR 1978 Cal 492

[4] Chandrajit V. Ganeshiya AIR 1987 All 360

[5] G.C. Siddalingappa v. G.C. Veeranna AIR 1981 Kant 242

[6] Seethaiah v. Govt. Of A.P. AIR 1983 AP 443

[7] Employees Assn. v. RBI AIR 1981 AP 246

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