Lecture on Doctrine of Limine Control by Justice Jawad Hassan

Lecture on Doctrine of Limine Control by Justice Jawad Hassan at Punjab Judicial Academy

1. The word “Limine” comes from the latin noun “Limen”, meaning “the threshold”. Hence, the phrase “In Limine” means “at the threshold”. In Black’s Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979) the phrase is defined as “on or at the threshold; at the very beginning; preliminary”. In The Bank of Nova Scotia v. Edward M. Del Grande the court of appeal for ontariogrange j.A. (in chambers) defined motion in limine as:- “In limine is not an expression in common current use. It means simply preliminary.”

2. In Billy Blanks ET AL. v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP et al. reported at 171 Cal.App.4th 336 (2009) 89 Cal.Rptr.3d 710 it was observed as: “In limine motions are designed to facilitate the management of a case, generally by deciding difficult evidentiary issues in advance of trial. The usual purpose of motions in limine is to preclude the presentation of evidence deemed inadmissible and prejudicial by the moving party. A typical order in limine excludes the challenged evidence and directs counsel, parties, and witnesses not to refer to the excluded matters during trial. The advantage of such motions is to avoid the obviously futile attempt to unring the bell in the event a motion to strike is granted in the proceedings before the jury…”

3. In Muhammad Mustafa’s case (PLD 1992 SC 62), the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as: “At a limine hearing the High Court is not only competent but also bound to make preliminary enquiry for reaching a preliminary satisfaction about the factual basis of a writ petition. Ignoring this part in the writ petitions sometimes leads to unnecessary admission of writ petitions which ultimately, after considerable time and expense, are dismissed.”

5. In Malik Gul Hassan’s case (1995 CLC 1662), the Hon’ble Court observed as: “Generally when the High Court does not find it appropriate to admit for regular hearing a petition and before issuing a notice to the respondent -party, dismisses the petition after summary hearing it is said to be dismissed in limine.”

6. In National Judicial Policy 2009 it is candidly stated as under: “Writ petitions under Article 199 of the Constitution should be fixed for ‘Katchi Peshi’ on the next day of institution and be disposed of as quickly as possible.”

7. The concept of limine control is not a new one; in number of constitutional petitions filed under Article 199 of the Constitution, the Hon’ble Superior Courts dismissed the petitions in limine. Following are certain instances:- i. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan in judgments reported at 2016 SCMR 842, 2011 SCMR 1813 and PLD 2010 SC 969 has held that in the wake of availability of an alternate efficacious remedy, jurisdiction of this Court under Article 199 of the Constitution cannot be invoked. The constitutional petition was dismissed in limine. (2017 PLC (C.S.) 304); ii. Inordinate delay in invoking Constitutional jurisdiction of High Court. Writ petition was dismissed in limine. (1988 SCMR 1680); iii. Petitioner had failed to show himself to be an aggrieved person to agitate any bona fide grievance as pro bono public. High Court dismissed constitutional petition in limine. (2014 CLC 1348); ix. High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Art.199 of the Constitution can neither enter into factual controversies nor decide disputed questions of fact. Reliance is placed on 1986 CLC 1123, 1994 SCMR 572 and PLD 2001 SC 415. Writ petition was dismissed in limine. (1987 SCMR 1910 and 2008 CLC 593); x. Mere oral assertions cannot be made basis for interference in writ jurisdiction. Writ petition was dismissed in limine. (PLD 2008 Lahore 364); xi. Disputed factual controversy requiring determination through detailed inquiry involving recording of evidence, cannot be resolved in exercise of Constitutional jurisdiction. Reliance is placed on PLD 1964 SC 636 and 1993 SCMR 618. Writ petition was dismissed in limine. (2007 PCr.LJ 985); xii. Finding of facts recorded by two Courts below cannot be disturbed in constitutional jurisdiction. Writ petition was dismissed in limine. (2007 MLD 1096); xiii. Where power to frame Regulations is given to corporation established under a statute, then such Regulations are not to be treated as Statutory Rules, the breach whereof can be enforced by filing a suit and not by constitutional petition. Writ petition was dismissed in limine. (2007 PLC (C.S.) 138); 8. In appellate domain the honorable Superior Courts have also applied doctrine of ‘Limine control’ and have dismissed appeals in limine. Following are certain instances:- i. Regular First Appeal could be dismissed in limine without summoning the record. (2008 SCMR 635); ii. Order XLI, rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 empowers the Appellate Court to dismiss the appeal without sending notice to the lower Court for transmission of record and without notice to the respondent. (2006 SCMR 895)

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