Sec.80 CPC notice does not have to state the section under which it is made so long as the ingredients of sub- section (3) of section 80 are met. – for filing writ /writ appeal ,no sec.80 notice is required. The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act , 1976 the existing Section 80 was renumbered as Section 80(1) and sub- sections (2) and (3) were inserted with effect from 1-2-1977. Sub-section (2) carved out an exception to the mandatory rule that no suit can be filed against the Government or a public officer unless two months’ notice has been served on such Government or public officer. The provision mitigates the rigours of sub- section (1) and empowers the Court to allow a person to institute a suit without serving any notice under sub-section (1) in case it finds that the suit is for the purpose of obtaining an urgent and immediate relief against the Government or a public officer. But, the Court cannot grant relief under the sub-section unless a reasonable opportunity is given to the Government or public officer to show cause in respect of the relief prayed for. The proviso to the said sub-section enjoins that in case the Court is of the opinion that no urgent and immediate relief should be granted, it shall return the plaint for presentation to it after complying with the requirements of sub-section (1). Sub-section (3), though not relevant for the present case, seeks to bring in the rule of substantial compliance and tends to relax the rigour of sub-section (1). On a perusal of the notice dated 14.01.2000, it is clear that this is a legal notice sent by a lawyer of the appellant to the authorities concerned. It is not disputed that it was by registered A.D. and served upon the authorities. There is also no dispute that the cause of action is sufficiently set out in the said notice, which is the illegality of the partial termination of the contract on 16.12.1999. There is no doubt, whatsoever, that more than two months have elapsed from the date of this notice, after which the Suit has been filed . In fact, the Suit was filed long after, on 12.09.2002. Quite apart from this, on 29.01.2000 also, the letter of the appellant made it clear to the Divisional Engineer that not only is the partial termination bad in law but that the payments due for work would have to be made. It is clear, therefore, that there is sufficient compliance with the provisions of Section 80 CPC as has been introduced by the Amendment Act introducing section 80(3) into the Statute book. This is for the reason that a notice does not have to state the section under which it is made so long as the ingredients of sub- section (3) of section 80 are met. It is admitted that there was no need for any legal notice before filing the Writ Appeal . The notice, therefore, that was sent on 14.01.2000, was only under Section 80 CPC in the event the Writ Appeal failed and a Suit would have to be filed. We are, therefore, of the view that the learned Additional District Judge’s judgment was correct. In this view of the matter, we set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and remit the matter to the High Court to dispose of the two appeals on merits. Further, considering this is a Suit of the year 2002, we request the High Court to take up these appeals and dispose of the same at the earliest.

Sec.80 CPC notice does not have to state the section under which it is made so long as the ingredients of sub- section (3) of section 80 are met. – for filing writ /writ appeal ,no sec.80 notice is required.

The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act , 1976 the existing Section 80 was renumbered as Section 80(1) and sub- sections (2) and (3) were inserted with effect from 1-2-1977.

Sub-section (2) carved out an exception to the mandatory rule that no suit can be filed against the Government or a public officer unless two months’ notice has been served on such Government or public officer.

The provision mitigates the rigours of sub- section (1) and empowers the Court to allow a person to institute a suit without serving any notice under sub-section (1) in case it finds that the suit is for the purpose of obtaining an urgent and immediate relief against the Government or a public officer.

But, the Court cannot grant relief under the sub-section unless a reasonable opportunity is given to the Government or public officer to show cause in

respect of the relief prayed for.

The proviso to the said sub-section enjoins that in case the Court is of the opinion that no urgent and immediate relief should be granted, it shall return the plaint for presentation to it after complying with the requirements of sub-section (1).

Sub-section (3), though not relevant for the present case, seeks to

bring in the rule of substantial compliance and tends to relax the rigour of sub-section (1).

On a perusal of the notice dated 14.01.2000, it is clear that this is a legal notice sent by a lawyer of the appellant to the authorities concerned.

It is not disputed that it was by registered A.D. and served upon the authorities.

There is also no dispute that the cause of action is sufficiently set out in the said notice, which is the illegality of the partial termination of the contract on 16.12.1999.

There is no doubt, whatsoever, that more than two months have elapsed from the date of this notice, after which the Suit has been filed .

In fact, the Suit was filed long after, on 12.09.2002. Quite apart from this, on 29.01.2000 also, the letter of the appellant made it clear to the Divisional Engineer that not only is the partial termination bad in law but that the payments due for work would have to be made.

