LAW YOG
Amendment of Pleadings

Amendment of Pleadings under Order 6 Rule 17 of CPC

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Order VI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 encapsulates the provisions regarding the pleadings. The first stage of the suit is filing a plaint in the court of law by the Plaintiff/s. As soon as the plaint is accepted by the respective court then, the court issue summons to the Defendant/s and asks them to submit a reply to the allegations made against him/ them, which is called a written statement by the Defendant/s and as per Order VI Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 “pleadings shall mean plaint or written statement” i.e. plaint and written statement can be collectively referred to as ‘Pleadings’.

Object of Pleadings

The object of pleadings is to:

  • Advance justice.
  • Ensure that the litigants come to trial with all issues clearly defined.
  • Prevent the multiplicity of suits.
  • Prevent cases or issues being expanded or grounds for the suit being filed shifted during the trial.
  • Give each side an intimation of the case and let the court determine the issues in the case.
  • Inform the court as well as the Defendant about the grievances of the Plaintiff and vice versa.
  • Know the case of the adversary, so that one can set up his defense by collecting necessary facts, evidence, documents, etc. which might prove to be very vital for the concerned parties.
  • Inform the opposite party about the nature of the relief, the other party is pleading for.

In the case of Firm Gauri Lal Gurdev Dass v. Firm Ajaib Singh Harbans Singh1, the Hon’ble Court held that the main object of pleadings is to narrow the parties to definite issues and to diminish expenses and delay, especially as regard the amount of testimony required on either side at the hearing.

Further, in the case of Syed Dastagir v TR Gopalkrishna Setty2, it was held by the Hon’ble Apex Court that the pleadings should be read as a whole to gather the true spirit behind it. This does not distract one from performing his obligations as required under the statute.

Fundamental Rules Regarding Pleadings

Do’s and Don’ts for pleadings.

  • In pleadings, only material facts (facts which the parties are bound to prove to establish the cause of action or the defence), and not the laws, are to be stated. It is a presumption that the judge is well versed in the law.
  • Only material facts & material particulars of it i.e. facts vital to decide the case must be stated.
  • Every party must state only the facts on which it is relying and not the evidence to prove the same.
  • The facts from which one party’s malice or knowledge about a particular thing can be inferred must be stated in the pleadings.
  • It must be drafted as clear and meticulous as possible and should not be vague or absurd.

However, pleadings should not be construed with strictness. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Madan Gopal v Mamraj3 held that it is well settled that pleadings are loosely drafted in the Courts, and the Courts should not scrutinize the pleadings with such meticulous care so as to result in genuine claims being defeated on trivial grounds.

  • No relief would not be granted by the court which is not even pleaded for in the pleading submitted by the party.
  • Pleadings neither create new legal rights nor do they take away the existing rights.
  • Where law expects compliance of some condition/s which must be fulfilled before filing the suit in the court of law, then that/ those condition/s must be duly complied by the parties. For instance, in the case of dishonor of cheque, before filing the suit for the same, the aggrieved party must have duly complied with the condition of sending a legal notice to the defaulting party.
  • Certain particulars are to be given when necessary in the pleadings. For instance, if the suit is filed regarding the fraud committed in a contract then copious details of how the fraud was committed must be stated in the pleadings.
  • Regarding malice and knowledge of the parties involved, it can be alleged as a fact without mentioning the circumstances through which it can be inferred.
  • If any notice has been served to the other party or any person then that must be stated in the pleadings.
  • Lastly, the pleading must be signed and verified by the respective parties.

When Amendment of Pleadings can be sought?

Provisions regarding amending or alteration of pleadings is mentioned under Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. To understand the provisions with respect to the amendment of pleadings, one must be acquainted with the stages of suit which are as follows:

Stage 1 – Presentation of the plaint by the Plaintiff along with requisite court fees, documents, and vakalatnama.

Stage 2 – Consideration of the plaint by the court and if the plaint is accepted, then the registrar will allot a suit number, and the suit moves to the third stage.

Stage 3 – Service of summons to the Defendant/s by the court.

Stage 4 – Defendant has to submit a written statement (reply in defense) within 30 to 90 days along with supporting documents etc.

Stage 5 – After meticulously going through the plaint and the written statement filed, the court frames the issues with respect to that particular case. 

