Case: – Asma Lateef & Anr. Vs Shabbir Ahmad & Ors.; Civil Appeal No. 9695 of 2013
In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court of India has underscored the significance of establishing prima facie satisfaction on the maintainability of a civil suit before deciding on the grant of interim relief. The essence of the judgment revolves around the premise that when the maintainability of a civil suit is questioned, and opposition to the grant of interim relief is raised on such grounds, the trial court must, as a prelude to any relief, ascertain and record a prima facie satisfaction regarding the suit’s maintainability.
The ruling expounds that if a party, directly affected by the proposed interim relief or any other party involved in the suit, contends that the suit is not maintainable or is barred by law, the court should not abstain from forming a prima facie opinion on the matter. The bench emphasized that proceeding with the grant of interim relief without establishing such satisfaction could constitute an improper exercise of judicial power.
The judgment particularly highlights the need for the court to refrain from assuming that the question of maintainability will be addressed as a preliminary issue under Rule 2 of Order XIV of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). Instead, it advocates for a proactive approach, urging the court to record its preliminary satisfaction on the maintainability issue before contemplating any interim relief.
The Supreme Court clarified that if, during the hearing of an application for interim relief, the court believes that the suit is barred by law or is otherwise not maintainable, it should not summarily dismiss the suit. Instead, it is required to frame a preliminary issue after the written statement is filed but may convey its opinion on maintainability while refusing interim relief.
However, the judgment recognizes exceptional circumstances where a decision on maintainability could cause undue delays, potentially resulting in irreparable harm. In such cases, the court has the discretion to pass an appropriate order after providing sound reasons for its decision. The Court further clarified that such orders, if deemed necessary, are justified to prevent irreparable harm, injury, or undue hardship to the party seeking relief and to ensure that the legal proceedings are not rendered futile due to the court’s non-interference.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s directive establishes a procedural framework emphasizing the importance of a prima facie satisfaction on the maintainability of a civil suit before the grant of interim relief.

Author of this article:
Adv. Ravish Bhatt,
Partner, R&D Law Chambers,
Dual Qualified Lawyer Solicitor | International Tax Affiliate

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