amendment of pleadings
Image Source - https://daimamunene.wordpress.com/category/supreme-court/

In this article, Asmita Topdar discusses the rules of pleadings under the Code of Civil Procedure.

Introduction

Pleadings form the foundation for any case in the court of law. It is a statement in writing filed by the counsel of plaintiff stating his contentions on the case, on the basis of which the defendant shall file the written statement defending himself and explaining why the plaintiff’s contentions should not prevail. Sometimes the plaintiff, having filed his plaint, may, with the leave of the court, file a statement or the court may require him to file a written statement. In such cases, the written statement forms part of the plaintiff’s pleadings. Similarly, there are cases in which the defendant having filed his written statement may, with the leave of the court, file an additional written statement or the Court may require him to do so. In such cases the additional written statement also forms part of the defendant’s pleadings.[1] This is the first stage of a suit. Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) in order 6, Rule 1 defines pleadings as a written statement or a plaint. The plaintiff’s written statement and the defendant’s additional written statement are termed supplemental pleadings.

Objective of pleading

The whole objective behind pleading is to narrow down on the issues and provide a clear picture of the case thereby enhancing and expediting the court proceedings. The pleadings help both the parties know their point of dispute and where both parties differ so as to bring forth the relevant arguments and evidence in the court of law.

The Supreme Court on 25th March, 1972 while disposing a case praying for certain amendments in an election petition, observed that rules of pleadings are intended towards giving justice and to act as aids for fair trial.

Rules of Pleadings

The four words which can crisply summarise the rule of pleading is ‘Plead facts not law’. The counsel of both the parties should only project the facts in their respective case rather than suggesting on the laws applicable in the particular case.

To gain a crystal clear understanding of the same, the rules can be studied in two parts that is:

1) Basic or Fundamental Rules

2) Particulars or other rules

Basic or Fundamental Rules

Basic or Fundamental Rules are discussed in the sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of Order VI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Summarising the provision, the basic rules of pleadings are the following:

Facts should be pleaded upon and not the law

This was first held in the case Kedar Lal v. Hari Lal where it was held that the parties are under the duty to state the facts on which they are claiming their compensation. The court shall apply the law as per the stated facts to render the judgement. One should not assert or apply any laws for claiming right on the stated facts.

Material facts should be pleaded

The second basic rule is to present facts which are material only. Immaterial facts shall not be considered. The question arose in the court of law that what is the actual scope of ‘material facts’. It was decided by the judge in the case Union of India v. Sita Ram that material facts will be inclusive of all those facts upon which the plaintiff’s counsel will claim damages or rights as the case may be or the defendant will put forth his defence. In nutshell, facts which will form the basis for claiming a right or compensation by the plaintiff or prove the defendant’s defence in the written statement will fall under the ambit of being ‘material’.

Evidence should not be included while pleading

It says that pleadings should contain a statement of material facts on which the party relies but not the evidence by which those facts are to be proved.[2]

There are two types of facts :

  • Facts probanda : the facts which need to be proved, i.e material facts
  • Facts probantia: facts by which a case is to be proved, i.e evidence

Only facts probanda should form the part of pleadings and not facts probantia. The material facts on which the plaintiff relies for his claim or the defendant relies for his defence are called facta probanda, and they must be stated in the plaint or in the written statement, as the case may be.[3]

Facts in concise manner should be presented

This is the last and final basic rule of pleadings. Compressed and crisp presentation must be adhered while presenting the pleadings. At the same time it must be kept in mind that in order to maintain brevity of facts one should not miss out on important facts in the pleadings. Pleadings can be saved from superfluity if one takes care in syntax.

Particulars or other rules

  1. Particulars with dates and items should be stated wherever fraud, misrepresentation, breach of trust, undue influence or wilful default are pleaded in the pleadings.
  2. Generally departure from pleading is not permissible, and except by way of amendment, no party can raise any ground of claim or contain any allegation of fact inconsistent with his previous pleadings.
  3. Non-performance of a condition precedent should be specifically mentioned in the pleadings. Performance of the same shall not form a part of the pleadings since it is already implied.
  4. If the opposite party denies a contract, it will be held as denial of the facts of the contract and not its validity, enforceability and legality.
  5. Wherever malice, fraudulent intention, knowledge or other condition of the mind of a person is material, it may be alleged in the pleading only as a fact without setting out the circumstances from which it is to be inferred.
  6. Unless the facts are material, there is no need for the facts to be stated in verbatim.
  7. Pleadings should only state the giving of a notice, when it is required to give a notice or condition precedent, without disclosing the form or manner of such notice or giving details of any circumstances from which the form of notice can be determined, unless the same is material.
  8. Implied relations between persons or contracts can be alleged as facts and the series of conversations, letters and the circumstances from which they are to be inferred should be pleaded generally.
  9. The facts which deals with onus of proof or which favours a party shall not be pleaded.
  10. Every pleading should be signed by the party or one of the parties or by his pleader.
  11. A party to the suit shall provide with his and the opposite party’s address.
  12. Each and every pleading need to be approved by making an affidavit by the party or a person who is acquainted by the facts stated in the pleading.
  13. A pleading may be ordered to be strike out by a court of law, if it feels the same is scandalous, frivolous, unnecessary or intended towards embarrassing, prejudicing or delaying a fair trial in the court.
  14. Amendment of pleadings shall be allowed by the court
  15. The pleadings shall be divided in proper paragraphs whenever required, consecutively numbered and structured properly. Every argument or allegations must be in separate paragraphs. Dates, sums and any totals shall be expressed in figures as well as in words so as to maintain clarity for the judge as well as the parties concerned in the trial.
  16. Forms in Appendix A of the Code should be used wherever they are applicable. Where they are not applicable, forms of like nature should be used.

Amendment of Pleadings

Rules 17 and 18 of Order VI of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 deal with amendment of pleading. These provisions aim towards achieving justice in the society. Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides either parties may be ordered to amend or alter his pleading at any stage of the proceeding in such manner which shall be fair and just and allow amendment when necessary so as to determine the exact controversial question between the parties.

On the other hand Rule 18 deals with the issue of failure of amending the pleading. It deals with the law that if court orders a party to make necessary and if he fails to do the same within the given time limit given by the order or if no time is limited then within 14 days from the date of the order, he shall not be permitted to amend after the expiration of such limited time as aforesaid or of such 14 days, as the case may be, unless the time is extended by the Court.

Conclusion

Pleadings form the backbone of any legal suit. The case is set out in the pleading. It guides the parties to form the arguments and know the contentions of the other party so as to frame claims or defence by either party respectively. It is guidance in the whole journey of the suit. They also determine the range of admissible evidence which the parties should adduce at the trial. The Code of Civil Procedure lays down the fundamental rules of pleadings along with the amendments to the same. These provisions are aimed to strike a balance in the society and to achieve the ultimate ends of justice.

[1] Legal Provisions of Order VI of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (C.P.C.), India – Pleadings Generally. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.shareyouressays.com/knowledge/legal-provisions-of-order-vi-of-code-of-civil-procedure-1908-c-p-c-india-pleadings-generally/114328

[2]Pleadings : its rules and amendment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://legaldesire.com/pleadings-rules-amendments/

[3] Pleadings : its rules and amendment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://legaldesire.com/pleadings-rules-amendments/

Did you find this blog post helpful? Subscribe so that you never miss another post! Just complete this form…

3 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY