DELHI HIGH COURT IMPOSES COSTS ON DEFENDANTS FOR FRIVOLOUSLY FILING AMENDMENTS IN WRITTEN STATEMENTS WITHOUT PERMISSION OF COURT
In a recent case, Hon’ble Justice Chandra Dhari Singh of the Delhi High Court, pronounced a Judgment dated 12.06.2023, in the matter of Yogesh Kumar vs Davender Kumar Relan And Ors [ I.A. No. 11118/2020 ], and held that the amendments made by the Defendants in their Written Statements were in violation of the statutory provisions of Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC) (Amendment of pleadings).
1) In the present case, the Plaintiff, Yogesh Kumar filed an Amendment Petition bearing A. No. 9752/2014 in CS(OS) 252/2013 before the Coordinate Bench of the Delhi High Court, seeking amendment of Plaint (1st Amended Plaint). Further, the Defendant, Davender Kumar Relan filed an Amended Written Statement dated 7.05.2014 (1st Amended Written Statement).
2) The Delhi High Court allowed the 1st Amended Plaint and 1st Written Statement, vide Order dated 22.05.2015.
3) Thereafter, the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants in the garb of filing an Amended Written Statement to the 1st Amended Plaint, the latter adduced certain new facts and defenses in the Written Statement, as an afterthought, without seeking permission of the Court and the said unwarranted changes in the Written Statement were prejudicial to the Plaintiff.
4) Further, the Plaintiff filed another Amendment Petition bearing IA No. 10184/2019 in CS(OS) 252/2013 before the Delhi High Court, seeking amendment of Plaint dated 17.07.2019 (2nd Amended Plaint) and the same was allowed by the High Court.
5) Thereafter, the Defendants filed Amended Written Statements dated 04.12.2019 (2nd Amended Written Statement) in response to the 2nd Amended Plaint. The Defendants allegedly chose to file a fresh Written Statement incorporating new paragraphs and contents in place of their previously filed Written Statement, without seeking prior permission of the Court.
6) Aggrieved, the Plaintiff filed a Petition bearing A. No. 11118/2020 in CS(OS) 252/2013 before the Delhi High Court, under Order VI Rule 16 CPC (Striking out pleadings), seeking striking off of the pleadings in the 2nd Amended Written Statement dated 04.12.2019.
a) Whether the Amendments made by the Defendants in their 2nd Amended Written Statement are violative of the rules of pleadings to be complied with under Order VI Rule 16 of CPC?
b) Whether all the Amendments made by the Defendants are unnecessary?
HIGH COURT OBSERVATIONS
The High Court, vide Order dated 12.06.2023, made the following observations:
i) That the Defendants have, to some extent, modified their 2nd Amended Written Statement beyond permissible boundaries, as a number of paragraphs have been added, amended, removed, or omitted that are contrary to the Amended Plaint filed by the Plaintiff.
ii) That the Defendant ought to have sought permission from the Court before pleading amendment to the Written Statement by filing an application under Order VI Rule 17 of the CPC (Amendment of pleadings). Once the same is allowed, if the Court, at any stage of the proceedings, feels that any such amended part of the pleadings is unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious / tends to prejudice the fair trial of the suit /abuses the process of Court, in such circumstances, the Court may strike out such part of the pleadings , under Order VI Rule 16 of the CPC (Striking out pleadings). But the power to strike out pleadings is extraordinary in nature and must be exercised by the Court with extreme care, caution, and circumspection.
iii) However, in the present case, the Bench observed that the Defendants amended their Written Statement beyond the limits and beyond the Plaint and the same amounts to interference with the fairness of the trial, as it would give the Defendants an unfair advantage over the Plaintiff by incorporating new defenses and information that were not previously included in their original Written Statement. In fact, the Defendants cleverly and frivolously deleted the pleadings earlier mentioned in their Written Statements and incorporated new paragraphs and changes in the Amended Written Statements, in order to conceal and hide certain facts, without acquiring the necessary legal approval.
iv) That any amendment of pleadings is only permitted with the prior permission of the Court under Order VI Rule 17 of CPC, which is the general due process and an important rule of pleadings prescribed in CPC and any deviation from the same amounts to an infringement of the statutory provisions under CPC.
Thus, based on the aforesaid observations, the High Court held that although the Defendant has frivolously incorporated new paragraphs and changes in their Amended Written Statements, the Court was not inclined to strike out the pleadings as requested by the Plaintiff, as such pleadings were considered necessary. Rather, the Court ordered for levy of costs of Rs. 25,000/- against the Defendants.
Girija Rani Mullapudi
The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services