It is clear, therefore, that there is sufficient compliance with the provisions of Section 80 CPC as has been introduced by the Amendment Act introducing section 80(3)

into the Statute book.

This is for the reason that a notice does not have to state the section under which it is made so long as the ingredients of sub- section (3) of section 80 are met.

It is admitted that there was no need for any legal notice before filing the Writ Appeal .

The notice, therefore, that was sent on 14.01.2000, was only under Section 80 CPC in the event the Writ Appeal failed and a Suit would have to be filed.

We are, therefore, of the view that the learned Additional District Judge’s judgment was correct. In this view of the matter, we set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and remit the matter to the High Court to dispose of the two appeals on merits. Further, considering this is a Suit of the year 2002, we request the High Court to take up these appeals and dispose of the same at the earliest.

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

(Arising out of SLP (C)Nos. 30945-30946 of 2015)

Y. SAVARIMUTHU Appellant(s)

VERSUS

STATE OF TAMIL NADU & ORS. Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

R. F. NARIMAN, J.

Leave granted.

The present appeals relate to whether a notice under

Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) has been

given to the State of Tamil Nadu in terms of the Section or

in substantial compliance thereof .

The appellant is a Government Contractor who has

executed various works in the National Highways, P.W.D. and

Electricity Board. On 15.10.1997, the appellant and

respondent No.2 entered into an agreement for strengthening

the existing two-lane pavement of NH7 from a particular

kilometer point from Madurai to Kanyakumari. As per the

agreement, the work ought to have been completed in 18

months. The site was handed over to the appellant on

20.10.1997, but, in the course of the progress of work, the

appellant stated that due to delay caused by the

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

respondents, he was not able to progress and complete the

work in time. The immediate reason why the appellant had to

knock at the doors of the High Court was an order dated

16.12.1999 passed by the Superintending Engineer partially

terminating the contract on the ground that the plaintiff-

appellant has not shown sufficient progress in the execution

of the said work. The plaintiff-appellant first filed a

Writ Petition before the Madras High Court, which, by a

judgment dated 24.12.1999, rejected the Writ Petition,

stating that an adequate alternative remedy existed in terms

of filing of a Civil Suit. This was appealed against by the

appellant, which appeal substantially met the same fate by

the order dated 10.07.2000, by which the Writ Appeal was

dismissed, and it was stated that an adequate alternative

remedy existed by way of arbitration.

In between the learned Single Judge�s judgment and the

Division Bench judgment dismissing the Writ Appeal, the

appellant sent a legal notice dated 14.01.2000 in which the

appellant made it clear that he had completed the work to

the extent of Rs.1,25,00,000/- in spite of delay in

approving the pre-level work and fitness of the plant. He

also mentioned that the original period of 18 months was

extended up to 30.03.2000 for the reason that there was

delay on the part of the Department. Despite this, an order

of 16.12.1999 was made even before the said extension came

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

to an end, by which the contract was partially terminated.

It was for this reason that he stated that it was necessary

for him to have gone to the High Court by way of a Writ

Petition. It is further stated that the Writ Petition was

dismissed on 24.12.1999 and that the appellant had decided

to file a Writ Appeal against the said order. Despite this,

however, the appellant made it clear that the part-

termination, even before the expiry of the extended time, is

arbitrary and equally arbitrary is the fresh tender that had

been called for without issuing any notice to the appellant

for which he would take �appropriate legal actions� as

available in law, holding the State liable for all costs and

consequences. This legal notice was followed by two other

letters, one dated 25.01.2000, and the other dated

29.01.2000. The letter dated 29.01.2000 went on to state

that he is challenging the partial termination of the

contract and enclosing a list of payments due for the work,

which, at that point of time, amounted to a sum of Rs.88.06

lakhs.

Since the Writ Appeal had also been dismissed and

since the remedy of arbitration could not be availed of as

claims of above Rs.2 lakhs were not arbitrable, but ought to

be decided in a Civil Suit, the appellant filed O.S. No.

2/2002 on 12.09.2002 in the Court of the Special Judge at

Virudhunagar. After setting out the fact that the partial

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

termination was bad in law, the appellant prayed for a

declaration that the partial termination order dated

16.12.1999 is illegal and void and that a sum of Rs.3.30

crores with interest of 15 per cent per annum be granted to

him as these were the amounts owing to him by the State.

