Whether a Court is competent to reject the Plaint when it failed to state material facts
Civil Procedure Code, 1908—Order 6, Rule 2(1) read with Order 7, Rule 11—Rejection of plaint
The plaint can be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 if conditions enumerated in the said provision are fulfilled. It is needless to observe that the power under Order 7 Rule 11, CPC can be exercised by the Court at any stage of the suit. Madanuri Sri Rama Chandra Murthy vs. Syed Jalal 4 (2017) 13 SCC 174.
It is the bounden duty of the Court to examine the plaint as a whole and not selected averments therein. While deciding the application under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC, few lines or passage from the plaint should not be read in isolation and the pleadings ought to be read as a whole to ascertain its true import. Shakti Bhog Food Industries Ltd.
Versus The Central Bank of India & Anr. CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2514 OF 2020.
The real object of Order VII Rule 11 of the Code is to keep out of Courts irresponsible law suits. Therefore, the Order X of the Code is a tool in the hands of the Courts by resorting to which and by searching examination of the party in case the Court is prima facie of the view that the suit is an abuse of the process of the Court in the sense that it is a bogus and irresponsible litigation, the jurisdiction under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code can be exercised.
As noted supra, the Order VII Rule 11 does not justify rejection of any particular portion of the plaint, Order VI Rule 16 of the Code is relevant in this regard. It deals with, ‘striking out pleadings’. It has three clauses permitting the Court at any stage of the proceeding to strike out or amend any matter in any pleading i.e. (a) which may be unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious, or, (b) which may tend to prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of the suit, or (c) which is otherwise an abuse of the process of the Court.
Order VI Rule 2 (1) of the Code states the basic and cardinal rule of pleadings and declares that the pleading has to state material facts and not the evidence. It mandates that every pleading shall contain, and contain only, a statement in a concise form of the material facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim or defence, as the case may be, but not the evidence by which they are to be proved.
There is distinction between ‘material facts’ and ‘particulars’.
The words ‘material facts’ show that the facts necessary to formulate a complete cause of action must be stated. Omission of a single material fact leads to an incomplete cause of action and the statement or plaint becomes bad. The distinction which has been made between ‘material facts’ and ‘particulars’ was brought by Scott. L. J. in Bruce vs. Odhams Press Ltd., (1936) 1 KB 697 in the following passage :
The cardinal provision in Rule 4 is that the statement of claim must state the material facts. The word “material” means necessary for the purpose of formulating a complete cause of action; and if any one “material” statement is omitted, the statement of claim is bad; it is “demurrable” in the old phraseology, and in the new is liable to be “struck out” under R.S.C. Order XXV, Rule 4 (see Philipps vs. Philipps (1878) 4 QBD 127); or “a further and better statement of claim” may be ordered under Rule 7.
The function of “particulars” under Rule 6 is quite different. They are not to be used in order to fill material gaps in a demurrable statement of claim – gaps which ought to have been filled by appropriate statements of the various material facts which together constitute the plaintiff’s cause of action. The use of particulars is intended to meet a further and quite separate requirement of pleading, imposed in fairness and justice to the defendant. Their function is to fill in the picture of the plaintiff’s cause of action with information sufficiently detailed to put the defendant on his guard as to the case he had to meet and to enable him to prepare for trial.
The dictum of Scott. L.J. in Bruce case (supra) has been quoted with approval by this Court in Samant N. Bal-krishna vs. George Fernandez, (1969) 3 SCC 238, and the distinction between “material facts” and “particulars” was brought out in the following terms :
The word ‘material’ shows that the facts necessary to formulate a complete cause of action must be stated. Omission of a single material fact leads to an incomplete cause of action and the statement of claim becomes bad. The function of particulars is to present as full a picture of the cause of action with such further information in detail as to make the opposite party understand the case he will have to meet.
Rule 11 of Order VII lays down an independent remedy made available to the defendant to challenge the maintainability of the suit itself, irrespective of his right to contest the same on merits.
The law ostensibly does not contemplate at any stage when the objection can be raised, and also does not say in express terms about the filing of a written statement. Instead, the word “shall” is used clearly implying thereby that it casts a duty on the Court to perform its obligations in rejecting the plaint when the same is hit by any of the infirmities provided in the four clauses of Rule 11, even without intervention of the defendant. In any event, rejection of the plaint under Rule 11 does not preclude the plaintiffs from presenting a fresh plaint in terms of Rule 13.
Order VII Rule 11 of the Code reads as follows :
Order VII Rule 11 : Rejection of plaint.-
The plaint shall be rejected in the following cases :-
(a) where it does not disclose a cause of action :
(b) where the relief claimed is undervalued, and the plaintiff, on being required by the Court to correct the valuation within a time to be fixed by the Court, fails to do so :
(c) where the relief claims is properly valued but the plaint is written upon paper insufficiently stamped, and the plaintiff, on being required by the Court to supply the requisite stamp-paper within a time to be fixed by the Court, fails to do so :
(d) where the suit appears from the statement in the plaint to be barred by any law :
(e) where it is not filed in duplicate :
(f) where the plaintiff fails to comply with the provisions of rule 9.
