Applicability Of Foreign Judgment in India – Review

With globalization at its peak, India is emerging as a global player internationally. So, getting a hang of laws related to enforcing foreign judgments in India is a good idea. Before we move on, let’s define some of the associated legal terms for clarity purpose. While decree means judgment a foreign court is a court that is located outside of India and not established or under the control of Central Government of India. Foreign judgments thus refer to judgments that are made in foreign courts viz courts outside India.

The recognition of a foreign judgment in India is based on certain agreements between countries, bilateral or multilateral understandings or unilaterally at times as well. The decision is said to be recognized only if a country’s jurisdiction accepts the decree/ judgment of another country’s court and passes the judgment on the same lines without asking for a re-hearing of the original lawsuit substance.

There are two ways in which a foreign judgment can be enforced in India.
1. File a petition for execution under section 44A of the CPC
2. File a suit upon the foreign decree/ judgment

Point 1 is only valid for reciprocating countries or territories as per the section 44A of CPC.
As per CPC section 44A, explanation 1, reciprocating territory is defines as any territory or country outside India, declared as a reciprocating territory by a notification in the official gazette.
Some of the countries that fall under the list of reciprocating territories are UK, Bangladesh, UAE, New Zealand, Hong Kong, to name a few. In all there are 12 territories under the category.

Point 2 is valid for non reciprocating territories like USA, where in a law suit has to be filed in an Indian court within a time limit of 3 years of the foreign judgment. The Indian judiciary considers the judgment as evidential.

Decree Execution for Reciprocating Territories
1. If a certified copy of the judgment from a reciprocating territory is provided to the court in India, the judgment is executed in India similar to any other judgment passed by Indian District Court.
2. A certificate from the superior court stating the extent to which the decree can be adjusted or satisfied as a conclusive proof for the same.
3. While executing a decree the proceedings of the district court will be subject to provisions of section 47 and if such a decree falls under any of the exceptions stated under its clauses (a) to (f) and satisfies the court, then the court would reject or refuse execution of the same.

Decree for Execution of Non Reciprocating Territories
If a decree does not pertain to the supreme court of a reciprocating country or a reciprocating territory for that matter, the decree cannot be executed in India directly and a fresh suit needs to be filed in the Indian court on the basis of the foreign courts decree. This decree would then be considered as evidential for the case.

Having said that, it is mandatory under both cases for the decree to clear the test of IPC section 13, which covers certain exceptions with regard to the conclusiveness of a foreign judgment.