The learned Additional District Judge by his judgment

dated 29.06.2007 found that there was substantial compliance

of section 80 CPC, given the fact that the notice dated

14.01.2000 was clearly sent to the three authorities in

question and served on them. Further, the cause of action

and reliefs claimed were also substantially set out both in

the notice as well as in the letter dated 29.01.2000 already

referred to hereinabove.

After citing case law, the learned Additional District

Judge found that there was a substantial compliance with the

provisions of section 80 CPC. On merits, ultimately, the

appellant was awarded a sum of Rs.87,01,200/- together with

interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum.

Being dissatisfied with the judgment of the learned

Additional District Judge, both the appellant as well as the

State filed appeals. These appeals were disposed of by the

High Court in which the High Court found that the provision

of Section 80 CPC was mandatory and that �full particulars�

as mentioned by the said provision was not given in the so-

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

called notice s that were sent under section 80, and,

therefore, allowed the appeal of the State on the

preliminary ground itself and stated that the Suit as filed

would not be maintainable as it was filed without complying

with the provisions of section 80 CPC.

Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant

has submitted, based on the legal notice together with the

letters sent by the appellant, that substantial compliance

with section 80 CPC has been made in the present case as was

correctly found by the learned Additional District Judge.

The High Court went in error in not adverting to substantial

compliance of Section 80 but acted as if section 80 was a

rigid provision which, like the Laws of the Medes and

Persians, could not be bent at all. He cited certain

judgments to show that, by the 1976 amendment to the Code of

Civil Procedure, section 80(3) was added making it clear

that so long as the State was put on notice and properly

served, and so long as the cause of action and the prayer in

the Suit was substantially communicated, this must be held

to be sufficient compliance with the provision.

On the other hand, learned counsel appearing on behalf

of the State has argued before us that it is clear that

there was no notice at all issued under Section 80 CPC for

the reason that none of the three notices/letters relied

upon by the appellant had stated that they were under

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

Section 80 CPC. He has also argued that these notices were

issued prior to the disposal of the Writ Appeal which was

still pending, as a result of which, the object of giving a

notice, that is for the Government to settle the claim,

could not have taken place as it is well-known that the

Government can never settle claims which are sub-judice . He

has also argued that none of the notices were issued after

the Writ Appeal was dismissed, which alone could have

qualified as notices, if at all, before filing the present

Suit. He has also buttressed his submissions with reference

to certain decisions of this Court.

Section 80 CPC is set out as follows:

�80.Notice.-

(1) Save as otherwise provided in sub-section (2), no

suits shall be instituted against the

Government(including the Government of the State of

Jammu & Kashmir) or against a public officer in respect

of any act purporting to be done by such officer in his

official capacity, until the expiration of two months

next after notice in writing has been delivered to, or

left at the office of-

(a) in the case of a suit against the Central

Government, except where it relates to a railway, a

Secretary to that Government;

(b) in the case of a suit against the Central Government

where it relates to railway, the General Manager of that

railway;

(bb) in the case of a suit against the Government of the

State of Jammu and Kashmir the Chief Secretary to that

Government or any other officer authorised by that

Government in this behalf;

(c) in the case of a suit against any other State

Government, a Secretary to that Government or the

Collector of the district;

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

and, in the case of a public officer, delivered to him

or left at this office, stating the cause of action, the

name, description and place of residence of the

plaintiff and the relief which he claims; and the plaint

shall contain a statement that such notice has been so

delivered or left.�

(2) A suit to obtain an urgent or immediate relief

agianst the Government (including the Government of the

State of Jammu & Kashmir) or any public officer in

respect of any act purporting to be done by such public

officer in his official capacity, may be instituted,

with the leave of the Court, without serving any notice

as required by sub-section (1); but the Court shall not

grant relief in the suit, whether interim or otherwise,

except after giving to the Government or public officer,

as the caes may be, a resaonable opportunity of showing

cause in respect of the relief prayed for in the suit:

Provided that the Court shall, if it is satisfied, after

heairng the parties, that no urgent or immediate relief

need be granted in the suit, return the plaint for

presentation to it after complying with the requirements

of sub-section (1).

