Every party to a civil case has to take proper pleadings and establish the same by adducing cogent evidence. where the evidence is not in line with the pleadings and is at variance with it, the said evidence cannot be looked into or relied upon. In this article, I intend to extract some important citations for the benefit of advocates, judicial officers, law students and litigant public to know the importance of pleadings in a civil case. The basis for this article is Kalyan Singh Chouhan vs C.P.Joshi case. On 24 January, 2011, the Hon’ble Supreme Court delivered a land mark ruling in Kalyan Singh Chouhan vs C.P.Joshi, Civil Appeal No. 870 OF 2011 (Arising out of SLP (C) NO. 16944 OF 2010). In fact, it is an election petition. In this judgment, the Apex Court explained the general principles relating to ‘pleadings in civil cases‘. If we go through the following rulings, we can understand the general principles relating to importance of pleadings in civil cases.
AIR 1995 SC 2284
Gajanan Krishnaji Bapat & Anr. v. Dattaji Raghobaji Meghe & Ors
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the court cannot consider any fact which is beyond the pleadings of the parties. The parties have to take proper pleadings and establish by adducing evidence that by a particular irregularity/illegality the result of the election has been materially affected.
Sri Mahant Govind Rao v. Sita Ram Kesho, (1898) 25 Ind. App. 195; M/s. Trojan & Co. v. RM. N.N. Nagappa Chettiar, AIR 1953 SC 235; Raruha Singh v. Achal Singh & Ors.; AIR 1961 SC 1097; Om Prakash Gupta v. Ranbir B. Goyal, AIR 2002 SC 665; Ishwar Dutt v. Land Acquisition Collector & Anr., AIR 2005 SC 3165; and State of Maharashtra v. Hindustan Construction Company Ltd., (2010) 4 SCC 518.
Pleadings and particulars are required to enable the court to decide the rights of the parties in the trial. Thus, the pleadings are more to help the court in narrowing the controversy involved and to inform the parties concerned to the question in issue, so that the parties may adduce appropriate evidence on the said issue. It is settled legal proposition that as a rule relief not founded on the pleadings should not be granted.; Therefore, a decision of a case cannot be based on grounds outside the pleadings of the parties. The pleadings and issues are to ascertain the real dispute between the parties to narrow the area of conflict and to see just where the two sides differ.
AIR 1987 SC 1242
Ram Sarup Gupta (dead) by L.Rs. v. Bishun Narain Inter College & Ors.
The Apex Court held as under:
It is well settled that in the absence of pleading, evidence, if any, produced by the parties cannot be considered. It is also equally settled that no party should be permitted to travel beyond its pleading and that all necessary and material facts should be pleaded by the party in support of the case set up by it. The object and purpose of pleading is to enable the adversary party to know the case it has to meet…….. In such a case it is the duty of the court to ascertain the substance of the pleadings to determine the question.
AIR 2009 SC 1103
Bachhaj Nahar v. Nilima Mandal & Ors.
The Supreme Court held as under:
The object and purpose of pleadings and issues is to ensure that the litigants come to trial with all issues clearly defined and to prevent cases being expanded or grounds being shifted during trial. Its object is also to ensure that each side is fully alive to the questions that are likely to be raised or considered so that they may have an opportunity of placing the relevant evidence appropriate to the issues before the court for its consideration.
The object of issues is to identify from the pleadings the questions or points required to be decided by the courts so as to enable parties to let in evidence thereon. When the facts necessary to make out a particular claim, or to seek a particular relief, are not found in the plaint, the court cannot focus the attention of the parties, or its own attention on that claim or relief, by framing an appropriate issue…….. Thus it is said that no amount of evidence, on a plea that is not put forward in the pleadings, can be looked into to grant any relief.
The jurisdiction to grant relief in a civil suit necessarily depends on the pleadings, prayer, court fee paid, evidence let in, etc.
AIR 1956 SC 231
J.K. Iron & Steel Co. Ltd, Kanpur v. The Iron and Steel Mazdoor Union, Kanpur,
the Supreme Court observed: It is not open to the Tribunals to fly off at a tangent and, disregarding the pleadings, to reach any conclusions that they think are just and proper.
Order XIV Rule 1 CPC reads:
Issues arise when a material proposition of fact or law is affirmed by the party and denied by the other.
Therefore, it is neither desirable nor required for the court to frame an issue not arising on the pleadings. The Court should not decide a suit on a matter/point on which no issue has been framed.
Raja Bommadevara Venkata Narasimha Naidu & Anr. v. Raja Bommadevara Bhashya Karlu Naidu & Ors., (1902) 29 Ind. App. 76 (PC); Sita Ram v. Radha Bai & Ors., AIR 1968 SC 535; Gappulal v. Thakurji Shriji Dwarkadheeshji & Anr., AIR 1969 SC 1291; and Biswanath Agarwalla v. Sabitri Bera, (2009) 15 SCC 693.
(1894-95) 22 Ind. App. 4 (PC).
Sayad Muhammad. v. Fatteh Muhammad
The object of framing issues is to ascertain/shorten the area of dispute and pinpoint the points required to be determined by the court. The issues are framed so that no party at the trial is taken by surprise. It is the issues fixed and not the pleadings that guide the parties in the matter of adducing evidence.
(2003) 8 SCC 740
Kashi Nath (Dead) through L.Rs. v. Jaganath
The ApexCourt held that where the evidence is not in line with the pleadings and is at variance with it, the said evidence cannot be looked into or relied upon. While deciding the said case, this Court placed a very heavy reliance on the judgment of the Privy Council in Siddik Mohd. Shah v. Saran, AIR 1930 PC 57.
Nagubai Ammal & Ors. v. B. Shama Rao & Ors., AIR 1956 SC 593; Nedunuri Kameswaramma v. Sampati Subba Rao, AIR 1963 SC 1 884; Kunju Kesavan v. M.M. Philip & Ors., AIR 1964 SC 164; Kali Prasad Agarwalla (dead) by L.Rs. & Ors. v. M/s. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. & Ors., AIR 1989 SC 1530; Sayed Akhtar v. Abdul Ahad, (2003) (7) SCC 52; and Bhuwan Singh v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., AIR 2009 SC 2177.
There may be an exceptional case wherein the parties proceed to trial fully knowing the rival case and lead all the evidence not only in support of their contentions but in refutation thereof by the other side. In such an eventuality, absence of an issue would not be fatal and it would not be permissible for a party to submit that there has been a mis-trial and the proceedings stood vitiated.
As was pointed out by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Kalyan Singh Chouhan‘s case (supra), there may be an exceptional case wherein the parties proceed to trial fully knowing the rival case and lead all the evidence not only in support of their contentions but in refutation thereof by the other side. In such an eventuality, absence of an issue would not be fatal and it would not be permissible for a party to submit that there has been a mis-trial and the proceedings stood vitiated. Therefore, in view of the above, it is evident that the party to a civil case must plead the material fact and substantiate its averment by adducing sufficient evidence. The court cannot travel beyond the pleadings and the issue cannot be framed unless there are pleadings to raise the controversy on a particular fact or law. It is, therefore, not permissible for the court to allow the party to lead evidence which is not in the line of the pleadings. Even if the evidence is led that is just to be ignored as the same cannot be taken into consideration.