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Amendment of Pleadings in CPC

Updated: May 5


Understanding Of Pleading

It is imperative that material facts and necessary particulars are clearly stated in the pleadings, and decisions should not be grounded on matters outside of these pleadings.

However, there are instances where a party may find it essential to amend their pleadings either before or during the trial.

This need for amendment could arise due to various reasons such as the emergence of new information, complete responses to interrogatories by the opposing party, or the disclosure of previously unknown documents that necessitate adjustments to one's claim or defence.

Additionally, if valid objections are raised by the opponent regarding the pleadings, it would be prudent for the party to promptly amend their pleadings to address these concerns before it becomes too late.


Order VI Rule 17 of Code of Civil Procedure

Rule 17 grants the authority for amending pleadings and is stated as follows:

"The Court retains the discretion to permit either party to modify or revise their pleadings at any stage of the proceedings, in a manner and under conditions deemed just. All amendments should serve the purpose of elucidating the genuine issues in dispute between the parties.

However, no request for amendment shall be entertained after the commencement of the trial, except if the Court determines that despite diligent efforts, the matter could not have been raised prior to trial."

The objective of this Rule is to ensure that courts adjudicate on the merits of cases brought before them. Consequently, courts should allow amendments necessary for clarifying the real disputes between the parties, provided such amendments do not cause injustice or prejudice to the opposing side.

Ultimately, courts exist to administer justice rather than to punish parties, and they possess the authority to grant amendments to pleadings in the interest of rendering complete justice to all parties. Provisions for amending pleadings are intended to advance the cause of justice rather than hinder it.

When deciding on an application for amendment of pleadings, the court should generally not reject genuine, honest, and essential amendments. Conversely, it should disallow amendments that are malicious, dishonest, or unnecessary.

The Privy Council has aptly remarked, "All court rules are designed to ensure the proper administration of justice. Therefore, they must serve and be subservient to this purpose.

The power to amend should be generously exercised, but no power has been granted to substitute one distinct cause of action for another or to alter the subject matter of the suit through amendment."

Leave To Amend When Granted

The rule grants courts broad discretion concerning the amendment of pleadings. As a general principle, permission to amend will be granted to ensure that the true issue between the parties is properly addressed in the pleadings, provided that the amendment does not cause harm to the opposing party and can be adequately compensated for through costs or other terms stipulated by the court order.

The following remarks by Batchelor, J. in the case of Kisandas v. Rachappa Vithoba establish sound legal principles:

"All amendments that meet two criteria should be permitted: firstly, they should not unjustly prejudice the other party, and secondly, they should be necessary for determining the actual disputes between the parties."

Therefore, before a party is permitted to amend their pleading, two main considerations must be taken into account: firstly, whether the amendment is essential for resolving the real dispute between the parties; and secondly, whether the amendment can be allowed without causing injustice to the opposing party.

Before a court allows an amendment, it must first ascertain whether such a change is indispensable for resolving the actual dispute between the parties. If this criterion isn't met, the court should deny the amendment.

Conversely, if the amendment is crucial for determining the "real controversy" between the parties, it should be permitted, even if the court doubts the party's ability to substantiate the amended plea.

This fundamental test governs the court's discretionary authority to amend pleadings. Amendments should not be permitted if they fail to meet this pivotal criterion.

For instance, it has been established that amendments sought to prevent multiple suits, rectify misdescriptions of parties in the complaint, include inadvertently omitted properties, correct errors in stating the cause of action, address genuine omissions in the allegations in the complaint, or rectify misapplications of laws should not be allowed if they do not meet this cardinal test.

The second condition is equally significant; no amendment should be permitted if it would unfairly prejudice the opposing party.

However, it is well-established that an amendment can be allowed if it can be made without causing injustice to the other side. Yet, it remains a fundamental principle that "no injustice is incurred if the opposing side can be compensated through costs."


Leave To Amend When Refused

While courts possess significant discretion in allowing amendments to pleadings, this discretion, like any legal power, must be exercised judiciously, reasonably, and without arbitrariness.

