Use of Order 18 Rule 17A of CPC is for production of evidence not previously known or which could not be produced despite due diligence

The power under section 151 will have to be used with circumspection and care, only where it is absolutely necessary, when there is no provision in the Code governing the matter, when the bona fides of the applicant cannot be doubted, when such exercise is to meet the ends of justice and to prevent abuse of process of court.

11. The Code earlier had a specific provision in Order 18 Rule 17A for production of evidence not previously known or the evidence which could not be produced despite due diligence. It enabled the court to permit a party to produce any evidence even at a late stage, after the conclusion of his evidence if he satisfied the court that even after the exercise of due diligence, the evidence was not within his knowledge and could not be produced by him when he was leading the evidence. That provision was deleted with effect from 1.7.2002. The deletion of the said provision does not mean that no evidence can be received at all, after a party closes his evidence. It only means that the amended structure of the Code found no need for such a provision, as the amended Code contemplated little or no time gap between completion of evidence and commencement and conclusion of arguments. Another reason for its deletion was the misuse thereof by the parties to prolong the proceedings under the pretext of discovery of new evidence.

12. The amended provisions of the Code contemplate and expect a trial court to hear the arguments immediately after the completion of evidence and then proceed to judgment. Therefore, it was unnecessary to have an express provision for re-opening the evidence to examine a fresh witness or for recalling any witness for further examination. But if there is a time gap between the completion of evidence and hearing of the arguments, for whatsoever reason, and if in that interregnum, a party comes across some evidence which he could not lay his hands earlier, or some evidence in regard to the conduct or action of the other party comes into existence, the court may in exercise of its inherent power under section 151 of the Code, permit the production of such evidence if it is relevant and necessary in the interest of justice, subject to such terms as the court may deem fit to impose. [Supreme Court of India in K.K. Velusamy vs N. Palaanisamy, decided on 30 March, 2011]


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