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Defendants cannot be held responsible in their personal capacity to pay the damages for decisions taken in an official capacity: High Court of Delhi

Defendants cannot be held responsible in their personal capacity to pay the damages and it is for the institutes to decide through whom they intend to enter the appearance. In a suit of this nature, if the officials of the government are impleaded in personal capacity, the same would adversely affect the functioning and administration, inasmuch as these decisions are taken in an official capacity, there cannot be any personal liability attached to such actions and the same was upheld by High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by Justice Prathiba M. Singh in the case of G. VEERABAHU vs. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS & ANR. [C.R.P. 14/2022] on 11.02.2022.

The facts of the case are that a suit was filed by the Plaintiff and in the suit the Plaintiff sought damages and other reliefs on the ground of vicarious and strict liability against the Respondents. The Plaintiff assails the impugned order passed by the Trial Court by which the summons have been issued only to the organizations and the Ministry and not to the officials including the Vice Chancellor, Director etc.

The plaintiff’s counsel submitted that since this is a suit for damages, the summons ought to be issued against all the officials against whom the cause of action arises. The Plaintiff being the dominus litus has the free will to implead all such Defendants against whom he has a cause of action. The non-issuance of summons against the said Defendants would be unjust qua the Plaintiff as he is entitled to seek damages against the officials as well.

The counsel for the Respondent submitted that there is no cause of action disclosed against them. It was further submitted that the officials have unnecessarily been impleaded and the summons cannot be issued against the other officials as they cannot be held responsible personally for acts done in official capacity.

Accordingly to facts and circumstances of the case, the Court held that the present order shall not affect the applications, which may have been moved by any of the parties under Order VII Rule 11 CPC and if at any stage, the Trial Court is of the opinion that if any case of mala fides is made out qua any of the officials, at that stage, the Court would be at liberty to issue summons to the said specific official.

The Court observed, “Defendants cannot be held responsible in their personal capacity to pay the damages and it is for the institutes to decide through whom they intend to enter the appearance. In a suit of this nature, if the officials of the government are impleaded in personal capacity, the same would adversely affect the functioning and administration, inasmuch as these decisions are taken in an official capacity, there cannot be any personal liability attached to such actions.”

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Judgment reviewed by – Shristi Suman

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