(3) No suit instituted agianst the Government or against

a public officer in respect of any act purporting to be

done by such public officer in his official capacity

shall be dismissed merely by reason of any error or

defect in the notice referred to in sub-section (1), if

in such notice-

(a) the name, description and the residence of the

plaintiff had been so given as to enable the appropriate

authority or the public officer to identify the person

serving the notice and such notice had been delivered or

left at the office of the appropriate authority

specified in sub-section (1), and

(b) the cause of action and the relief claimed by the

plaintiff had been substantially indicated.�

Even at a time when Section 80(3) was not available,

this Court in Dhian Singh Sobha Singh & Another v. Union of

India, (1958) SCR 781 made it clear that Section 80, which

must be strictly complied with, cannot be construed in a

7

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

pedantic manner completely divorced from common sense.

�We are constrained to observe that the

approach of the High Court to this question was not

well founded. The Privy Council no doubt laid down

in Bhagchand Dagadusa v. Secretary of State [(1927)

L.R.54 I.A. 338] that the terms of this section

should be strictly complied with. That does not

however mean that the terms of the notice should be

scrutinized in a pedantic manner or in a manner

completely divorced from common sense. As was stated

by Pollock C. B. in Jones v. Nicholls [(1844) 13

M.&W. 361, 363; 153 E.R. 149, 150] “We must import a

little common sense into notices of this kind.”

Beaumont C.J. also observed in Chandu Lal Vadilal v.

Government of Bombay [I.L.R. [1943] Bom.128] : “One

must construe section 80 with some regard to common

sense and to the object with which it appears to

have been passed………..” If the terms of the

notice in question be scrutinized in this manner it

is abundantly clear that the relief claimed by the

appellant was the re-delivery of the said two trucks

or in the alternative payment of Rs.3,500 being the

value thereof. The value which was placed by the

appellants on the trucks was the then value

according to them – a value as on August 1, 1942,

the date on which the delivery of the trucks ought

to have been given by the respondent to the

appellants. The appellants could only have demanded

that sum as on the date of that notice. They could

not sensibly enough have demanded any other sum. If

the respondent had complied with the terms of that

notice then and there and re-delivered the trucks to

the appellant, nothing further needed to be done. If

on the other hand instead of re-delivering the

trucks it paid to the appellant the value thereof

then also it need not have paid anything more than

Rs.3,500 to the appellant, on that alternative. If,

however, the respondent failed and neglected to

comply with the requisitions contained in that

notice the appellants would certainly be entitled to

recover from the respondent the value of the said

trucks in the alternative on the failure of the

respondent to re-deliver the same to the appellants

in accordance with the terms of the decree

ultimately passed by the Court in their favour. That

date could certainly not be foreseen by the

appellants and it is contrary to all reason and

common sense to expect the appellants to have made a

claim for the alternative value of the said two

trucks as of that date. The respondent was and ought

8

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

to have been well aware of the situation as it would

develop as a result of its non-compliance with the

terms of that notice and if on January 8, 1943, the

appellants in the suit which they filed for wrongful

detention of the said trucks claimed re-delivery of

the said trucks or in the alternative Rs.3,500 as

their value and reserved their right to claim the

further appreciation in the value of the trucks by

reason of the rise in prices thereof up to the date

of the decree by paying additional court-fee in that

behalf, it could not be laid at their door that they

had not made the specific demand in their notice to

the respondent under s.80 of the Code of Civil

Procedure and that therefore their claim to recover

anything beyond Rs.3,500 was barred under that

section. A common sense reading of the notice under

s.80 would lead any Court to the conclusion that the

strict requirements of that section had been

complied with and that there was no defect in the

same such as to disentitle the appellants from

recovering from the respondent the appreciated value

of the said two trucks as at the date of the

judgment. It is relevant to note that neither was

this point taken by the respondent in the written

statement which it filed in answer to the

appellants’ claim nor was any issue framed in that

behalf by the Trial Court and this may justify the

inference that the objection under s.80 h ad been

waived. The point appears to have been taken for the

first time before the High Court which negatived the

claim of the appellants for the appreciated value of

the said trucks.

In Vithalbhai (P) Ltd. v. Union Bank of India, ( 2005)

4 SCC 315, this Court, in paragraph 10, cited certain

judgments which made it clear that the object of the said

Section is the advancement of justice and the securing of

public good by avoidance of unnecessary litigation.

