The Supreme Court observed that an Executing Court can only decide questions which are limited to the “execution of the decree” and that it can never go behind the decree.

“All questions between the parties can be decided by the executing court. But the important aspect to remember is that these questions are limited to the “execution of the decree”. The executing court can never go behind the decree. Under Section 47, CPC the executing court cannot examine the validity of the order of the court which had allowed the execution of the decree in 2013, unless the court’s order is itself without jurisdiction." the bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia observed.

The Court allowed a Civil Appeal in a case pertaining to the eviction of tenants which was decreed in favour of the landlord but execution of the decree had been long pending. The Court emphasized that the execution of a decree is a slow and long process and noted that such prolonged delays have been a matter of concern.

Senior Advocate Sudhir Chandra appeared for the Appellants and Senior Advocate Vinay Navare appeared for the Respondents.

In this case, the Landlord filed a suit for eviction, which resulted in a consent decree on June 11, 2005. The decree stated that if the tenants failed to pay rent for two consecutive months, they could be evicted. The tenants defaulted on their rent, and the court allowed the decree-holder to execute the decree. Later, nearly four years after the order, the judgment debtors(tenants) moved an application challenging the order. The executing court disallowed the application, and thus they challenged the order in revision. Their writ petition before the High Court was also dismissed. The Appellate Court and the High Court held that under Section 47 of the CPC, the executing court can decide whether the decree can be executed or not. Aggrieved, the Landlord approached the Apex Court by filing an appeal.

The Court noted that there are multiple stages of a civil suit before reaching its decision and execution of a decree is an altogether different phase. The Court observed that the Appellate, Second Appellate, High, and Revisional Courts do not have the same powers to ensure that any error in law is cured by the subsequent higher court. Similarly, the Executing Court is extremely limited in its powers, and deciding on the execution order itself is beyond the scope of such a Court.

“The multiple stages a civil suit invariably has to go through before it reaches finality is to ensure that any error in law is cured by the higher court. The appellate court, the second appellate court, and the revisional court do not have the same powers, as the powers of the executing court, which are extremely limited”, the Bench observed.

The Court emphasized that civil matters usually take a significant amount of time to be resolved, and the execution of a decree is a separate process that can also be delayed. The Court expressed concern about the prolonged delay that occurred in executing decrees throughout India for many years.

"The reality is that pure civil matters take a long time to be decided, and regretfully it does not end with a decision, as execution of a decree is an entirely new phase in the long life of a civil litigation. The inordinate delay, which is universally caused throughout India in the execution of a decree, has been a cause of concern with this Court for several years”, the Bench noted.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal, set aside the orders of the Appellate and High Court, and affirmed the order of the Executing Court.

Cause Title: Pradeep Mehra v Harijivan J. Jethwa (Thr. LRs.) & Ors. (2023 INSC 958)

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