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Amendment of Pleadings Under CPC

Introduction

Pleadings are statements in writing delivered by both the parties involved in the litigation namely, the defendant and plaintiff. Pleadings are delivered by parties to present their contentions in the trial by giving required details, as defined in order VI rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The pleading can either be a plaint or a written statement filed in a civil court. Plaint is filed by the plaintiff which contains material facts to prove his claim and a written statement is delivered by the defendant to respond to the plaint within 30 days from the date of issuance of the summons by the court.

The amendment of pleadings aims to meet the end of justice and to determine the real questions of conflict between the parties. The objective of the amendment of pleadings is to correct the mistakes made in the pleading and protect the rights of the parties instead of punishing them for committing mistakes in pleading. The amendment of pleadings allows parties to make required changes before the commencement of the trial. The commencement of trial means when the issues were framed and the other party has filed an affidavit for the examination of the witness.

Different Kinds of Amendment of Pleadings

The amendment of pleadings can be done in 6 different ways, namely

  1. Amendment for clerical and arithmetical mistakes in judgment, decree, or order under Section 152 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
  2. Amendment of proceeding in a suit by the court to determine the real question or issues between the parties under Section 153 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908.
  3. Amendment for striking out or adding parties in a dispute under Order 1, Rule 10 r(2) of Civil Code Procedure, 1908.
  4. Amendment for adding a legal representative of the deceased party under Order 22, Rule 3 and 4.
  5. Amendment for opponent pleading or compulsory amendment under Order 6 and Rule 16.
  6. Amendment for own pleading or a voluntary pleading under Order 6 Rule 17.

Amendment of Pleadings [1]

The Court may allow either of the parties to amend their pleadings before the commencement of trial to determine the real questions in controversy between the parties and ensure the delivery of justice to both parties. The court shall not accept any application for amendment of pleadings after the commencement of trial unless the court concluded that despite due diligence, the parties in the conflict failed to raise the matter before the commencement of the trial.

Amendment of pleadings is defined in Order 6, Rule 17 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. To discourage mala fide intentions, inconvenience caused to the opposite party, or to avoid arbitrarily amending of pleading, the court imposes a cost to the intended party for the amendment of the pleading. It helps to compensate the other party and mark a penalty for showing negligence while drafting the original pleading.

Procedure for Amendment of Pleadings

The procedure to apply the amendments of pleading[2]:

  1. Either of the parties who are willing to amend their pleading is required to write an application for amendment of pleadings to the concerned civil court and present the application before the concerned judge.
  2. The applicant has to pay the prescribed court fees under the Court Fees Act, 1870.
  3. The applicant needs to communicate the required reason for the amendment in pleading.
  4. Now, the judge in its discretion evaluates the application on the grounds of whether the amendment is necessary to determine the real questions of controversy between the party, and whether considering the amendment is necessary to deliver justice to both parties.
  5. After getting an approval order from the court, the applicant needs to file the new pleading within the prescribed time limit or before 14 days from the release of the order.
  6. The applicant needs to submit a copy of the amended pleading to the opposite party.

Grounds for the Rejection of Amendment Grant

The court’s discretion is certainly a subjective case while determining the issues beforehand, but the discretion of the court might be subjected to abuse in the hand of the judiciary. The amendment of pleadings[3] might be rejected on certain grounds by the Hon’ble court. The application for the amendment of pleadings is rejected when the amendment is not necessary to determine the real question in controversy between parties. The application is rejected when the amendment leads to the introduction of a completely new case. When the plaintiff or defendant is negligent while delivering their written submissions, then the amendment of pleadings is subjected to rejection from the court. When the amendment is unjust, arbitrary, and causes injustice to either of the parties, the application for amendment shall be rejected by the court. The application for amendment is rejected, when the amendment is resulted in excessive delay and changes the nature of the dispute. The application is rejected on the grounds of mala fide intentions and wasting the valuable time of the court.

Case Laws

In the case of Cropper V. Smith, the court held that the objective behind the amendment of pleadings is to protect the rights of the parties and not to punish them for committing mistakes in the pleading. It is inferred from the judgment that the amendment of pleadings aims to avoid the pendency of cases and allow parties to amend their pleadings to include necessary material facts.

In the case of Vidyabai V. Padmalatha, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the date on which the issues are framed as the date of the first hearing, whereas filing of an affidavit to the examination-in-chief of a witness would amount to commencement of a trial.

In the case of Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal V. K.K. Modi and others, the court held that the case should be tried on merit and should allow the amendment of pleadings in the cases where these amendments determine the real question in controversies between parties and it does not cause injustice to either of the parties.

In the case of Smt. Ganga Bai V. Vijay Kumar, the Supreme Court held that the amendment of plaint at any stage must be exercised in the interest of the justice. Similarly, in M/s Ganesh Trading Co. V. Maoji Ram, the Supreme Court held that the amendment is necessary to meet both the end of justice and not to defeat the purpose of the law.

Conclusion

The amendment of pleadings is an effective instrument to avoid delay in delivering justice to an aggrieved party. It is important to note that the Amendment of pleading is subjected to certain limitations to protect the interest of the justice instead of the interest of the parties. The court meticulously analyzes the cases and approves the applications for amendment. The court accepts the application on the ground of bona fide intention, avoids pendency and injustice to the parties, and leads to the determination of real questions in controversies between the parties. The applicant needs to be cautious while applying for an amendment of pleadings and ensure the ends of justice should meet and not get compromised.

FAQs on Amendment of Pleadings

Do the courts bound to accept the amendment made by the plaint?

No, it is completed based on the court’s discretion to accept or reject the amendments. The court is not bound to accept the amendment and empower to reject the amendment at its discretion. The court is also empowered to reject the amendments that were made by the parties in the pleading on the grounds of mala fide intention and misleading the court.

Is the discretion power given to the court subjected to abuse by corrupts?

Yes, the discretionary power given to the court might be abused by the corrupts for their benefit. It might cause injustice to either of the parties in the litigation.

Are the amendments in the pleading allowed only before the commencement of the trial?

No, the court can allow either of the parties for the amendment in pleading during the trial. It is not necessary to make amendments before the commencement of the trial. The objective of the amendment of pleading is to correct the mistakes in the pleading made by the parties and find out the actual question of conflict between the parties.

Are the parties liable for committing mistakes in the pleading?

No, the objective of the amendments in pleadings is to correct the mistakes made by the parties in their pleading in the first place and not to punish them for committing such mistakes. But, voluntary committing errors in the pleading might have resulted in a criminal proceeding against the individual. A party might be found guilty under contempt of court for voluntarily committing such mistakes in the pleading.

[1] AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS AFTER COMMENCEMENT OF TRIAL: RIGHT OF THE PARTY OR DISCRETION OF THE COURT UNDER ORDER VI RULE 17? (manupatra.com)

[2] Amendment of pleadings under order VI of rule 17 of CPC,1908 (taxguru.in)

[3] Paper Prensentation on Amendment of Pleadings – J Syam Kumar, JCJ, Korutla.pdf (ecourts.gov.in)

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Prashant Sharma

Prashant Sharma is a law student at Government Law College, Mumbai. He secured AIR 46 in MHCET 2021. He used to write content based on legal issues, social issues, economic aspects, current issues, maritime industries, technology and other related topics.