10.Under Section 80 CPC no suit shall be instituted

against the Government or a public officer until the

expiration of two months next after service of notice

in writing in the manner set out in the provision and

if filed before the expiry of said period, the suit

is not maintainable because there is clearly a public

purpose underlying the provision. The object of the

9

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

section is the advancement of justice and the

securing of public good by avoidance of unnecessary

litigation ( See Bihari Chowdhary v. State of Bihar

(1984) 2 SCC 627 ). In Butchiraju (Vaddadi) v. Doddi

Seetharamayya (AIR 1926 Mad 377) the suit was for a

sum of money which had not become payable on the date

of the suit but became payable since. Viswanatha

Sastri, J. (as His Lordship then was) held that the

Court could pass a decree for the recovery of money.

Reliance was placed on a Full Bench decision in A.T.

Raghava Chariar v. O.M. Srinivasa Raghava Chariar

(ILR (1917) 40 Mad 308) and a few other cases. Here,

in all fairness, it may be mentioned that in Rangayya

Naidu (Mylavarapu) v. Basana Simon (AIR 1926 Mad

594) , Spencer, J. has held that if a suit is

premature at the date of institution, though not at

the date of decision, a decree cannot be granted and

the only course in such cases is to dismiss the suit

with liberty to bring a fresh suit upon a proper

cause of action. It is pertinent to note that

Butchiraju case was decided on 5-10-1925 while

Rangayya Naidu case was decided on 7-10-1925 but the

former decision though of a prior date was not

brought to the notice of the Court deciding the

latter case.

In Ghanshyam Dass and Others v. Dominion of India and

Others, ( 1984) 3 SCC 46, this Court went into the amendment

made by the Law Commission and stated:

  1. Section 80 of the Code is but a part of the

Procedure Code passed to provide the regulation and

machinery, by means of which the courts may do

justice between the parties. It is therefore merely

a part of the adjective law and deals with procedure

alone and must be interpreted in a manner so as to

subserve and advance the cause of justice rather than

to defeat it. In Sangram Singh v. Election Tribunal,

Kotah (1955) 2 SCR 1 Vivian Bose, J. in his

illuminating language dealing with the Code of Civil

Procedure said :

It is procedure, something designed to

facilitate justice and further its ends: not a

penal enactment for punishment and penalties; not

a thing designed to trip people up. Too

technical a construction of sections that leaves

no room for reasonable elasticity of

interpretation should therefore be guarded

10

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

against (provided always that justice is done to

both sides) lest the very means designed for the

furtherance of justice be used to frustrate it.

  1. Our laws of procedure are based on the principle

that as far as possible, no proceeding in a court of

law should be allowed to be defeated on mere

technicalities. Here, all the requirements of

Section 80 of the Code were fulfilled. Before the

suit was brought, the Dominion of India received a

notice of claim from Seth Lachman Dass. The whole

object of serving a notice under Section 80 is to

give the Government sufficient warning of the case

which is going to be instituted against it ( sic so)

that the Government, if it so wished, ( sic can)

settle the claim without litigation or afford

restitution without recourse to a court of law. That

requirement of Section 80 was clearly fulfilled in

the facts and circumstances of the present case.

  1. It is a matter of common experience that in a

large majority of cases the Government or the public

officer concerned make no use of the opportunity

afforded by the section. In most cases the notice

given under Section 80 remains unanswered till the

expiration of two months provided by the section. It

is also clear that in a large number of cases, as

here, the Government or the public officer utilised

the section merely to raise technical defences

contending either that no notice had been given or

that the notice actually given did not comply with

the requirements of the section. It is unfortunate

that the defendants came forward with a technical

plea that the suit was not maintainable at the

instance of the plaintiffs, the legal heirs of Seth

Lachman Dass, on the ground that no fresh notice had

been given by them. This was obviously a technical

plea calculated to defeat the just claim.

Unfortunately, the technical plea so raised prevailed

with the High Court with the result that the

plaintiffs have been deprived of their legitimate

dues for the last 35 years.

  1. The Law Commission in the Fourteenth Report,

Volume 1 on the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 at p.

475 made a recommendation that Section 80 of the Code

should be deleted. It was stated as follows:

The evidence disclosed that in a large

majority of cases, the Government or the public

officer made no use of the opportunity afforded

11

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

by the section. In most cases the notice given

under Section 80 remained unanswered till the

expiry of the period of two months provided by

the section. It was also clear that in a large

number of cases, governments and public offices

utilised the section merely to raise technical

defences contending either that no notice had

been given or that the notice actually given did

not comply with the requirements of the section.

