Indian Jurisprudence has developed a comprehensive and exhaustive procedural framework for giving effect to the substantive provisions established by law. The procedure has been tailored based on several factors among which, the nature of the wrong alleged is of prominence. Accordingly, criminal offences are governed by Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred as ‘CrPC’) and civil disputes are governed by Civil Procedure Code 1908 (hereinafter referred as ‘CPC’). In the latter matter, the suit is initiated under Section 26 of CPC by filing a Plaint which is defended by filing a Written Statement. The Defendant refutes and denies the averments made by the Plaintiff through her Written Statement. The present Article aims to provide a succinct overview of the concept of Plaint and Written Statement along with their integral contents, governing provisions, and grounds for rejection enunciated with landmark cases.
A Plaint is a legal document that is filed by the Plaintiff before the court of competent jurisdiction explaining the material facts of the matter from the plaintiff’s perspective and seeking for an appropriate legal remedy. A Plaint is only to be filed in a civil suit and its filing marks the initiation of a civil suit against the defendant as has been expressly stated in Section 26 of CPC. The Plaint is governed and guided by the provisions envisaged under the Order 7 of the CPC. Drafting a good plaint that is crisp and clear in its factual delivery and not superfluous in the remedy sought is widely considered a hallmark of impeccable draftsmanship. In order to cultivate the skill of drafting an exemplary Plaint, comprehension of its contents is crucial.
REQUISITE CONTENTS OF A PLAINT
As the Plaint forms the very bedrock of a suit, it is essential that all the necessary contents are included without failure. Rule 1-8 of Order 7 of CPC envisages the following requisites that are to be included:
- The name of the civil or commercial court that has been approached must be clearly mentioned.
- The name, address and others details that describe the Plaintiff who has filed the Plaint.
- The name, address and other details that describe the Defendant against whom the Plaint has been filed.
- If the Plaintiff is suffering from any health problem or disability, the same must be brought to the notice of the court by specifically mentioning the same in the Plaint filed.
- Where the Plaintiff is a minor or of unsound mind, the same shall be brought to the notice of the court through a statement.
- The cause action and the facts that led to the arising of such a cause of action must be explained along with the details of when and where it arose.
- The jurisdiction and the facts that led to the identification of such jurisdiction must be included.
- The prayer which seeks the reliefs is also a significant part of the Plaint.
- In case the Plaintiff is willing to set off, the Plaintiff must mention the exact amount sought to be set off.
- A statement of valuation of the subject matter of the suit must be mentioned in order to determine the competent court for hearing the case as well as for determining the ad valorem court fees.
- Where the Plaintiff is instituting a suit for the recovery of money, the exact amount to be recovered is to be stated unless mesne profits or amount which cannot be accurately determined despite exercise of reasonable diligence is being claimed. In the latter circumstances, an approximate estimate of the amount is to be stated.
- Where the bone of contention in a suit is an immovable property, a description of the property must be stated including its boundaries and any numbers assigned for identification.
- When the Plaintiff sues in representative capacity, she is required to portray an actual existing interest as well as fulfillment of necessary steps for filing the suit in the Plaint.
- The Plaint is also required to show the interest and liability of the Defendant in the subject matter of the suit.
- In the event of the Plaint having been filed after the expiry of the limitation period, the Plaintiff is also required to substantiate the ground for claiming exemption from the bar placed by expiry of limitation period.
- Conclusively, the Plaint shall also contain an Affidavit deposed by the Plaintiff that all the allegations and averments made by her are true to the best of her knowledge. Such a practice is adopted to confer sanctity to the documents filed before the court of law as well as to reduce false and frivolous complaints. Thereby, it was made mandatory through the Amendment of 2002 by incorporation of Section 26(2) and Order 6 Rule 15(4) of CPC, 1908.
GROUNDS FOR REJECTION OF A PLAINT
In order to ensure that the courts are not inundated with false and frivolous Plaints concerning mundane trivialities, the courts of law have been conferred with the power to reject a Plaint which has been envisaged in Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC, 1908. There are two modes for causing rejection of a Plaint:
- The defendant may submit an interlocutory application for rejection of Plaint at any stage of the procedure.
