Through official gazette notification by the Law and Justice Ministry dated 17th January, 2020, the Central government declared the United Arab Emirates to be a reciprocating territory vide Section 44A of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC).
This action was taken to increase cooperation between the two sovereigns.
In 1999, India signed a bilateral agreement for Juridical and Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters for the Service of Summons, Judicial Documents, Commission, Execution of Judgements and Arbitral Awards to enhance cooperation among businesses.
UAE’s 80% population is made of expatriates out of which Indians take the biggest share with a striking 27.49% of the pie which translates to 2.623 million.
Section 44A of the CPC deals with execution of decrees passed by superior courts in reciprocating territory in India as if it were passed by a District Court in India. “Reciprocating territory” as notified under this section can be any territory outside India declared by the Central Government via Official Gazette.
As for the “decree” passed by these superior courts, it would include any decree or judgement under which a sum of money is payable. Though the sum payable must not be in respect to taxes or any charges in the nature of fine and shall not include an arbitration award.
Courts in UAE that have been declared as Superior Courts:
- Federal Courts:
- Federal Supreme Court;
- Federal, First Instance and Appeals Courts in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah;
- Local Courts:
- Abu Dhabi Judicial Department;
- Dubai Courts;
- Ras Al Khaimah Judicial Department;
- Courts of Abu Dhabi Global Markets;
- Courts of Dubai International Financial Center.
Different type of Decree:
In the case of Marine Geotechnic LLC v/s Coastal Marine Construction and Engineering, the Bombay High Court held that there are two types of decrees i.e. reciprocating and non-reciprocating decrees. Decrees from territories which the Central Government has notified as ‘reciprocating’ under Section 44A of CPC are decrees from reciprocating territory; all other decrees are decrees from non-reciprocating territories.
Requirements for the execution of a Decree:
When a decree is passed by a non-reciprocating country a new suit is needed to be filed in the District Court and such decree cannot be executed directly as opposed to a reciprocating country which is executed directly. Rather a decree by a non-reciprocating country is treated as a piece of evidence.
Irrespective,decrees from both, reciprocating as well as non-reciprocating territory, will have to comply with the requirements of section 13 and 14(1) of the CPC. The reciprocating decrees are executed by filing a copy of the decree concerned in a District Court in India.
Limitation period on the execution of Foreign decrees:
No application of Limitation period was notified in the execution of foreign Decrees giving rise to divergent opinion on the point. The Supreme Court in its recent decision of Bank of Baroda v. Kotak Mahindra Bank has put an end to this ambiguity ruling that the limitation period is applicable to the execution of foreign decrees.
The standard limitation period for an Indian decree is 12 years from the date of the decree. It was held that the limitation period of the reciprocating decree will be determined by the local laws of the cause country.
At the same time, the limitation period for making an application for execution of a foreign decree in India is 3 (three) years from the date on which the right to apply accrues as per the Article 137 of the Limitation Act.
Other Countries that have been notified as Reciprocating Territory:
UAE is the 11th country to be noticed as a reciprocating territory. The other countries are the United Kingdom, Singapore, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Trinidad & Tobago, New Zealand, the Cook Islands (including Niue) and the Trust Territories of Western Samoa, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Aden.
The move will certainly be useful in bringing down the time required in execution of decrees between two countries.This step also marks a step for increased cooperation between these two countries.
About the Author – Aditya Pratap
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising in Mumbai. He argues cases in the Bombay High Court, Sessions and Magistrate Courts, along with appearances before RERA, NCLT and the Family Court. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in or view his YouTube Channel to see his interviews. Questions can be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Article is made by Aditya Pratap in assistance with Aditi Dixit.
Cases argued by Aditya Pratap can be viewed here.