These technical defences appeared to have

succeeded in a number of cases defeating the just

claims of the citizens.

  1. The Law Commission in the Twenty-Seventh Report

on the Code at pp.21-22 reiterated its earlier

recommendation for deletion of Section 80 and in the

Fifty-Fourth Report at p.56 fully concurred with the

recommendation made earlier. In conformity with the

recommendation of the Law Commission, Section 80 has

undergone substantial changes. By Section 27 of the

Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1976 which

was brought into effect from February 1, 1977, the

existing Section 80 has been renumbered as Section

80(1) and sub-sections(2) and (3) have been inserted.

Sub-section (2) as inserted has been designed to give

an urgent and immediate relief against the Government

or the public officer with the leave of the court.

But the court shall not grant relief in the suit,

whether interim or otherwise, except after giving to

the Government or public officer, as the case may be,

a reasonable opportunity of showing cause in respect

of the relief prayed for in the suit. Proviso to

sub-section (2) enjoins that the court shall, if it

is satisfied, after hearing the parties that no

urgent or immediate relief need be granted in the

suit, return the plaint for presentation to it after

complying with the requirements of sub-section (1).

xxx xxx xxx

  1. By sub-section (3), Parliament has brought in the

rule of substantial compliance. The present suit

would be directly covered by sub-section (3) of

Section 80 so introduced if the suit had been brought

after February 1, 1977. Unfortunately for the

plaintiffs, Section 97 of the Amendment Act provides

that the amendment shall not apply to pending suits

and the suits pending on February 1, 1977 have to be

dealt with as if such amendment had not been made.

Nevertheless the courts must have due regard to the

change in law brought about by sub-section (3) of

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

Section 80 of the Code introduced by the Amendment

Act w.e.f. February 1, 1977. Such a change has a

legislative acceptance of the rule of substantial

compliance laid down by this Court in Dhian Singh

Sobha Singh (1958) SCR 781 and Raghunath Dass (1969)

1 SCR 450. As observed in Dhian Singh Sobha Singh

case , one must construe Section 80 with some regard

to common sense and to the object with which it

appears to have been enacted. The decision in S.N.

Dutt v. Union of India case (1962) 1 SCR 560 , does

not accord with the view expressed by us and is

therefore overruled.

In another recent judgment in State of A.P. and Others

v. Pioneer Builders, A.P., ( 2006) 12 SCC 119, this Court

again referred to the Law Commission Report and held as

follows:

  1. From a bare reading of sub-section (1) of

Section 80 , it is plain that subject to what is

provided in sub-section (2) thereof, no suit can be

filed against the Government or a public officer

unless requisite notice under the said provision has

been served on such Government or public officer, as

the case may be. It is well-settled that before the

amendment of Section 80 the provisions of unamended

Section 80 admitted of no implications and exceptions

whatsoever and are express, explicit and mandatory.

The Section imposes a statutory and unqualified

obligation upon the Court and in the absence of

compliance with Section 80 , the suit is not

maintainable. (See: Bhagchand Dagadusa v. Secretary

of State for India in Council AIR 1927 P.C. 176 ;

Sawai Singhai Nirmal Chand v. Union of India (1966) 1

SCR 986 and Bihari Chowdhary v. State of Bihar (1984)

2 SCC 627 ). The service of notice under Section 80

is, thus, a condition precedent for the institution

of a suit against the Government or a public officer.

The legislative intent of the Section is to give the

Government sufficient notice of the suit, which is

proposed to be filed against it so that it may

reconsider the decision and decide for itself whether

the claim made could be accepted or not. As observed

in Bihari Chowdhary , the object of the Section is the

advancement of justice and the securing of public

good by avoidance of unnecessary litigation.

  1. It seems that the provision did not achieve the

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

desired results inasmuch as it is a matter of common

experience that hardly any matter is settled by the

Government or the public officer concerned by making

use of the opportunity afforded by said provisions.

In most of the cases, notice given under Section 80

remains unanswered. In its 14th report (reiterated in

the 27th and 54th Reports), the Law Commission, while

noting that the provisions of this section had worked

a great hardship in a large number of cases where

immediate relief by way of injunction against the

Government or a public officer was necessary in the

interests of justice, had recommended omission of the

Section. However, the Joint Committee of Parliament,

to which the Amendment Bill 1974 was referred, did

not agree with the Law Commission and recommended

retention of Section 80 with necessary

modifications/relaxations.

