Order I Rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 deals with representative suit. A representative suit is a suit that is filed by one or more persons on behalf of themselves and others having same interest in the suit. The general rule is that all persons interested in a suit ought to be joined as parties to it. Rule 8 forms an exception to this general rule. The rule enacted is for convenience based on reason and good policy as it saves from expense and trouble which would otherwise have to be incurred in such cases.
Definition: A representative suit is a suit filed by or against one or more persons on behalf of themselves and others having the same interest in the suit.
For the purpose of determining whether the persons who sue or are sued, or defend, have the same interest in one suit, it is not necessary to establish that such persons have the same cause of action as the person on whom behalf, or for whose benefit, they sue or are sued, or defend the suit, as the case may be.
The object of the rule is to afford convenience in suits where there is community interest among large number of persons so that a few should be allowed to represent. In other words, the object for which this provision is made is really to facilitate the decision of question in which a large body of persons are interested without recourse to ordinary procedure otherwise there will be inseparable practical difficulty in the institution of suits, where each individual has ro maintain an action by a separate suit. (Kodia Gounder v. Velandi Gounder AIR 1955)
Conditions for a representative suit
There are basically four essential conditions for a party to institute a representative suit which can be derived from the provision of Rule 8, they are:
1. The parties are numerous
2. Same interest or Community of interest
3. Necessary permission of the Court has been obtained
4. Notice to all the persons interested in the suit
• Same Interest:
For the representative suit it is essential that the parties have the same interest in the suit. The interest must be common to them all or they must have a common grievance of which they seek the redress. Community of Interest is sine qua non to maintain a representative suit. If for example- A sues 100 persons who have in pursuance of a conspiracy trespassed on his land or have wrongfully confined him, and A asks for declaratory relief, the court should have the power to permit him to sue, say, 3 of the opponents as representatives of all the hundred, provided there is community of interest among them, which can be said to exist where there is concerted action or a common object though the cause of action against each trespasser is separate. The interest need not be proprietary neither joint nor concurrent.
The expression Same Interest was well explained by Lord Machaghten in Bed Ford (Duke of) v. Ellis in 1901 as given a common interest and common grievance, a representative suit was in order if the relief sought was in its nature beneficial to all whom the plaintiff proposed to represent.
The question of same cause of action arises from the objects and reasons of Rule 8. The amendment to the rule in 1976 has added an Explanation to clarify that such persons need not have the same cause of action. Same interest therefore does not mean same cause of action under this rule.
• Permission of Court:
Court must have granted permission or the direction must have been given by the Court. This is required in order to bind the persons other than those who are actually parties to it. If no permission is taken the suit will not be a representative one. Permission under Order 1, Rule 8, CPC may be granted even after the institution of the suit and even at the appellate stage by allowing an amendment, if such amendment does not materially change the nature of the suit.
This is the last condition that notice will have to be given to all concerned parties. Where permission is granted to file a suit in representative capacity then it is mandatory to give notice of the institution of suit to all the persons interested. Notice maybe given directly through personal service or by advertisement as directed by the Court.
Courts must see that if they direct that the notice should be by public advertisement, it must disclose the nature of the suit as well as the reliefs claimed therein in order to enable the persons interested to get themselves impleaded as parties to the suit either to support the case or to defend against it. Further the notice must mention the names of the persons who have been permitted to represent them so that the persons interested may have an opportunity of knowing who have been selected to represent them.
Rule 8 is mandatory and must be complied with. A suit filed without complying conditions cannot be said to be a representative suit. In this also, parties on record may be made liable to pay costs. In exceptional cases, however, even unrepresented parties may be directed tio pay costs.[iv] It is also to be noted that a decree passed in a representative suit can be executed like any other decree passed in a regular suit. It can be executed against the persons representing and who are parties eo nomine as also against the persons represented through parties on record.