Civil Case Stages

A typical Civil case would go through the following stages:

Institution Phase

  • Institution of suit
  • Issue and service of summons
  • Appearance of defendant
  • Written statement, and set-off claims by defendant
  • Replication'Rejoinder by Plaintiff
  • Framing of Issues

Trial Phase

  • Plaintiff Evidence
  • Cross-Examination of Plaintiff Evidence
  • Defendant Evidence
  • Cross-Examination of Defendant Evidence
  • Final Argument

Judgement Phase

  • Judgement/Decree
  • Review of Decree
  • Appeal
  • Execution of Decree

Institution of suit:

Every suit is commenced when the plaintiff files a plaint to the court. Plaint is filed as a pleading. The case is registered by the court and logged in its records. It is possible that court decides to consolidate the suit with an ongoing trial as well.

Contents of the Plaint

The plaint should contain the following:

  • name of the court where suit is brought
  • name, decryption, and place of residence of plaintiff
  • name, decryption, and place of residence of defendant
  • where the plaintiff or the defendant is a minor or a person of unsound mind, a statement to that effect;
  • the facts constituting the cause of action and when it arose;
  • the facts showing that the Court has jurisdiction;
  • the relief which the plaintiff claims;
  • where the plaintiff has allowed a set-off or relinquished a portion of his claim, the amount so allowed or relinquished; and
  • a statement of the value of the subject-matter of the suit for the purposes of jurisdiction and of court fees, so far as the case admits.
  • In money suits - the damages (in form of money)
  • Identification of property if the subject matter of suit is related to immovable property.
  • Proof of defendant's liability.
  • Relief which the plaintiff seeks
  • List of documents being submitted with the plaint.

Plaint review

The court will review the plaint and can reject the plaint in following situations:

  • where it does not disclose a cause of action;
  • where the relief claimed is undervalued, and the plaintiff, on being required by the Court to correct the valuation within a time to be fixed by the Court, fails to do so;
  • where the relief claimed is properly valued, but the plaint is returned 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;
  • where the suit appears from the statement in the plaint to be barred by any law

Issue and service of summons

Once the suit is registered, summons are send to the defendant to appear in court on a specified date. The summons shall be signed by the judge and sealed with the seal of court. The summons is accompanied by plaint as well.

The court, if sees fit, may also require the plaintiff to be present as well during the appearance of defendant.

The court may require the party to appear in person only if they

  • They reside within the local limits or the court's ordinary jurisdiction
  • They reside at place less than fifty or (where there is railway or steamer communication or other established public conveyance for five-sixths of the distance between the place where he resides and the place where the Court is situate) less than two hundred miles distance from the Court-house

If the defendant is not required to appear in person then the defendant may send a pleader to represent his case.

Summons for final disposition

If the court deems fit, the summons can be sent for final disposition (instead of settling the issues). If the summons is sent for the final disposition, then the summons would mention this and would also direct the defendant to produce all the documents, evidence, and witnesses to support his case.

Appearance of Defendant

The defendant needs to appear in the court either personally, or by a representative on the date mentioned in the summons. If the summons was for final disposal, then the defendant needs to present evidence, documents, and any witnesses to support his case.

Written Statement, set-off and claims by defendant

The defendant needs to submit a written statement on or before the day of appearance. The defendant can also claim a set-off or can make a counter-claim in his written statement. If the defendant does not file written statement then court may take the decision based on plaint itself. If the court requires that the written statement must be filed, and defendant does not do so, then the court may take an decision against the defendant.

Contents of the Written statement

If the defendant relies on any document for his/her defense, set-off, or counter-claim, then those documents should be mentioned in a list and attached along with the written statement. These documents are supposed to be presented to court with the written statement. If the defendant does not possess those documents then he/she should specify in whose possession those documents are.

It should be noted that if any document is not mentioned in the list, it cannot be accepted as evidence in the court unless specifically allowed by the court.

The written statement must individually address all the allegations that the defendant does not agree with in the plaint.

The written statement should also mention the amount claimed by the defendant as set-off claim.

Replication/Rejoinder by Plaintiff

The written statement can also include the details of counter-claim. This counter-claim is treated as plaint. All the documents upon which the counter claim is based should be presented to the court with the counter-claim. The plaintiff may file a written statement against the counter-claim.