Provided that the time fixed by the Court for the correction of the valuation or supplying of the requisite stamp-paper shall not be extended unless the Court, for reasons to be recorded, is satisfied that the plaintiff was prevented by any cause of an exceptional nature for correcting the valuation or supplying the requisite stamp-paper, as the case may be, within the time fixed by the Court and that refusal to extend such time would cause grave injustice to the plaintiff.”
In the present case the respondent-trust has relied upon clauses (a) and (d) of Rule 11.
Before dealing with the factual scenario, the spectrum of Order VII Rule 11 in the legal ambit needs to be noted.
In Saleem Bhai and others vs. State of Maharashtra and others, (2003) 1 SCC 557) it was held with reference to Order VII Rule 11 of the Code that the relevant facts which need to be looked into for deciding an application thereunder are the averments in the plaint. The trial Court can exercise the power at any stage of the suit – before registering the plaint or after issuing summons to the defendant at any time before the conclusion of the trial. For the purposes of deciding an application under clauses (a) and (d) of Order VII Rule 11 of the Code, the averments in the plaint are the germane : the pleas taken by the defendant in the written statement would be wholly irrelevant at that stage.
In I.T.C. Ltd. vs. Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal and others, (1998) 2 SCC 70 it was held that the basic question to be decided while dealing with an application filed under Order VII Rule 11 of the Code is whether a real cause of action has been set out in the plaint or something purely illusory has been stated with a view to get out of Order VII Rule 11 of the Code.
The trial Court must remember that if on a meaningful and not formal reading of the plaint it is manifestly vexatious and meritless in the sense of not disclosing a clear right to sue, it should exercise the power under Order VII Rule11 of the Code taking care to see that the ground mentioned therein is fulfilled. If clever drafting has created the illusion of a cause of action, it has to be nipped in the bud at the first hearing by examining the party searchingly under Order X of the Code. (See T. Arivandandam vs. T. V. Satyapal and another, (1977) 4 SCC 467.
It is trite law that not any particular plea has to be considered, and the whole plaint has to be read. As was observed by this Court in Roop Lal Sathi vs. Nachhattar Singh Gill, (1982) 3 SCC 487, only a part of the plaint cannot be rejected and if no cause of action is disclosed, the plaint as a whole must be rejected.
In Raptakos Brett and Co. Ltd. vs. Ganesh Property, (1998) 7 SCC 184 it was observed that the averments in the plaint as a whole have to be seen to find out whether clause (d) of Rule 11 of Order VII was applicable.
There cannot be any compartmenta-lization, dissection, segregation and inversions of the language of various paragraphs in the plaint. If such a course is adopted it would run counter to the cardinal canon of interpretation according to which a pleading has to be read as a whole to ascertain its true import. It is not permissible to cull out a sentence or a passage and to read it out of the context in isolation. Although it is the substance and not merely the form that has to be looked into, the pleading has to be construed as it stands without addition or subtraction or words or change of its apparent grammatical sense. The intention of the party concerned is to be gathered primarily from the tenor and terms of his pleadings taken as a whole. At the same time it should be borne in mind that no pedantic approach should be adopted to defeat justice on hair-splitting technicalities.
Therefore a plaint if not drawn as per Order VI Rule 2 (1) or it is subjected under Order VI Rule 16 touching a Fact constitution cause of action , then Order 7 rule 11(a) would attract, consequential in Rejection of Plaint.
1-Decree’ means the formal expression of an adjudication which, so far as regards the Court expressing it, conclusively determines the rights of the parties with regard to all or any of the matters in controversy in the suit and may be either preliminary or final. It shall be deemed to include the rejection of a plaint and the determination of any question within section 144.
2- As against an order, declining to reject the plaint under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, passed by a Court and Subordinate to High Court, only a Revision lies and no Appeal is maintainable. An order dismissing the prayer for rejection of plaint shall not be deemed to be a decree and it shall be only in the form of an order and hence, no appeal shall lie assuming the same to be a decree. The provisions regarding appeal against an order found in Order 43 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 also do not make the said order an appealable one.
3- In Yeshwant Sakhalkar and another vs Hirabat Kamat Mhamai and another (2004 (6) SCC 71, based on the previous judgment of the Supreme Court in Surya Dev Rai v Ram Chandrer Rai and Others (2003) 6 Scc 675: 2003(4) CTC 176:
Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure cannot and does not affect in any manner the jurisdiction of the High Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. Interlocutory orders, passed by the courts subordinate to the High Court, against which remedy of revision has been excluded by CPC Amendment Act 46 of 1999 are nevertheless open to challenge in, and continue to be subject to, certiorari and supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court.