Pleadings in Civil Cases
Pleadings avow basic positions of the parties in a civil suit. There are the circular orders and administrative instructions are being issued from time to time for the guidance of all the subordinate Civil Courts. As to pleadings of civil suits are concerned, it is seminal to refer to Order 6 the Code of Civil Procedure,1908 (CPC). ”Pleading” shall mean plaint or written statement as seen from Order 6 Rule 1 CPC. All plaints, written Statements and other proceedings presented to the court, shall be written, type written or printed, fairly and legible on stamped paper or on substantial foolscap folio paper. A plaint shall be headed with a cause-title, as in Form No.1 of Andhra Pradesh Civil Rules of Practice (CRP). Certain Form of Proceedings are set out in Chapter -II of the Civil Rules of Practice for the guidance of all the subordinate Civil Courts. For instance, when a document produced with any pleading appears to be defaced, torn, or in any way damaged, or where its condition or appearance required special notice, a note of its condition and appearance shall be made on the list of documents by the party producing the same and should be checked and initialed, if correct, by the receiving officer. The rule is that civil cases are decided on the basis of preponderance of evidence. See. Syed Askari’s, 2009 (3) SCALE 604). Of course, there are instances that defendant drags the proceedings without filing his written satement for months together. If defendant was deliberately delaying the proceedings and had failed to assign good and sufficient cause for not filing the written statement, the Court could forfeit his right of defence. See. Smt. Sushila Jain vs. Rajasthan Finacial Corporation Jaipur, AIR 1979 Raj 215.
Pleadings are very crucial:- Generally, pleadings shall contain the following factors as was provided in Order 6 of CPC. No pleading shall, except by way of amendment, raise any new ground of claim or contain any allegation of fact inconsistent with the previous pleadings of the party pleading the same. As to material contents of a document, it shall be sufficient in any pleading to state the effect thereof as briefly as possible, without setting out the whole or any part thereof, unless the precise words of the document or any part thereof are material. Every pleading shall be signed by the party and his pleader (if any). where a party pleading is, by reason of absence or for other good cause, unable to sign the pleading, it may be signed by any person duly authorized by him to sign the same or to sue or defend on his behalf. It is advised to go through Order 6 of CPC.
Sections 40, 41, and 42 Indian Evidence are irrelevant.
Significantly enough, Section 43 of the Evidence Act categorically states that judgments, orders or decrees, other than those mentioned in Sections 40, 41, and 42 are irrelevant, unless the existence of such judgment, order or decree, is a fact in issue, or is relevant under some other provisions of the Act. No other provision of the Indian Evidence or for that matter any other statute has been brought to our notice.
Some discussion about Sections 40, 41, and 42 Evidence Act is important because in M/s Karam Chand Ganga Prasad & anr. etc. vs. Union of India & ors, (1970) 3 SCC 694, wherein it was categorically held that the decisions of the civil courts will be binding on the criminal courts but the converse is not true, was overruled, stating:
“33. Hence, the observation made by this Court in V.M. Shah case that the finding recorded by the criminal court stands superseded by the finding recorded by the civil court is not correct enunciation of law. Further, the general observations made in Karam Chand case are in context of the facts of the case stated above. The Court was not required to consider the earlier decision of the Constitution Bench in M.S. Sheriff case as well as Section 40 to 43 of the Evidence Act.”
Facts admitted need not be proved. See. section 58 of Indian Evidence Act. This section postulates that things admitted need not be proved.This principle was laid down in Avtar Singh and Ors. vs. Gurdial Singh and Ors, (2006) 12 SCC 269. Also see. Gannamani Anasuya and Ors., vs. Parvatini Amarendra Chowdary and Ors, (2007) 10 SCC 296; Balraj Taneja & Anr vs. Madan & Anr.
A thing admitted in view of Section 58 of the Indian Evidence Act need not be proved. Order VIII Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that even a vague or evasive denial may be treated to be an admission in which event the court may pass a decree in favour of the plaintiff. Relying on or on the basis thereof a suit, having regard to the provisions of Order XII Rule 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure may also be decreed on admission. It is one thing to say that without resiling from an admission, it would be permissible to explain under what circumstances the same had been made or it was made under a mistaken belief or to clarify one’s stand inter alia in regard to the extent or effect of such admission, but it is another thing to say that a person can be permitted to totally resile therefrom. See. (2008) 2 SCC 85.
An admission made in a pleading is not to be treated in the same manner as an admission in a document. An admission made by a party to the lis is admissible against him proprio vigore. See. Gautham Sarup vs. Leela Jetly, (2008) 2 SCC 85.
Effect of an admission:-
Curiously enough, the law as regards the effect of an admission is also no longer res integra. Whereas a party may not be permitted to resile from his admission at a subsequent stage of the same proceedings, it is also trite that an admission made contrary to law shall not be binding on the State. See. (2007) 1 SCC 457, State Of Haryana & Ors vs M.P. Mohla.
Preponderance of probabilities:- Civil cases are decided on the basis of preponderance of evidence.Ref: Syed Askari Hadi Ali Augustine Imam and Anr vs. State (Delhi Admn.) and Anr, 2009 (3) SCALE 604. In this contenxt, it is seminal to see that indeed, proof of facts by preponderance of probabilities as in a civil case is not foreign to criminal jurisprudence as was held in AIR 1978 SC 961, State (Delhi Administration) vs Sanjay Gandhi. It is observed in G.Vasu’s case,AIR 1987 AP 139, a fact is said not to be proved when it is neither proved nor disproved. It will be seen that the words ‘proved’ and ‘disproved’ are closely connected with the theory of ‘preponderance of probabilities.”