  1. Thus, in conformity therewith, by the Code of

Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act , 1976 the existing

Section 80 was renumbered as Section 80(1) and sub-

sections (2) and (3) were inserted with effect from

1-2-1977. Sub-section (2) carved out an exception to

the mandatory rule that no suit can be filed against

the Government or a public officer unless two months’

notice has been served on such Government or public

officer. The provision mitigates the rigours of sub-

section (1) and empowers the Court to allow a person

to institute a suit without serving any notice under

sub-section (1) in case it finds that the suit is for

the purpose of obtaining an urgent and immediate

relief against the Government or a public officer.

But, the Court cannot grant relief under the sub-

section unless a reasonable opportunity is given to

the Government or public officer to show cause in

respect of the relief prayed for. The proviso to the

said sub-section enjoins that in case the Court is of

the opinion that no urgent and immediate relief

should be granted, it shall return the plaint for

presentation to it after complying with the

requirements of sub-section (1). Sub-section (3),

though not relevant for the present case, seeks to

bring in the rule of substantial compliance and tends

to relax the rigour of sub-section (1).

On a perusal of the notice dated 14.01.2000, it is

clear that this is a legal notice sent by a lawyer of the

appellant to the authorities concerned. It is not disputed

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

that it was by registered A.D. and served upon the

authorities. There is also no dispute that the cause of

action is sufficiently set out in the said notice, which is

the illegality of the partial termination of the contract on

16.12.1999. It was also made clear that though a Writ

Appeal at that point of time was going to be filed against

the Writ Petition dismissal, yet this would be a notice to

take appropriate legal action against the State. There is

no doubt, whatsoever, that more than two months have elapsed

from the date of this notice, after which the Suit has been

filed . In fact, the Suit was filed long after, on

12.09.2002. Quite apart from this, on 29.01.2000 also, the

letter of the appellant made it clear to the Divisional

Engineer that not only is the partial termination bad in law

but that the payments due for work would have to be made.

It is clear, therefore, that there is sufficient

compliance with the provisions of Section 80 CPC as has been

introduced by the Amendment Act introducing section 80(3)

into the Statute book. The respondents argument that

section 80 is not expressly referred to and that the legal

notice and letters were written prior to the disposal of the

Writ Appeal have no legs to stand on. This is for the

reason that a notice does not have to state the section

under which it is made so long as the ingredients of sub-

section (3) of section 80 are met. It is admitted that

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

there was no need for any legal notice before filing the

Writ Appeal . The notice, therefore, that was sent on

14.01.2000, was only under Section 80 CPC in the event the

Writ Appeal failed and a Suit would have to be filed.

We are, therefore, of the view that the learned

Additional District Judge’s judgment was correct. In this

view of the matter, we set aside the impugned judgment of

the High Court and remit the matter to the High Court to

dispose of the two appeals on merits. Further, considering

this is a Suit of the year 2002, we request the High Court

to take up these appeals and dispose of the same at the

earliest.

The appeals stand disposed of accordingly.

………………………………………………………………………….., J.

[ ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN ]

……………………………………………………………………………, J.

[ VINEET SARAN ]

New Delhi;

April 30, 2019.

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CIVIL APPEAL NOS.4495-4496 OF 2019

ITEM NO.4 COURT NO.5 SECTION XII

           S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A

                   RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Civil Appeal Nos. 4495-4496/2019

(Arising out of SLP (C)Nos. 30945-30946/2015)

Y. SAVARIMUTHU Appellant(s)

VERSUS

STATE OF TAMIL NADU & ORS. Respondent(s)

Date : 30-04-2019 These appeals were called on for hearing today.

CORAM :

     HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN

     HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE VINEET SARAN

For Appellant(s)

                Mr. M. A. Chinnasamy, AOR

For Respondent(s)

                Mr. Vijay Kumar, AOR



      UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following

                         O R D E R

Leave granted.

The appeals stand disposed of in terms of the signed

reportable judgment.

Pending applications stand disposed of.

(NIDHI AHUJA) (RENU DIWAN)

COURT MASTER (SH) ASSISTANT REGISTRAR

[Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file.]

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