An introduction to Suit by or Against Government: Section 79, CPC

Deergh Uppal

The definition of suits brought by or against the government is described in this section: Whenever a lawsuit is brought against the government or by the government, the plaintiff and defendant will be called as follows:

  • The Union of India will be represented as the appropriate plaintiff or defendant if a case is brought by or against the central government.
  • The state government would be allowed to serve as the plaintiff or defendant in any suit brought by or against the state government.


For a better understanding of Section 79 of the Civil Procedure Code, it is appropriate to further fragment the Section into various subtopics, such as Section 79’s jurisdiction and the establishment of suits against railways, which will be addressed in the next section of this article.

Section 79 specifies the process for bringing suits against or by the government, but it does not address the rights and obligations enforceable by or against the government entity.

In the case of Jehangir v. Secretary of State, it was pointed out that this section does not include a cause of action, but rather declares the procedure to be followed when the cause of action occurs.


Only the court in whose local limits the cause of action has occurred and have jurisdiction to prosecute the case under Section 79; otherwise, it cannot.

In Dominion of India v. RCKC Nath & Co., it was determined that terms like “dwell,” “reside,” and “carry on business” found in Sections 18, 19, and 20 of the Code do not apply to the government.


If the railway is operated by the Union of India or a State, any action to impose a lawsuit against the railway administration may be filed against the Union of India or the State, and the railway administration may or may not be identified as a defendant.

However, if there is a need for a suit for freight for carrying goods, the Union of India will file one, as the Supreme Court of India held in the seminal case of Union of India v. RC Jall.

A important finding was made in the case of Secretary of State v. Rustom Khan about the responsibility to be sued under Section 79 of the CPC. No claim could be brought against the East India Company for acts of state or acts of supremacy, and no suit could be brought in response to those acts.


The Ministry of Works and Housing, Government of India and Ors. v. Mohinder Singh Jagdev, the Supreme Court held that the Union of India may sue and be sued under Article 300 of the Constitution in relation to its affairs, and that under Section 79 read with Order XXVII, Rule 1 CPC, in a suit by or against the Central Government, the authority to be identified as complainant or defendant, as the plaintiff or defendant, as the plaintiff or defendant, as the plaintiff or defendant, as the plaintiff or defendant

It was specified in State of Rajasthan vs Rikhabchand Dhariwal, AIR 1961 Raj 64, that if it is considered appropriate to implead the State or any of its Departments as a claimant in a civil suit, compliance with Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code is mandatory.

The Court had drawn the comparison from Section 79 CPC, which orders that the State shall be the authority to be identified as appellant or complainant in a claim by or against the State, and Section 80 thereof, which directs notice to the Secretary of that State or the Collector of the district before the institution.

Rule 1 of Order XXVII determines who can sign the pleadings in the court. Under the scheme of the constitution and the CPC, no particular officer of the government who is not a juristic person may file a suit or start any proceeding in the name and office he occupies.

The State was not impleaded as a participant in a money recovery action before the Trial Court in Sangamesh Printing Press v. Chief Executive Officer, Taluk Development Board, (1999) 6 SCC 44. The lawsuit was dismissed due to the inability of the necessary group to attend. During the appeal, an application for impleadment of the State was lodged under O. I, R. 10, but the High Court resolved the case on the merits without considering it. This Court made the following observations:

“In terms of the facts and circumstances of this case, we conclude the High Court should have determined the appellant’s application under Order 1 Rule 10 C.P.C. before continuing to hear the appeal in question. The appellant has incurred significant

damage as a result of the inability to dispose of the complaint under Order I Rule 10. As a result, we overturn the High Court’s ruling and reinstate Standard First Appeal No. 29 of 1987. The High Court should first resolve the pending case under Order I Rule 10 C.P.C., and then continue to rule on the appeal in compliance with the law.”

In a related case, Chief Conservator of Forests, this Court acknowledged the contention that a writ cannot be issued without the State being identified as a party if relief is requested against the State.

Section 79 CPC directs that the State shall be the jurisdiction to be identified as appellant or claimant in a claim by or against the Government, and Section 80 thereof directs notice to the Secretary of that State or the Collector of the district until the institution of the suit, and Rule 1 of Order XXVII directs who should sign the pleadings.