As emphasised by the Supreme Court in Ganga Bai v. Vijay Kumar, while the power to permit amendments is wide and can be exercised at any stage in the interest of justice, it must be guided by judicial considerations, with greater care and circumspection exercised by the court due to the breadth of discretion involved.

Typically, the court may refuse leave to amend in the following scenarios:

  1. When the proposed amendment is not essential for determining the actual dispute between the parties. The court's primary duty is to ascertain whether the amendment is necessary to address the real controversy. If the amendment lacks necessity, substance, or is merely technical or useless, it will likely be denied. The case of Edevain v. Cohen illustrates this point, where an application to amend a written statement to plead a judgement as a bar to the suit was rejected because it did not address the core issue in controversy but rather sought to exploit a technical legal rule.

  1. When the proposed amendment introduces a completely new and inconsistent case or fundamentally alters the nature of the suit or defence. This situation arises when the amendment seeks to present a radically different argument or contradicts the original claim or defence.

  1. Leave to amend will be refused where the effect of the proposed amendment is to take away from the other side a legal right accrued in his favour.

  1. Leave to amend will be refused where the application for amendment is not made in good faith

Merits Not To Be Considered

When determining whether to permit or reject an application for amendment, the court should refrain from assessing the validity or accuracy of the case proposed in the amendment.

"The merits of the amendment sought to be introduced through the amendment should not be evaluated at the stage of granting the request for amendment."


The provisions concerning the amendment of pleadings should be interpreted liberally to serve the interests of justice rather than obstruct them.

The objective of pleading rules is to resolve the genuine disputes between the parties, not to penalise them for errors, negligence, or deficiencies.

The exercise of discretionary power must be guided by judicial considerations, and the broader the discretion, the more cautious and deliberate the approach should be.

In general, the following principles should be considered when addressing applications for amending pleadings:

1. All amendments necessary for determining the actual disputes in the case should be permitted.

2. The proposed amendment should not deviate from or substitute the original cause of action upon which the initial dispute was based.

3. Inconsistent or contradictory allegations that negate admitted facts or present mutually destructive claims should not be allowed through amendment.

4. Proposed amendments should not unfairly prejudice the opposing party in a manner that cannot be rectified through costs.

5. Amendments seeking to revive a claim or relief barred by the statute of limitations should not be permitted.

6. No amendment should be allowed if it would deprive the opposing party of a legal right due to the passage of time.

7. Parties should not suffer due to legal technicalities, and amendments should be allowed to minimise litigation between them.

8. Costs should be used to compensate for any prejudice caused by amendments that are ultimately allowed.

9. The mere existence of a technical defect should not be sufficient grounds for rejecting an application to amend pleadings.


At Any Stage of the Proceedings

Leave to amend may be granted at any stage of the legal proceedings without being constrained by any statute of limitations.

Such applications for amendment can be made before, during, or after the trial, as well as during various stages of appeal, revision, or execution proceedings, provided that the decree being amended is valid, lawful, and enforceable.

However, the proviso to Rule 17, introduced by the Amendment Act of 2002, imposes limitations on the court's discretion.

It stipulates that the court should not permit such amendments after the commencement of the trial unless it is convinced that, despite the party's due diligence, the matter could not have been raised before the trial began.

Amendment After Commencement of Trial

The proviso to Rule 17, introduced by the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2002, imposes restrictions on the court's authority to permit amendments to pleadings.

It stipulates that no application for amendment should be granted after the trial has begun unless the court determines that, despite the party's due diligence, the matter for which the amendment is sought could not have been raised before the trial commenced.

Courts have interpreted this proviso as requiring the application of a "due diligence" test. The court must ascertain whether, despite the party's diligent efforts, they could not have discovered the grounds for the proposed amendment.

The term "due diligence" is specifically included in the Code to establish a criterion for deciding whether to exercise discretion in situations where an amendment is requested after the trial has commenced.


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