- The Court may suo moto reject a Plaint in case of non-compliance with the provisions established by the CPC, 1908.
The grounds for rejection of a Plaint are as follows:
- Where the Plaintiff has failed to show the requisite cause of action in a Plaint. (Order 7 Rule 11(a))
- Where the relief claimed by the Plaintiff in the Plaint is undervalued. (Order 7 Rule 11(b))
- Where the Plaint submitted by the Plaintiff has not been properly stamped.
- Where the Plaint is barred by any Statute.
- Where the Plaintiff fails to adduce a duplicate copy of the Plaint along with the original Plaint.
- In case of non-compliance with the procedure to be followed by the Plaintiff after the suit has been admitted as has been envisaged under Order 7 Rule 9 of the CPC, 1908.
While hearing an application for rejection of Plaint filed by the Respondents in Dahiben v. Arvindbhai Kalyanji Bhanushali, The Hon’ble Apex Court observed that the Plaint which had been brought by the Plaintiffs 5 years after the execution of Sale deed for non-payment of full sale consideration was barred by limitation and thereby rejected the Plaint at threshold. Further in the case of K. Roja v. U.S. Rayudu, The Hon’ble Court has further strengthened the right of the defendant to file an application for rejection of Order 7 Rule 11 at any stage of proceedings while disposing off an application for rejection of Election Petition. Furthermore, in Kalepu Pala Subrahmanyam v. Tiguti Venkata, The Honourable Andhra High Court while hearing a suit filed in forma pauperis for recovery of possession of Plaint schedule property held that a Plaint cannot be rejected in part and must be rejected wholly.
A Written Statement constitutes a reply filed by the defendant against the Plaint filed by the Plaintiff. The defendant seeks to specifically deny the averments made by the Plaintiff by stating the material facts in her perspective, stating a new fact or by stating legal objections against the allegations made by the Plaintiff. A defendant or an agent of the defendant who has been duly authorized is eligible to file a Written Statement. Where the Plaint is filed against two or defendants, a common Written Statement may be filed if it is signed by all the defendants. A Written Statement is to be filed within the expiry of a period of 30 days which can be further extended to 90 days. However, reasons for such extension are to be duly recorded. The procedural intricacies of Written Statement are dealt with under Order 8 of CPC, 1908.
CONTENTS OF A WRITTEN STATEMENT
- The Written Statement must contain all the documents based on which the Defendant denies allegations or states new facts in his pleadings.
- New facts, if any, that are pleaded by the Defendant must be specifically pleaded in the Written Statement in the interest of justice, equity and convenience.
- The Defendant must specifically deny each fact or allegations made by the Plaintiff which she does not intend to admit or it must be denied by necessary implication. In the event of failure to deny specifically, the fact will be taken to be admitted by the defendant.
- The defendant’s denial should not be evasive but must be denied in substance.
- Where the defendant relies upon separate and district facts in the matters such as set off, the Defendant shall state it separately and distinctly as far as possible.
- Additional ground of defense pleaded by the Defendant must be taken up prior to the commencement of proceedings. No pleading can be filed after the filing of Written Statement other than a defense of set-off without the leave of the Court of law. If the Defendant seeks to file an additional Written Statement, she is required to show clearly the reasons due to which she failed to mention the same in the original Written Statement.
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE TO FILE A WRITTEN STATEMENT
- The Written Statement constitutes an account of the Defendant’s perspective of the facts and provides an opportunity to the Defendant to bring her denial of allegations mounted by the Plaintiff before the Court of law. However, if the Defendant does not present a Written Statement before the Court, the Court may decide the matter being heard based solely upon the facts and allegations contained in the Plaint. However, an exception is made with regard to a Defendant with a disability, provided that it can be proved to the Court.
- Even when the Defendant fails to file the Written Statement within the expiry of statutory period, the Court may pass an order that it deems fit without considering the Written Statement.
