Principles of natural justice requires that a person charged with any blame should be given an opportunity to explain or give reason for such conduct before proceeding to take action against such person. On the same principle before initiating any action in a court of law against a person the suitor should give an opportunity to such defendant to do or not to do certain things or acts and caution him of the proposed legal action. Thus issuance of a prior notice to defendant before suing him is envisaged in practice. Notice is the foundation on which the structure of pleadings depends. The law on notices is lengthy chapter, which is simplified in these few lines.
Now look at the formats of notices starting from a statutory notice to the Government. Why is it called statutory notice? Because according to section 80 of Code of Civil Procedure a suitor must give two months prior notice to the concerned authority of the government.
Section 80 of Code of Civil Procedure reads thus:
1[(1)] 2[Save as otherwise provided in sub-section (2), no suits 3[shall be instituted] against the Government (including the Government of the State of Jammu & Kashmir)] or against a public officer in respect of any act purporting to be done by such officer in his official capacity, until the expiration of two months next after notice in writing has been 4[delivered to, or left at the office of]-
(a) in the case of a suit against the Central Government, 5[except where it relates to a railway], a Secretary to that Government;
6[7[(b)] in the case of a suit against the Central Government where it relates to railway, the General Manager of that railway];
8[(bb) in the case of a suit against the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir the Chief Secretary to that Government or any other officer authorised by that Government in this behalf;]
(c) in the case of a suit against 9[any other State Government], a Secretary to that Government or the Collector of the district;
and, in the case of a public officer, delivered to him or left at this office, stating the cause of action, the name, description and place of residence of the plaintiff and the relief which he claims; and the plaint shall contain a statement that such notice has been so delivered or left.
12[(2) A suit to obtain an urgent or immediate relief against the Government (including the Government of the State of Jammu & Kashmir) or any public officer in respect of any act purporting to be done by such public officer in his official capacity, may be instituted, with the leave of the Court, without serving any notice as required by sub-section (1); but the Court shall not grant relief in the suit, whether interim or otherwise, except after giving to the Government or public officer, as the case may be, a reasonable opportunity of showing cause in respect of the relief prayed for in the suit:
Provided that the Court shall, if it is satisfied, after hearing the parties, that no urgent or immediate relief need be granted in the suit, return the plaint for presentation to it after complying with the requirements of sub-section (1).
(3) No suit instituted against the Government or against a public officer in respect of any act purporting to be done by such public officer in his official capacity shall be dismissed merely by reason of any error or defect in the notice referred to in sub-section (1), if in such notice-
(a) the name, description and the residence of the plaintiff had been so given as to enable the appropriate authority or the public officer to identify the person serving the notice and such notice had been delivered or left at the office of the appropriate authority specified in sub-section (1), and
(b) the cause of action and the relief claimed by the plaintiff had been substantially indicated.]
1. Sec. 80 renumbered as sub-section (1) of that section by Act No. 104 of 1976, sec. 27 (w.e.f. 1-2-1977).
2. Subs, by Act No. 104 of 1976, sec. 27 for “No suit shall be instituted’ (w.e.f. 1-2-1977).
3. Subs. by Act 26 of 1963, sec. 3 for “shall be instituted against the Government” (w.e.f. 5-6-1964). The words in italics were subs. by the A.O. 1948 for “instituted against the Crown”.
4. Subs. by the A.O. 1937, “in case of the Secretary of State in Council, deliver to , or left at the office of a Secretary to the L.G. or the COntroller ofn the district”.
5. Ins. by Act 6 of 1948, sec. 2.
6. Clause (aa) ins. by Act 6 of 1948, sec. 2.
7. Clause (aa) relettered as clause (b) and the former clause (b) omitted by the A.O. 1948.
8. Ins. by the Act 26 of 1963, sec. 3 (w.e.f. 5-6-1964).
9. Subs. by the Act 26 of 1963, sec. 3 for “a State Government” (w.e.f. 5-6-1964).
10. The word “and” omitted by the A.O. 1948.
11. Clause (d) omitted by the A.O. 1948.
12. Ins. by Act No. 104 of 1976, sec. 27 (w.e.f. 1-2-1977).
Many statutes have prescribed a prior notice of two months as a condition precedent to file a suit or any proceeding. Every rule has an exception so this rule should also have an exception. It is true that in case of any matter of urgent nature issuing prior notice and waiting thereafter for two months may cause immediate loss or damages to the plaintiff. Then he may file a suit with an application to dispense with the notice. But for filing a writ petition against the government no prior notice is required.