Title: Understanding Legal Provisions under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908: The Power and Limitations of Foreign States to Sue and Be Sued
In the realm of civil litigation, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), is a fundamental text outlining the procedural and substantive law pertaining to civil disputes. It caters to the framework that the Indian courts must follow in litigating civil cases. One of its most critical, yet complex areas of concern is Section 86, which addresses the power and limitations of foreign states to sue and be sued.
Power of Foreign States under Section 86 of the CPC:
Section 86(1) stipulates that a foreign state cannot be sued in any Indian court other than the consent of the central government, certifying that the foreign state has subjected itself to the jurisdiction of that court. In essence, this provision grants a degree of immunity to foreign states from civil proceedings, preserving their sovereignty and dignity on an international platform. It however doesn’t preclude foreign states from initiating litigation.
The case of Mirza Ali Akbar Kashani vs United Arab Republic (AIR 1966 SC 230) serves as a beacon in this context. The Supreme Court, in this case, held that dismissal of a suit against a foreign state due to lack of consent from the central government under section 86(1) does not constitute a decree. This exemplary judgment attests to the significance and necessity of upholding foreign state immunity.
Limitations of Foreign States under Section 86 of the CPC:
The section carves out exceptions where such consent would not be necessary. For instance, suits relating to commercial transactions by foreign states, or suits arising out of contracts personally entered into by a foreign sovereign not acting in their public capacity would not necessitate such consent.
Further, Section 86(2) provides that a foreign state may sue in any competent court. This decision to engage in litigation reflects a voluntary submission of the foreign state to the court’s jurisdiction, and hence, the principle of sovereign immunity would not apply.
The complexity surrounding Section 86 was further highlighted in the case of Ethiopian Airlines vs Ganesh Narain Saboo (2011). Here, the Supreme Court held that such suits initiated by foreign states do not constitute an implied waiver of immunity for counterclaims unless there is an explicit agreement or legislation stating otherwise.
Limitations of the Central Government’s Permission:
The permission granted by the Central Government is not unconditional and may come attached with conditions and restrictions. In the case of Veb Deutfracht Seereederei Rostock v/s New Central Jute Mills Co. Ltd & Anr (AIR 1993 SC 2529), the Supreme Court held that conditions imposed by the Central Government under Section 86(3) are a valid exercise of statutory powers.
In conclusion, understanding the power and limitations of foreign states to sue and be sued under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, offers intriguing insights into how India navigates the balance between respecting foreign sovereignty and upholding accountability in civil cases. The nuanced interpretation of Section 86 outlines a procedural framework that is essential to comprehend in an era where international interactions are not just limited to diplomacy but extensive to legal disputes.