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Difference between Suo Moto, Suo Motu & Sua Sponte in Law

Dictionary Meaning

“Suo motu” - It is a Latin term. In simple words, it means "His motion".

“Sua sponte” - It is a Latin term. In simple words, it means "Spontaneously".

“Suo moto” - It is an Italian term. In simple words, it means "His motion".

Legal Meaning

In legal terms, there is no difference between the terms “suo moto”, “suo motu” & “sua sponte”.

They all mean the same i.e. "on its own motion" or "of one's own will" or "of his, her, its or their own accord" or "of its own volition".

In law, the terms are described as an act of authority which is taken without any prior formal request or motion from the parties involved in a case.

Such authorities are generally a government entity or a court or a regulatory body who have the authority under the prescribed law to take action on its own by following necessary procedure.


1) On March 10, 2020, the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the rising number of murder cases in the country and sought status reports from all states by March 31, 2020.

2) The city police have registered a suo motu case against youths shouting murderous slogans in the rally for the home minister.

3) The Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognizance in 6 cases of alleged human rights violations reported in ABC newspaper on 15th March, 2020 and issued notices to the concerned authorities seeking reports within 2 weeks.

4) Judge sua sponte dismissed plaintiff’s complaint for improper venue with leave to refile in defendant’s home territory.


  1. Chinmaya Kumar02 July, 2020

    Thanks for the simple explanation. Helped me in understanding the terms easily.


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