Stage 6 – Recording of evidence i.e. filing of evidence by the Plaintiff/s & Defendants/s. Further, the examination in chief and cross-examination also takes place in this stage.

Stage 7 – Final arguments by the parties and summarizing their respective contentions.

Stage 8 – Judgement delivered by the court. 

One must be well versed with the stages of the suit because the stage of the suit plays an essential role when it comes to the amendment of pleadings because of the following reasons:

  • Amendment of pleadings is generally allowed only before the commencement of the trial. It’s said to be commenced as soon as the issues are framed by the court. Therefore, subject to certain exceptions, the amendment of pleadings is not allowed after Stage 5 of the suit.

In the case of Chandra Narayan Tripathi v. Kapil Muni Karwariya4, the court held that when issues had not yet been framed and the Respondent moved the amendment application at the very initial stage within a month from the date of filing of the written statement, it was held that the amendment application cannot be rejected on the ground that it was barred by the proviso to Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

  • However, the amendments of the pleadings sought are subject to a certain condition which are:
  1. The amendment sought must be just and reasonable and should be imperative for correct adjudication of the suit.
  2. It must not cause some prejudice or serious injustice to the opposite party.
  3. The application for amendment of the pleadings must be bonafide.
  4. The amendment sought must not lead to needless complications.
  5. The court would not allow the amendment if the party seeking it had ample opportunities regarding the same but, they slept over their rights. The basis of this rule is a legal maxim ‘Vigilantibus Non-Dormientibus Jura Subveniunt’ which means that “the law serves the vigilant, not those who sleep”. 
  6. The fact that, if the amendment is allowed then whether it’s going to constitutionally or fundamentally change the nature and character of the suit, should be taken into account.

In the case of Heeralal v. Kalyan Mat5, the Hon’ble Apex Court held that Amendment of a written statement by substituting certain paragraphs, introducing entirely different new case,s and seeking to displace the Plaintiff and cause him irretrievable prejudice, from admission made by defendants in a written statement, is to be rejected.

  • The court may allow amendment of pleadings even after the trial commences if it comes to the conclusion that even after due diligence, the concerned party could not have raised the issue before the court.

The same was held in the case of Haridas Girdharidas v Vasadaraja Filial6, in which the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that however late the amendment might have been sought if its allowance wouldn’t cause any grave injustice to the other party then that specific amendment must be allowed by the Court. 

Law applicable after the amendment of pleadings is allowed.

As per Order VI Rule 18 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, if a party obtains an order for amending its pleadings and:

  1. Does not comply with the order and amend its pleadings within the time granted by the court, or;
  2. If there is no time prescribed by the court then, within 14 days from the date of the order passed does not comply with the order

Then after the expiration of the aforementioned time, the concerned party would not be allowed to amend its pleadings unless the time granted is extended by the court.

Conclusion

Pleadings are considered to be the backbone of every suit. The court takes various points into account before allowing any party to amend or alter its pleadings with the main objective of providing justice and not causing prejudice to any party. Though this provision of law is utilized as a tactic to delay the suits and create countless complications, on the other hand, it also proves to be a savior for many concerned parties who want to be at the receiving ends of justice. To sum it all in one sentence, it can be said that it’s a double-edged sword that needs to be utilized with the utmost care and precautions to gain the best out of it.

Endnotes

  1. AIR 1960 Punj 62 (DB).
  2. AIR 1999 SC 3029 (3032) : (1999) 6 SCC 337.
  3. AIR 1976 SC 461.
  4. AIR 2012 All 116.
  5. AIR 1998 SC 618 (621, 622) : (1998) 1 SCC 278 : (1998) 1 MLJ (SC) 101.
  6. AIR 1971 SC 2366 (2368) : (1971) 1 SCC 601 : (1973) 2 MLJ (SC) 45.
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Siddhant Srivastava

Student, ILS Law College, Pune

Siddhant is an aspiring lawyer who is pursuing his final year of 3 years LL.B from ILS Pune. He is a diligent & meticulous person who possesses experience in both Corporate & Litigation sector and wishes to aware the general public regarding some crucial aspects of law in as simple language as possible. Siddhant is always willing to groom himself and prove to be a valuable asset to any organization he becomes a part of.

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