Evidence is to be given only on a plea:-
The ordinary rule of law is that evidence is to be given only on a plea properly raised and not in contradiction of the plea.” The Supreme Court in the case of Mrs. Om Prabha Jain Vs. Abnash CHand and Anr, 1968 AIR 1083. The evidence to be admitted cannot travel beyond the pleadings. See. Harihar Prasad Singh And Ors vs Balmiki Prasad Singh And Ors, 1975 AIR 733, 1975 SCR (2) 932. As was pointed out in evidence adduced beyond the pleadings would not be admissible nor can any evidence be permitted to be adduced which is at variance with the pleadings. See. AIR 1966 SC 773, Dr.Jagjit Singh Vs.Gaini Kartar Singh.
Is not a judgment of a civil court binding on a criminal court?
A judgment in a criminal case, thus, is admissible for a limited purpose. relying only on or on the basis thereof, a civil proceeding cannot be determined, but that would not mean that it is not admissible for any purpose whatsoever. See. Seth Ramdayal Jat vs. Laxmi Prasad, Civil Appeal no. 2543/2009, Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 23441/2007, dt.15-04-2009. Axiomatically, if judgment of a civil court is not binding on a criminal court, a judgment of a criminal court will certainly not be binding on a civil court. Basically, civil cases are decided on the basis of preponderance of evidence while in a criminal case the entire burden lies on the prosecution and proof beyond reasonable doubt has to be given. There is neither any statutory provision nor any legal principle that the findings recorded in one proceeding may be treated as final or binding in the other, as both the cases have to be decided on the basis of the evidence adduced therein (Ref. AIR 1954 SC 397, M.S.Sheriff’s case). A judgment of a civil court shall be binding on the criminal court as was held in Shanti Kumar Panda vs. Shakuntala, (2004) 1 SCC 438. It is well-settled that in a given case, civil proceedings and criminal proceedings can proceed simultaneously. Whether civil proceedings or criminal proceedings shall be stayed depends upon the fact and circumstances of each case. See. AIR 2008 SC 1884, P. Swaroopa Rani vs M. Hari Narayana @ Hari Babu. Also see. (2005) 4 SCC 370,Iqbal Singh Marwah’s case. Civil proceedings and criminal proceedings can proceed simultaneously. See. P.Swaroopa Rani vs. M.Hari Narayana @ Hari Babu, AIR 2008 SC 1884
Any amount of evidence, without pleadings should be eschewed.
Darisi Masthanamma vs. Mandiga Rama Krishna, AIR 2006 AP286. M.B. Subramanyam vs. A.Ramaswamy, SA Nos. 1668 & 1669/2008 and M.P. No. 1/2008. Mohamed Ismail and anr vs. Khadirsa Rowther and Ors, (1982) 2 MLJ 367. The decision of a case cannot be ‘based on grounds outside the pleadings of the parties, AIR 1953 SC 235; Trojan and company Vs R.M.N.N Nagappa chettiar; Johnson v. Rex ( A.C. 817) referred to. It is well settled that the decision of a case cannot be ‘based on grounds outside the pleadings of the parties and that it is the case pleaded that has to be found.
Without an amendment of the plaint the court was not entitled to grant the relief not asked for AIR 1953 SC 235, Trojan and company Vs R.M.N.N Nagappa chettiar, Without an amendment of the plaint the court was not entitled to grant the relief not asked for and no prayer was ever made to amend the plaint so as to incorporate in it an alternative case. Entire pleadings on both sides can be looked into:- 2017(2) ALT 24 (DNSC), Kuldeep singh Pathavia Vs. Bikram Singh Jorgal. Principal Of Law is that pleadings on both sides can be looked into under order 14 Rule 2(2) to seek where the court has jurisdiction and whether there to a bar for entertaining the suit.
Pleadings are not statues: As was held in AIR 1987 SC 193 SB Noronar Vs Prem Kundi, Pleadings are not statutes and legalism is not verbatim common sense should not be kept in cold storage,when pleadings are constructed. Plea regarding maintainability of suit is required to be raised in the first instance 2017(2) ALT 40 (SC), A.Kanthamani (Mrs) Mrs. VS.Nasreen Ahmed.
Conclusion:- It is curious to note that pleading to state material facts and not evidence. Particulars of facts to be given where necessary. Any condition precedent, the performance or occurrence of which is intended to be contested, shall be distinctly specified in his pleading by the plaintiff or defendant. No pleading shall, except by way of amendment, raise any new ground of claim or contain any allegation f fact inconsistent with the previous pleadings of the party pleading the same. Bare denial of contract shall be construed only as a denial in fact of the express contract alleged or of the matters of fact from which the same may be implied, and not as a denial of the legality or sufficiency in law of such contract. As to material contents of a document, it shall be sufficient in any pleading to state the effect thereof as briefly as possible, without setting out the whole or any part thereof, unless the precise words of the document or any part thereof are material. Neither party need in any pleading allege any matter of fact which the law presumes in his favour or as to which the burden of proof lies upon the other side unless the same has first been specifically denied. Every pleading shall be signed by the party and his pleader (if any). where a party pleading is, by reason of absence or for other good cause, unable to sign the pleading, it may be signed by any person duly authorized by him to sign the same or to sue or defend on his behalf. Pleadins shall contain address for service of notice. Verification of pleadings is also an important task. Sequentially, striking out pleadings and amendment of pleadings are significant factors. See. Order VI of CPC.