The Supreme Court ruled that the difficulties faced by a decree holder in execution of a decree continue to remain the same since the 19th century.
Earlier, a default decree was passed due to the nonappearance of the respondent/judgment debtor in UK Court. The appellant issued a winding up notice to the respondent, who objected the same as the judgment was a default decree. To meet the objection raised by the respondent, the appellant approached the English Court and sought setting aside of the default decree and prayed for passing a decree on merits of the case. At this juncture, the respondent entered appearance and the English Court by a judgment and decree granted a money decree.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the appellant contended that the jurisdiction for execution of a foreign Court’s decree of a reciprocating territory vests with the High Court of Delhi, provided the value of the money decree exceeds the pecuniary limits as notified under Section 5(2) of the Act 1966.
Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the respondent, while supporting the finding recorded in the impugned judgment, contended that Section 44A is an independent right conferred on a foreign decree holder for enforcement of its decree in India and the scheme of Section 44A of the Code is alien to the scheme of domestic execution as provided under Section 39(3) of the Code.
The division bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Abhay S. Oka stated that the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Court is always exercised, based on pecuniary limits. It would be impossible to read into Section 44A of the Code that even though the pecuniary jurisdiction of Civil Court is restricted, still for the purpose of execution of a foreign decree, it becomes the District Court in respect to those matters which fall within the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Court and the expression “district” defined under Section 2(4) of the Code will have to be given its true effect.
The court said that it leaves no manner of doubt that once the pecuniary jurisdiction at the given point of time exceeded Rs. 20 lakhs as notified by the High Court under Section 5(2) of the Act 1966, it is the High Court of Delhi which holds its exclusive jurisdiction as ordinary original civil jurisdiction to execute a foreign decree under Section 44A of the Code and it goes without saying that execution always is in continuation of the proceedings.
The court allowed the appeal and quashed and set aside the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court.
The court considered it appropriate to observe that let the Division Bench may take up the matter on priority and decide the same on its own merits as expeditiously as possible keeping in view its long awaiting execution in accordance with law, but in no case later than four months.
Case title: Messer Griesheim GmbH (Now called air Liquide Deutschland GmbH) v/s Goyal MG Gases pvt. ltd.
Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 521 OF 2022