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Rules of Pleadings in CPC

Updated: May 5


Rules Of Pleading in CPC


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Defining 'Pleading' in CPC


"Pleading" is defined as the plaint or written statement in legal terms. According to Mogha, pleadings refer to written statements prepared and submitted by each party involved in a case.


These statements outline the contentions that each party will present at the trial, providing all necessary details for their opponent to prepare their case in response.


For a plaintiff, their pleading takes the form of the plaint, which is a statement of claim where they articulate their cause of action along with all relevant particulars.


Conversely, for a defendant, their pleading is their written statement, serving as a defence where they address each material fact asserted by the plaintiff in the plaint.


Additionally, the defendant may introduce any new facts that support their position, along with raising any legal objections they wish to present against the claim.


In cases where the defendant includes a set-off in their written statement, the plaintiff has the option to respond with their own written statement addressing it.


Moreover, there are instances where the defendant, after submitting their initial written statement, may seek court permission to file an additional written statement.

 
 

Object and Importance of Pleadings


The primary objective of pleadings is to delineate definite issues between parties, thereby reducing expense, delay, and preventing surprise during trial. Pleadings serve to ensure that each party is fully aware of the case presented by their opponent, enabling them to adequately prepare and present their arguments.


Essentially, the purpose of pleadings is to clarify the actual disputes between the parties, narrowing down areas of conflict and preventing either party from catching the other off guard, thus ensuring fair and just proceedings.


In the influential case of Throp v. Holdsworth, Jessel, M.R. emphasised that the essence of pleadings is to bring parties to a clear issue, preventing ambiguity that could hinder a fair trial.


Lord Halsbury, in Sayad Muhammad v. Fatteh Muhammad, reiterated the importance of pleadings in ensuring that each side is fully informed of the arguments to be debated, allowing them to present relevant evidence accordingly.


Similarly, the Supreme Court, in Ganesh Trading Co. v. Moji Ram, stressed that the purpose of pleading provisions is to provide both parties with an understanding of each other's case, enabling the court to identify the real issues in dispute and maintain the integrity of the litigation process.


Further, in Virendra Kashinath v. Vinayak N. Joshi, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the aim of pleadings is twofold: to inform the opposing side of the specific facts being asserted and to assist the court in determining the true issues between the parties.


Pleadings play a crucial role throughout the entirety of the litigation process, not solely confined to defining issues for the court's final decision at trial. They serve as a roadmap for conducting the trial, indicating which party bears the burden of proof and has the right to open the case.


Pleadings also delineate the scope of admissible evidence that parties may present during the trial and establish limits on the relief that the court can grant. Essentially, pleadings form the foundation of litigation.


It's a well-established legal principle that parties must plead their case and support it with sufficient evidence. Incomplete pleadings may result in the court disregarding pleas raised by the party.


Every litigant is expected to uphold truthfulness before the court, whether in pleadings, affidavits, or evidence. Dishonest litigants who introduce false assertions or denials should be mindful that such actions can impact the court's decision-making process.




Basic Rules of Pleadings

Fact and Not Law

The fundamental principle governing pleadings is the requirement to state facts rather than law. Parties are obligated to present only the facts upon which they base their claims, leaving it to the court to apply the relevant legal principles to those facts. Succinctly put, the essence of pleading can be encapsulated in the phrase "Plead facts not law."


For instance, the assertion of a custom or usage constitutes a factual matter that must be expressly pleaded.


Similarly, matters such as intention, waiver, or negligence are factual issues that demand explicit mention in the pleadings.


Conversely, arguments concerning the maintainability of the suit pertain to questions of law and thus do not necessitate pleading.


Considerations of Hindu law, like the obligation of Hindu sons to settle their father's debts, need not be detailed in the pleading. Similarly, legal consequences stemming from established facts and inferences drawn from those facts need not be explicitly stated in the pleadings.


Courts traditionally evaluate and address the legal ramifications arising from the pleaded facts, even if these specific outcomes are not expressly articulated in the pleadings.


The rationale underlying this principle is that judges are obligated to apply the correct legal principles, regardless of any erroneous legal assertions made by the parties.


However, when a matter involves a combination of law and fact, or when a legal point must be supported by factual evidence, it is imperative to plead both the legal contention and the relevant facts accordingly.

 
 

Material Facts


The second principle of pleadings emphasises the importance of including only material facts in the pleadings.


While the term "material facts" lacks a precise definition in the Code of Civil Procedure, it generally refers to those facts upon which the plaintiff's cause of action or the defendant's defence hinges.


In simpler terms, material facts are the primary facts that must be proven during the trial to establish the existence of a cause of action or a defence.


The Supreme Court, in various judgments, has provided clarity on the concept of material facts. In Udhav Singh v. Madhav Rao Scindia, the Court defined material facts as "all the primary facts which must be proved at the trial by a party to establish the existence of a cause of action or his defence."


Similarly, in Virender Nath v. Satpal Singh, it was stated that material facts are those upon which a party relies for their claim or defence.


It's essential to distinguish between material facts and particulars. Material facts are the fundamental and essential facts that form the basis of the case presented by a party. Failure to plead material facts can lead to the dismissal of the suit.


