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The Supreme Court of India on 22nd April 2021 issued directions for the expediating the execution proceedings and their disposal within six months of filing. This bench was compelled to issue directions in this regard after hearing petitions and appeals from a property execution suit that lasted for 14 years. The court dismissed the petition and directed the Executing Court to complete the process within six months lest it shall intervene in the same.

The need for a legislation to expediate the execution proceedings was felt by the bench in appreciation of the fact that there were 11,80,275 execution petitions pending in subordinate courts as on 31st December 2018 and this inordinate delay prevented the decree holders from enjoying the benefits of litigation. It is also for the courts to note that Section 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (“CPC”) is intended to prevent multiplicity of the suits and lays down the procedure for the same. These provisions contemplate that for execution of decrees, Executing Court must not go beyond the decree. “However, there is steady rise of proceedings akin to a re-trial at the time of execution causing failure of realisation of fruits of decree and relief which the party seeks from the courts despite there being a decree in their favour” held the three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India.

In light of the above issues, the bench in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution issued the following directions to be followed by courts dealing with suits and execution proceedings -

  1. In suits relating to delivery of possession, the parties must be examined under Order X in relation to third party interest and under Order XI Rule 14 to disclose documents which are in their possession including declaration pertaining to third party interest in such parties.
  2. In cases where the possession is not in dispute and not a question of fact for adjudication before the Court, the Court may appoint Commissioner to assess the accurate description and status of the property.
  3. After examination of parties under Order X or production of documents under Order XI or receipt of commission report, the Court must add all necessary or proper parties to the suit, so as to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and also make such joinder of cause of action in the same suit.
  4. Under Order XL Rule 1 of CPC, a Court Receiver can be appointed to monitor the status of the property in question as custodia legis for proper adjudication of the matter.
  5. The Court must, before passing the decree, pertaining to delivery of possession of a property ensure that the decree is unambiguous so as to not only contain clear description of the property but also having regard to the status of the property.
  6. In a money suit, the Court must invariably resort to Order XXI Rule 11, ensuring immediate execution of decree for payment of money on oral application.
  7. In a suit for payment of money, before settlement of issues, the defendant may be required to disclose his assets on oath, to the extent that he is being made liable in a suit. The Court may further, at any stage use powers under Section 151 CPC, demand security to ensure satisfaction of any decree.
  8. The Court exercising jurisdiction under Section 47 or under Order XXI of CPC, must not issue notice on an application of third-party claiming rights in a mechanical manner. The courts should also refrain from entertaining petitions that have already been considered during the adjudication of the suit.
  9. The Court should rarely allow taking of evidence during the execution proceedings only in cases where the question of fact could not be decided by resorting to any other expeditious methods.
  10. The Court must in appropriate cases where it finds the objection or resistance or claim to be frivolous or mala fide, resort to Sub-rule (2) of Rule 98 of Order XXI as well as grant compensatory costs in accordance with Section 35A.
  11. Under Section 60 of CPC the term “...in name of the judgment- debtor or by another person in trust for him or on his behalf” should be read liberally to incorporate any other person from whom he may have the ability to derive share, profit or property.
  12. The Executing Court must dispose of the Execution Proceedings within six months from the date of filing, which may be extended only by recording reasons in writing for such delay.
  13. The Executing Court may on satisfaction of the fact that it is not possible to execute the decree without police assistance, direct the concerned Police Station to provide police assistance to such officials who are working towards execution of the decree.
  14. The Judicial Academies must prepare manuals and ensure continuous training through appropriate mediums of the Court personnel/staff executing the warrants, carrying out attachment and sale and any other official duties for executing orders issued by the Executing Courts.

The Apex Court took into consideration the legal complexities, the large number of pendency of execution proceedings and realised the role courts play in passing a clear and unambiguous decree. There was an urgent need to reduce the delays and ensure justice in execution proceedings which led to the present directions that will stay in place and preserve justice until a legislation in this regard is brought into place. The directions are being looked at as a way of ending unnecessary ordeal of litigation faced by parties awaiting fruits of decree and in larger perspective affecting the faith of the litigants in the process of law.