Meaning and Essentials of suit under Civil Procedure Code

Meaning and Essentials of suit

By Shivangi Kushwah, Amity Law School, Amity University Madhya Pradesh (AUMP)

What is suit?

A suit is a case filed or an action instituted before the court of competent jurisdiction seeking protection of rights in the dispute. A suit is a civil proceeding instituted by the presentation of a plaint[1].

  • Meaning of suit

The term “suit” has not been defined in the Civil Procedure Code, but it is a proceeding which is commenced by presentation of a plaint. In the case of Hansraj Gupta v. Official Liquidators of The Dehra Dun-Mussoorie Electric Tramway Co. Ltd.[2], the expression “suit” ordinarily means a civil proceeding instituted by the presentation of a plaint. A civil suit is the institution of the litigation for enforcement of civil rights.

In Pandurang Ramchandra v. Shantibai Ramchandra[3], the Supreme court has stated, in its comprehensive sense the word “suit” is understood to apply to any proceeding in a court of justice by which an individual pursues that remedy which the law affords. The modes of proceeding may be various but that if a right is litigated between parties in a court of justice the proceeding by which the decision of the court is sought may be a suit.

A suit is a civil action brought in a court of law to address a legal wrong or to uphold a civil right. It is a continuous process from the commencement stage to obtaining the relief demanded in the suit. A ‘suit’ is a proceeding which is commenced by a plaint.

Sections 26 to 35-B and Orders I to XX of the Schedule I of Civil Procedure Code deals with the procedure relating to suits.

Essentials of suit

In Krishnappa v. Shivappa, ILR (1907) 31 Bom 393, the court has held that there are four essentials of a suit: –

(i) Parties to a suit

(ii) Subject matter in dispute

(iii) Cause of action and

(iv) Relief

Parties to suit

There must be at least two parties (two opposing parties) in a suit. The two party consists of a plaintiff (one who claims) and the defendant (against whom the claim is made) in a suit. There may, however, be more than one plaintiff or more than one defendant. All particulars, such as name, father’s name, age, place of residence, etc., which are necessary to identify the parties, must be stated in a plaint.

Subject matter

Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code deals with the jurisdiction of the courts.

Cause of action

A cause of action can be described as “a bundle of essential facts, which is “a bundle of essential facts, which is necessary for the plaintiff to prove before he can succeed[4]“, or “which gives the plaintiff right to relief against the defendant[5]“. Thus, “cause of action” means every fact, which it is necessary to establish to support a right or obtain a judgment[6].

Cause of action has nothing to do with the defence which may be set up by the defendant, nor does it depend upon the character of the relief prayed for by the plaintiff. It refers entirely to the grounds set forth in the plaint as the cause of action, or, in other words, to the media upon which the plaintiff asks the court to arrive at a conclusion in his favour.[7]

In Kuldeep Singh v. Ganpat Lal[8], the Supreme Court stated, “The object underlying Order 7 Rule 1(e), which requires that the plaint shall contain the particulars about the facts constituting the cause of action and when it arose, is to enable the court to find out whether the plaint discloses the cause of action because the plaint is liable to be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC if it does not disclose the cause of action. The purpose behind the requirement that the plaint should indicate when the cause of action arose is to help the court in ascertaining whether the suit is not barred by limitation. Any error on the part of the plaintiff in indicating the date on which the cause of action arose would be of little consequence if the cause of action had arisen on the date on which the suit was filed and the suit was within limitation from the said date. The error in mentioning the date on which the cause of action had arisen in the plaint in such a case would not disentitle the plaintiff from seeking relief from the court in the suit.”


A relief is a legal remedy for a civil wrong. A relief in a suit is claimed by the plaintiff in a civil suit.

Every plaint must state specifically the relief claimed by the plaintiff either simply or in the alternative. Where the relief is founded on separate and distinct grounds, they should be so stated. Where the plaintiff is entitled to more than one relief in respect of the same cause of action, it is open to him to claim all or any of such reliefs[9].

There are two types of relief granted by the court:

  • Specific relief
  • Alternative relief


It can be understood that a suit is a civil action which can be brought when certain essentials regarding it are satisfied and fulfilled. A civil suit comes with a remedy without which a plaintiff cannot bring an action. The subject matter and cause of action are also an essential element without which a suit cannot be instituted. Hence, a civil suit is an important civil proceeding.

[1] Section 26 Civil Procedure Code, 1908

[2] AIR 1933 PC 63

[3] AIR 1989 SC 2240

[4] Ganesh Trading Co. v. Moji Ram, (1978) 2 SCC 91: AIR 1978 SC 484; A.B.C. Laminart (P) Ltd. v. A.P. Agencies, (1989) 2 SCC 163; Bloom Dekor Ltd. v. Subhash Himatlal Desai, (1994) 6 SCC 322 at p. 328; Alchemist Ltd. v. State Bank of Sikkim, (2007) 11 SCC 335: AIR 2007 SC 1812; Laxman Prasad v. Prodigy Electronics Ltd., (2008) 1 SCC 618; Dadu Dayalu Mahasabha, Jaipur (Trust) v. Mahant Ram Niwas, (2008) 11 SCC 753: AIR 2008 SC 2187

[5] Swamy Atmananda v. Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, (2005) 10 SCC 51

[6] Sadanandan v. Madhavan, (1998) 6 SCC 514

[7] Chand Kour v. Partab Singh, (1889) 16 Cal 98 at p. 102

[8] (1996) 1 SCC 243: AIR 1996 SC 729

[9] Lakshmi Ram v. Hari Prasad, (2003) 1 SCC 197: AIR 2003 SC 351.

Author: Shivangi Kushwah,
Amity University Madhya Pradesh/IV year/Law student

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