What is an interlocutory application?
Interlocutory applications are filed for various reliefs during the trial of a suit, hearing of an appeal, or inquiry in a proceeding. Interlocutory applications do not decide any matter in issue arising in the suit, nor do they put an end to the litigation. Interlocutory Application is not defined in the Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.
Official definition of interlocutory application
Interlocutory application as defined under legislations
Rule 2 (j) of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Rules of Practice and Circular Orders, 1990 defines an interlocutory application as “an application to the court in any suit,appeal or proceedings already instituted in such court, other than a proceeding for execution of a decree or order”.
A similar definition is provided in the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018 as “an application in any suit, appeal or proceeding, already instituted in the Original Side of the Court, not being a proceeding for execution of a decree or order”.
In the Karnataka amendment of Order XXXVII-A of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, an interlocutory application means “an application to the Court in any suit, appeal or proceeding already instituted in such Court other than an application for execution of a decree or order or for review to judgment or for leave to appeal.”
In the Karnataka Civil Rules of Practice, 1967, it is defined as “an application to the Court in any Suit, Appeal or Proceeding already instituted in such Court other than an application for execution of the decree or setting aside the decree or final order made in such Suit, Appeal or Proceeding, or an application for review of judgment and includes every application seeking an order by way of aid pending final adjudication of the matter arising in the Suit.”
The Supreme Court of India’s website lists 395 kinds of interlocutory applications. This includes interim injunction, condonation of delay in filing, rejoinder, appointment of the guardian of a minor, grant of maintenance, oral hearing etc. It also includes grant of bail, interim bail, anticipatory bail, application for issuing warrant, issue of bailable or non bailable warrant of arrest and so on.
Legal provisions relating to interlocutory applications
Provisions under the Civil Procedure Code, 1908
Section 75 of Part III the CPC deals with incidental proceedings or consequential orders that are “those which follow as a matter of course being necessary, complements in the main order without which the matter would be incomplete or in effective.” This provision gives the court the power to examine any person, make a local investigation, examine or adjust accounts,make partitions etc.
Section 94, Part VI of of the CPC deals with supplemental proceedings and lays down general powers of Courts regarding various kinds of interlocutory orders. This includes power to grant a temporary injunction, appoint receivers of a property, issue a warrant to arrest the defendant and bring him before the Court to show cause why he should not give security for his appearance, and if he fails to comply with any order for security commit him to the civil prison etc.
Provisions under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
Section 397(1) of the CrPC deals with the powers of revision conferred on High Court and Sessions Court judges. Section 397(2) creates an exception to this power by providing that The powers of revision conferred by sub- Section (1) shall not be exercised in relation to any interlocutory order passed in any appeal, inquiry, trial or other proceeding. In this context, an interlocutory order is understood as “…orders of a purely interim or temporary nature which does not decide or touches the important rights of the liabilities of the parties. Any order which substantially affects the right of the accused, or decides certain rights of the parties cannot be said to be an interlocutory order so as to bar a revision.”
Appearance of interlocutory application in databases
Treatment of interlocutory applications as case types varies across High Courts. An examination of the case types available on the case status search on high court websites and the e-courts website show that only a few high courts, namely, Bombay,Gauhati, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttarakand provide interlocutory applications as an option. In Bombay and Kerala, the nomenclature used is ‘interim application’. The Gauhati High Court specifies three categories of IA: interlocutory application, interlocutory application (civil) and interlocutory application (criminal). It is also the only high court that specifically provides for IAs in criminal matters.
The other high courts do not include IAs as a category.
Research that engages with interlocutory applications
- Devendra Damle and Tushar Anand in ‘Problem with E-courts data’, NIPFP Working Paper (2020)' discuss how treatment of Interlocutory and Interim Applications, Injunction Petitions, Execution Petitions, and other motions and applications under the CPC during the course of litigation differ from state to state. The article observes that "Some states treat these as cases in themselves. Some record what is known as the main matter and file it under the substantive law, and the procedural matters as linked matters, tagged under the CPC. Some states tag the procedural matters under both the substantive and procedural law. Moreover, some, like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, do not tag certain cases with the substantive law at all." 
- Checking and Registration of Interlocutory Applications. available at: https://districts.ecourts.gov.in/sites/default/files/1st-Topic_0.pdf (accessed on 08/08/2023)
- Andhra Pradesh Civil Rules of Practice and Circular Orders, 1990, r 2(j). available at:https://districts.ecourts.gov.in/sites/default/files/civilrulescircularorders_1.pdf accessed on (08.08.23)
- Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018, r 2(i). available at:https://delhihighcourt.nic.in/uploads/public_notice/PublicNotice_71IKHHIK.PDF (accessed on 08.08.2023)
- Karnataka Civil Rules of Practice, 1967, r 17. available at:https://karnatakajudiciary.kar.nic.in/hcklibrary/PDF/kar-crp-civil.pdf (accessed on 08.08.2023)
- Supreme Court of India, Interlocutory Application, available at: https://main.sci.gov.in/interlocutary-application (accessed on 08.08.2023)
- Amar Nath v State of Haryana, (1977) 4 SCC 137
- Devendra Damle and Tushar Anand, ‘Problem with E-courts data’, NIPFP Working Paper (2020) <https://www.nipfp.org.in/media/medialibrary/2020/07/WP_314__2020.pdf