[CPC] Court May Grant Leave Under Order XI Rule 5 To File New Documents Not Filed With Plaint: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court recently ruled that under Order XI Rule 5 of the Civil Procedure Code, the court can grant leave to the plaintiff to file documents that were not filed with the plaint.Justice Asha Menon while observing so, allowed a petition that challenged the order of the Trial Court dismissing applications to place additional documents on record which were not initially produced when...
The Delhi High Court recently ruled that under Order XI Rule 5 of the Civil Procedure Code, the court can grant leave to the plaintiff to file documents that were not filed with the plaint.
Justice Asha Menon while observing so, allowed a petition that challenged the order of the Trial Court dismissing applications to place additional documents on record which were not initially produced when the plaint was filed.
The plea was filed being aggrieved by the order of the District Judge of Commercial Court dated 15th March 2021, whereby the petitioner's applications for amendment of the plaint and for placing on record the additional documents were dismissed.
The petitioner company had filed a suit against Sprint Cars Pvt. Ltd., for the recovery of Rs.31,65,271/- along with interest, and had placed certain documents and a statement of accounts on record.
Later on, the petitioner filed an application under Order VI Rule 17 CPC for amending the plaint, and an application under Order VII Rule 14 CPC for bringing on record documents, such as, further invoices, to substantiate the amendment sought, which was for enhancing the suit claim from Rs.31,65,271/- to Rs.39,03,396/-.
By the impugned order, the Trial Court rejected the application for amendment observing that since the amendment would result in allowing a claim relinquished by the plaintiff at the time of filing the suit, it could not be allowed.
The application under Order VII Rule 14 CPC was dismissed taking a view that since the amendment was not allowed, these documents could not be filed by the plaintiff in view of the amended Order XI Rule 5 CPC, as the dispute was a commercial dispute.
Advocate Zahid appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Trial Court had misdirected itself in holding that the amendments were belated and that the petitioner had given up the claim that it was belatedly seeking to incorporate in the plaint. The counsel submitted that there was no material change to the nature of the suit, as the only amendment that was sought was the enhancement of the total sum of the claim.
It was further submitted that the amendment had been sought at the earliest, considering the matter was pending before the Mediation Centre. It was submitted that when the respondents denied having raised invoices, a thorough search was made and the documents and additional invoices were discovered, which also revealed that the respondents had to pay much more to the petitioner.
Advocate Ritik Malik for the respondents submitted that the orders of the District Judge was in accordance with law and no ground was made out for allowing the amendment.
It was submitted that having all the documents with them, the petitioner nevertheless, chose to file the suit for a lesser amount. In these circumstances, the Commercial Court had rightly concluded that by filing a suit for a lesser amount, the petitioner had given up the claim for the remaining amount.
The respondents placed reliance on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Revajeetu Builders & Developers v. Narayanaswamy & Sons [(2009) 10 SCC 84] to submit that if the amendments were of such a nature where a fresh suit could be barred, then the amendments ought not to be allowed.
At the outset, the High Court observed,
"When the application under Order VI Rule 17 CPC was filed specifically recording that it was after laboriously and meticulously going through the record, to answer the claim of the respondents that they have never raised any bills or invoices, that the documents could be traced, a sound explanation has come forth."
Once the documents were traced and connected to the Ledger Account for various years, the petitioner sought to bring them on record in support of the claim, which then had to be modified to include a further sum of Rs.7,38,125/-, it added.
The Court noted that Order VI Rule 17 CPC permits the court to allow amendments to pleadings for the purpose of determining the "real question in controversy" between the parties.
Where the application is moved after the trial has commenced, the court may still allow amendments upon being satisfied that the averments sought to be introduced by way of amendments were not included in the pleadings at the initial stage despite due diligence.
The Court asserted that in the present case, not only was the trial yet to commence, the suit was at a very preliminary stage.
Similarly, the amendment did not seek to change the nature of the suit, which remains one for recovery. Therefore, it was decided that the petitioner cannot be denied an opportunity to meet the claim of the respondents that there were no invoices or bills raised.
In order to fully determine the dispute between the parties, the Court found that the amendments were necessary since effective adjudication of the controversy and avoidance of multiplicity of judicial proceedings were factors that have to be considered.
It was further noted by the Court that Order II Rule 2 CPC had no application at the stage of deciding an application under Order VI Rule 17 CPC to amend the plaint, and that It cannot be used to deny correction of claims at the initial stage of the case when pleadings have not been completed.
Additionally, it was found that the Trial Court had referred to Order XI Rule 5 CPC as applicable to commercial disputes. But it overlooked the provisions of Order XI Rule 1(1)(c)(ii) CPC, which permits the plaintiff to file documents in answer to the case set up by the defendant subsequent to the filing of the plaint.
"The precise case of the petitioner is that when the respondents denied that invoices were ever raised, the application was moved to bring the invoices on record. Under Order XI Rule 5 CPC, the court can grant leave to the plaintiff to file documents, not filed with the plaint. The Commercial Court erred in over-looking these provisions of the CPC."
The impugned orders were therefore set aside as being erroneous. Accordingly, the petition was allowed.
The petitioner was thereby granted one opportunity to file the amended plaint along with the documents and statement of truth before the Commercial Court within two weeks from the date of this order. However, this opportunity was granted subject to a cost of Rs.10,000/-, payable to the counsel for the respondents before the next date of hearing, before the learned Commercial Court.
Case Title: Valo Automotive Pvt. Ltd. v. Sprint Cars Pvt Ltd.