Examination of parties by Court

On the first hearing the court will ask each party whether the allegations are true or false. This can be asked orally by the judge. The response is recorded by the judge in writing.

Framing of Issues

At the first hearing of the suit court frames the issues pertaining to the suit. Issues arise when the allegations of a party are denied by other. Each such allegation (which is denied by other party) shall be a issue and in the end judgement is given individually on the issues. Issue can be issue of fact, or issue of law. The court can form the issues by looking at the plaint and written statement, or it may interrogate the parties, witnesses and or look at documents in order to determine the issue. For this the court may be adjourned further unless the court can frame the issues. The issues are formally recorded by the court. However, if the defendant makes no defense in the first hearing then issues may not be formed and judgement may be given.

Modification of issues

The court may amend or remove any issues before passing a decree as it seems fit. Though an application can also be filed with the court by either party for amendment of issues.

Evidence and Cross-Examination of plaintiff

The plaintiff has the right to begin, whence he/she has to submit the evidence. Unless the defendant agrees to allegations made by the plaintiff, but disagrees with the relief sought then defendant has the right to begin. The plaintiff has to state his case in front of the judge. The plaintiff has to submit the evidence that was earlier marked. If any evidence was not marked earlier then it will not be considered by the court. The plaintiff will be cross-examined by the defendant's lawyer. The witnesses from plaintiff's side also have to appear in the court, who are also cross-examined by the defendant's lawyer.

Evidence and Cross-Examination of Defendant

The defendant also presents his side of the story supported by the witnesses and evidence from his side. The evidence needs to be be marked earlier by the court, otherwise it will not be considered by the court. The plaintiff's lawyer will then cross-examine the defendant.

Final Argument

Once the evidence has been submitted and cross-examination is conducted by the plaintiff and defendant, both sides are allowed to present a summary of their case and evidence to the judge in the Final argument session.

Judgement/ Decree

After the final arguments, the court may give the judgement on the same day or may adjourn the court for a further date. If the court does not give the judgment immediately, then it tries to give the judgement within 15 days. However, if the judgement is not pronounced within 30 days of final hearing then the court needs to record he reason for doing so. The judgement is dated and signed by the judge, and the copy of judgement is given to both parties. The judgement contains the decisions taken by court on all the issues that were framed by the court in the beginning. The judgement also includes the set-off, menus profits or any other claims to be made to either of the parties.

The party in whose favor the judgement is passed is known as decree holder, and the party against whom the judgement is passed is called the judgement debtor.

Review of judgement

If a party is not satisfied with the judgement, then it can file an application for review of the judgement. If the court feels there are not sufficient grounds for the review, then it may reject the application. The court may also reject the application if it was based on some new evidence unless strict proof is provided that the party was earlier unaware of it. Also, when a application for review is received by the court, it shall send a notice to the other patty in order for him/her to appear and present his side. If the application is granted and a judgement has been passed, it cannot be reviewed further.


A party may appeal in appellate court against the original decree. A memorandum needs to be filed in the appellate court specifying the grounds of objection. The appellant may be required to provide the security for cost. The court may accept, reject, or send back the appeal to the appellant for modifications. If the appellate court finds sufficient cause for stay on the execution of decree, then it may order to do so. If the appellate courts accepts the appeal it shall send a notice to the lower court (whose decree is being appealed) so that it can dispatch the records relevant to the case to the appellate court. The appellate court will send notices for the day of the hearing and will rehear the case. The appellate court may confirm, vary, or reverse the original decree in its judgement.

Execution of Decree

If the judgement-debtor needs to pay money, he can submit it in the court or outside the court as well. If the payment is made outside of the court then an evidence of the payment needs to be produced. When a payment is made then judgement-debtor needs to send an acknowledgement to the decree-holder. If the judgement debtor fails to comply to the decree then the decree holder may file an application for execution of decree. The application needs to be filed in the place of judgement-debtor's residence. The decree holder may request the court to assist him by either delivering the property, arrest or detention of person, or any other relief granted in the decree.

The judgement debtor is issued a notice to show cause against execution. If no satisfactory response is shown for the show cause notice, then the court may issue orders to execute the decree. In case of payment of money, the court may order the detention of judgement-debtor in civil prison or sale of judgement-debtor's property. In issues related to movable property, it may be seized and delivered to the other party.