Particulars, on the other hand, refer to the details that elaborate on the material facts, providing more context and specificity. While material facts are crucial for understanding the core of the case, particulars add depth and clarity to the overall narrative.


Facts Not Evidence


The third principle of pleadings underscores that only the material facts, or "facta probanda," need to be pleaded, while the evidence by which those facts are to be proven, known as "facta probantia," need not be included in the pleadings.


In simpler terms, facta probanda are the essential facts that form the basis of a party's claim or defence, and they must be stated in the plaint or written statement. On the other hand, facta probantia refer to the evidence or particulars by which the material facts are to be proven at trial.


While facta probanda must be pleaded, facta probantia need not be mentioned in the pleadings.


To clarify further, facta probanda are what the parties rely on to support their case, while facta probantia are the means through which they intend to prove those material facts.


By adhering to this principle, the pleadings focus on the core issues of the case without delving into the specific evidence or particulars required for proving those facts.


Concise Form

The fourth and final general principle of pleadings emphasises the importance of drafting pleadings with brevity and precision. Pleadings should succinctly and clearly state the material facts without ambiguity.


A specific pleading is crucial because it ensures that the defendant knows precisely what case they have to answer. Vague pleadings leave the defendant guessing and at a disadvantage, which is why precision and clarity are essential.


Parties shouldn't keep their options open until the trial and then introduce evidence that conveniently suits their case.


While brevity is encouraged, it should not come at the expense of excluding necessary facts. Care should be taken to ensure that pleadings are concise yet comprehensive.


Each allegation should be presented in a separate paragraph, and the use of paragraphs and sub-paragraphs helps organise the content effectively.

 
 

Other Rules of Pleadings


1. When allegations of misrepresentation, fraud, breach of trust, willful default, or undue influence are made in the pleadings, it's essential to provide specific particulars, including dates and items.


This requirement ensures clarity and precision in framing the issues and allows the opposing party to respond effectively.


The Supreme Court, in the case of Bishundeo Narain v. Seogeni Rais, emphasised the importance of providing full particulars when alleging fraud, undue influence, or coercion. The court highlighted that such allegations must be supported by specific details, and evidence presented must align with these particulars.


Generalised or vague allegations are insufficient, even if the language used is strong. Courts rely on specific particulars to adjudicate cases involving these serious matters effectively.


2. Condition Precedent: The performance of a condition precedent is implied in pleadings, while non-performance must be explicitly pleaded.


3. Consistency in Pleading: Generally, parties cannot depart from their pleadings without amending them.


4. Denial of Contract: A mere denial of a contract by the opposing party is taken as a denial of its existence, not its legality, validity, or enforceability.


5. Documents: Documents need not be reproduced verbatim in pleadings unless the words therein are material to the case.


6. Allegations of Malice or Fraudulent Intent: Allegations regarding malice, fraudulent intention, or other mental states need only be stated as facts without detailing the circumstances unless they are material.


7. Notice Requirements: When notice to any person is necessary, pleadings should only mention the giving of notice without specifying its form or terms unless they are material.


8. Implied Contracts or Relations: Implied contracts or relations may be alleged as facts, with the relevant series of letters, conversations, and circumstances pleaded generally.


9. Presumed Facts: Facts presumed by law in favour of a party or for which the burden of proof lies on the other side need not be pleaded.


10. Signature and Address: Every pleading should be signed by the party or their pleader and should include the party's address.


11. Verification: Every pleading should be verified by affidavit, either by the party or someone familiar with the case's facts.


Alternative and Inconsistent Pleadings


"Alternative" signifies a choice between two possibilities, allowing a litigant to present multiple sets of facts and seek relief based on each.


Conversely, "inconsistent" denotes assertions that conflict or oppose one another, rendering them mutually exclusive. Within the realm of litigation, adopting one position necessarily negates the other.


In legal parlance, the inclusion of alternative pleadings enables parties to assert various claims or defences, promoting flexibility and efficiency in resolving disputes.


Lindley, L.J. aptly noted the importance of this practice, emphasising the need for litigants to navigate uncertainties in presenting their cases.


The underlying rationale behind permitting alternative pleas and reliefs is to facilitate comprehensive resolution within a single litigation, thereby averting the need for successive legal battles.


For instance, a property dispute may be framed alternatively on the basis of ownership or lease rights, offering different avenues for adjudication.


Similarly, tenants facing eviction may contest on grounds of personal need or non-payment of rent. Likewise, petitions concerning specific performance may also include alternative claims for damages.


  • Even in matters as sensitive as marital discord, where restitution of conjugal rights is sought, parties may concurrently pursue divorce as an alternative remedy.


  • While the law does not prohibit the assertion of inconsistent allegations, courts view them with caution.


Presenting conflicting pleas poses risks, particularly when supporting evidence contradicts each other, undermining the credibility of the case.


Moreover, any inconsistent pleas must align with legal principles to be deemed valid. For instance, a plaintiff cannot simultaneously seek the annulment of a contract and its specific performance.


Such inconsistencies may be subject to court intervention, including the striking out of prejudicial material.


Furthermore, once a party adopts a particular stance and receives a judicial ruling, they cannot later adopt a contradictory position on the same issue.


This principle prevents litigants from exploiting legal outcomes to their advantage while disavowing unfavourable judgments.

 
 

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