Mentioned in Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, it is mandatory to serve notice to the government or the public officers if any act done by the officer in the capacity of his office has caused a loss of any kind to the plaintiff.
By: Nishtha Srivastava, 4th year BBA LLB specialisation in Corporate Laws, UPES, Dehradun.
The legal framework of our country provides us the right to sue any individual or group of individuals in case the legal rights of the former have been violated.
Generally, in case of an institution of any legal proceedings against any individual or private parties to claim relief from any mishap caused to the former, the law doesn’t mandate to give notice to the other party. However, the scenario changes as soon as anybody looks forward to instituting a suit against the government or any public officer who commits any act in the capacity of his public office.
Section 80 of CPC provides 2 months to respond to the notice served to the government or public officer who has acted prejudicially to the interest of the plaintiff in the capacity of his public office. Thus, through this section, an attempt has been made by the legislature to amicably settle the matter in issue instead of knocking the door of the Court. Moreover, it saves them time, resources, and money which would be wasted by the plaintiff as well as the authorities in the institution of the suit.
Section 80(1) of CPC enlists the offices wherein the notice has to be given in writing and delivered to or left at as per the category they belong to:
a) If the suit is against the Central Government: office of the Secretary to that Government except if the case is against railways.
b) If the suit is against the Central Government relates to a railway: office of the General Manager of that railway;
c) If the suit is against the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir: office of the Chief Secretary to that Government or any other officer authorised by that Government in this behalf;
d) If the suit is against any other State Government: office of a Secretary to that Government or the Collector of the district;
e) In the case of a public officer, delivered to him or left at his office, stating the cause of action, the name, description, and place of residence of the plaintiff and the relief which he claims.
In Bihari Chowdhary v. State of Bihar[i], Supreme Court has stated that “The object of the section is the advancement of justice and the securing of public good by avoidance of unnecessary litigation”.
To constitute notices under section 80 CPC, the following things must be adhered to:
I. name, description, and place of residence of the person giving notice;
II. a statement of the cause of action; and
III. the relief claimed by him.
IV. Summary of the legal basis for the relief claimed
In the case of State of A.P. v. Gundugola Venkata[ii], certain requirements were laid down which need to be looked upon by the Court to check the whether the notice contains essential requirements or not which are as follows:
- Whether the details relating to name, description, and residence of the plaintiff have been given in such a manner to provide the authority the identification of the person giving the notice?
- Whether the cause of action and the relief claimed by the plaintiff has been put out in the notice as per the essential particulars?
- If the mode of delivery of written notice has been by actual delivery or left at the office of the appropriate authority mentioned in the section? and
- Whether the suit has been instituted after the expiration of two months after the service of notice and a statement stating that the notice has been so delivered or left is contained in the plaint?
A notice under this section is specifically sent to bring to the information of the government or public official against whom the suit has to be filed about the alleged act committed by it which has caused wrongful loss to the plaintiff.
Though the Code doesn’t prescribe any particular form in which the notice under section 80 should be served, certain things must be kept in mind while drafting the same.
Writing the letterhead– It consists of the names, addresses, and contact details of the person who is serving the notice/ advocate and to whom the notice has to be served. It should be specific and clear to reach the concerned authority or officer to commence the notice within time.
The first paragraph shall contain the name and address of the plaintiff apprising the service of the notice under section 80 of CPC,1908.
Followed by a paragraph containing the details of the cause of action that has led to such circumstances.
The last paragraph shall consist of the relief claimed and a specified time period generally a period of 15 to 30 days which is given to the defendants to reply to the same. Also, the future set of actions that shall be taken by the petitioner in case of dishonour of notice is also to be mentioned in this paragraph itself.
Signature– The notice has to be finally signed by the plaintiff if he himself drafts the notice. However, if an advocate drafts the notice, it should contain his signature followed by the signature of the client. This will work as an estoppel against the plaintiff in case he denies supplying the details mentioned in the notice.
Mode of Service
A notice must be delivered or left at the office of the appropriate authority as per section 80 CPC.
However, it can also be personally delivered at the office of such authority to make the latter sign the acknowledgment of receiving it.
It is usually sent through registered A.D. or courier because it ensures that the acknowledgment is retained.
Moreover, there shall be 2 copies kept by the petitioner, one for himself and one for the advocate if the latter has been consulted for the drafting of the notice.
With the amendment of 1976, even the presence of technical defects in the notice doesn’t make it invalid which ensures that justice is delivered to the aggrieved party at all times[iv].
There is no doubt that the provision of serving notice to the government or public officer for any act done purportedly to be done by him in his official capacity before the institution of the suit against them, is a very useful step for both the plaintiff and the authorities. However, the practice of avoiding this notice has now become a ritual for these authorities, which makes the very existence of this provision questionable. Nevertheless, it is advisable to take help from an advocate for the drafting of such notice to be well written with legal intricacies.
[i] AIR 1984 SC 1043
[ii] AIR 1965 SC 11
[iii] NOTICE OF SUIT UNDER SECTION 80, CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE (Sept 19, 2020, 06:43 PM), http://www.aadisol.in/aca/sa/forms/2332.pdf
[iv] Section 80, Civil Procedure Code, 1908.