Accordingly while dealing with a commercial suit, in the case of M/s SCG Contracts India Pvt Ltd v. M/s Chamankar Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., The Hon’ble Apex Court held that filing of a Written Statement is mandatory within a maximum of 120 days from the date on which summons are served upon Defendants in commercial suits. However, in the case of Binda Prasad v. United Bank of India Ltd. & Ors., The Honourable Patna High Court allowed the Petitioners to file the Written Statement while holding that Written Statement need not be rejected as a rule when it has been filed long after the settlement of issues.
Therefore, a cursory comprehension of the provisions concerned with Plaint and Written Statement reveals that they form the bedrock of Civil law and its practice and procedure. Both these legal documents imbibe the principles of audi alteram partem by providing sufficient opportunity to both the Plaintiff as well as Respondent to present the matter before the Court from their respective perspectives. The provisions have also pertinently accommodated certain safeguards against false, frivolous and trivial litigations such as maintenance of a strict approach regarding the statutory period of admitting such documents. Consequently, the provisions seek to achieve a delicate balance between the rights of the litigants and protections against abuse of process of law.
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Aaptax.com, Order VII CPC Plaint- Rule 1,2,3,4,5,6 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, AAPTAX.COM,https://www.aaptaxlaw.com/code-of-civil-procedure/order-VII-code-of-civil-procedure-rule-1-2-3-4-5-6-plaint-1-2-3-4-5-6-order-VII-of-cpc-1908-code-of-civil-procedure.html.
 Abdul Kareem v. Mehroof Manalody, O.P(C) No. 2148 of 2016 (India).
 K Thakshinamoorthy v. State Bank of India, AIR 2001 Mad 167(India).
Suryansh Verma, Order 7 Rule 11: Grounds for Rejection of a Plaint, IPLEADERS(Aug. 16, 2019),https://blog.ipleaders.in/order-7-rule-11/#:~:text=A%20plaint%20can%20be%20rejected,the%20Code%20of%20Civil%20Procedure.
 Dahiben v. Arvindbhai Kalyanji Bhanushali, 2020 SCCOnline SC 562 (India).
 Ankoosh Mehta, Siddharth Ratho & Maithreyi Jain, Supreme Court sets out object and purpose of Order VII Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, INDIAN CORPORATE LAW(Aug. 13, 2020),https://corporate.cyrilamarchandblogs.com/2020/08/supreme-court-sets-out-object-and-purpose-of-order-vii-rule-11-of-the-code-of-civil-procedure-1908/.
 K. Roja v. U S Rayudu, S.L.P (C) No. 15474 of 2016 (India).
 STA Law Firm, Grounds for rejection of the Plaint: Civil Procedure Code, MONDAQ(Mar.02, 2020)https://www.mondaq.com/india/civil-law/899112/grounds-for-rejection-of-the-plaint-civil-procedure-code.
 Kalepu Pala Subrahmanyam v. Tiguti Venkata Peddiraju, AIR 1971 AP 313(India).
 Naresh Kumar, Written Statement- Order 8 of CPC, Meaning, Rules, Particulars, Time limit etc.,LAW NOTES 4 U(Sept.22,2018),https://www.lawnotes4u.in/2018/09/written-statement-order-8-of-cpc-meaning-rules-time-particulars-etc.html.
 Lawnn, Civil Procedure Code-Written Statement, Set-off and Counter Claim, LAWNN(May 20, 2017),https://www.lawnn.com/civil-procedure-code-written-statement-set-off-counter-claim/.
 M/s SCG Contracts India Pvt. Ltd. vs. M/s KS Chamankar Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., C.A. No. 1638/2019, (India).
 Abhishekh Kumar & Siddharth Pandey, Time Limit for Filing Written Statement: Mandatory or Directory, LEXOLOGY(Apr.19,2020),https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=47619ebd-1a6b-4838-b171-d8e3eeb7f71f.
 Binda Prasad v. United Bank of India & Ors.,AIR 1961 Pat 152 (India).
Authored By: Vrinda Bhandarkar, 8th Sem, SDM Law College, Mangalore.