29 Sep 2023 12:30 PM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently laid down that no party could succeed a case by adducing evidence without support of pleadings, since the law is well-settled that one could be permitted to let in evidence only in tune with the pleadings.Justice A. Badharudeen added that the basic rule governing pleadings is founded on the principle of secundum allegata et probate, that a party is not allowed...
The Kerala High Court recently laid down that no party could succeed a case by adducing evidence without support of pleadings, since the law is well-settled that one could be permitted to let in evidence only in tune with the pleadings.
Justice A. Badharudeen added that the basic rule governing pleadings is founded on the principle of secundum allegata et probate, that a party is not allowed to succeed where he has not set up the case which he wants to establish.
"...the object and purpose of pleading are to enable the adversary party to know the case it has to meet. In order to have a fair trial, it is imperative that the party should state the essential material facts so that the other party may not be taken by surprise. Pleadings help the court in determining the burden of proof. The burden of proof is fixed on the basis of the contentions of the aggrieved party. If some evidence has been produced which is not in conformation with the written statement or plaint, it may disturb the position of the whole case."
The plaintiff and defendant herein had entered into an agreement to purchase the defendant's half-share of a property for a total of Rs. 14,50,000.
The defendant received an advance payment of Rs. 7,50,000, and it was agreed that upon payment of the remaining amount, the sale deed would be executed in the plaintiff's name. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed to have advanced further amounts totalling Rs. 4,00,000 to the defendant.
When the defendant failed to execute the sale deed as agreed, the plaintiff sought to rescind the agreement and demanded Rs. 11,50,000 along with interest. The defendant, on the other hand, contended that the agreement was not for the plaintiff to purchase the property but rather for the defendant to sell it to third parties identified by the plaintiff.
The defendant argued that they had fulfilled their part of the contract by executing a sale deed in favour of K.S. Thankachan, a nominee of the plaintiff, and later transferred the property to V.P. Vijayamma and her son Sarathchandran as per a subsequent sale deed.
During the trial, the defendant's case seemed to change from the written statement, where they now claimed to have executed the sale deed in favour of K.S. Thankachan as per the agreement with the plaintiff.
However, the evidence presented during the trial, including the testimony of witnesses, did not support this new contention. K.S. Thankachan's evidence contradicted the defendant's claim that he was a nominee of the plaintiff, and there was no substantial proof of such an arrangement.
The Court in this case found that the defendant's statements were at variance with his specific contention in the written statement and emphasised that evidence must align with the pleadings in a case. On examination of the evidence rendered by the defence witnesses, the Court noted that the same was not seen to be proved.
The Court also perused a plethora of precedents to highlight that in the absence of pleadings, the evidence adduced by parties cannot be considered and that no party ought to be permitted to 'travel beyond the pleadings'.
Examining the necessity of pleadings, the Court stated that pleadings serve the crucial function of allowing all parties to understand the case at hand, which ensures a fair trial.
The court held that evidence cannot be considered if it does not align with the pleadings, as the pleadings form the foundation of a case.
"The intent behind pleadings, be it a statement of claim, defence or reply, is of identifying the real issues between the parties, to limit the evidence of the trial subject to the issues formed and to guarantee that no party is taken at any disadvantage by the introduction of matter not certain from pleading and the trial proceeds smoothly towards judgment, upholding the principles of a fair trial. To put it otherwise, a party while entering into a trial should know in advance the crux of the case they will have to face and substantiate during the course of trial. It is in this view of this matter, relief not pleaded in a pleading should not be granted is a legally accepted proposition. Therefore, the court cannot go beyond the scope of pleadings since pleadings are the substratum to find out the real controversy between the parties. A civil suit depends on the pleadings."
Thus, the Court took note that the defendant had not raised any contention in his written statement that he had transferred the property in the name of the plaintiff's nominee K.S. Thankachan, although there had been a failed attempt to prove the same by adducing evidence.
The contention raised in the written statement that the defendant had executed the sale deed in favour of two other nominees of the plaintiff was also not seen to be proved.
"To sum up, it has to be held that the concurrent verdicts entered into by the trial court as well as the appellate court do not require interference at the hands of this Court," the Court declared while dismissing the appeal.
Counsel for the Appellant/Defendant: Advocates P.B. Krishnan, P.B. Subramanyan, Sabu George, and Manu Vyasan Peter
Counsel for the Respondent/Plaintiff: Advocates Luke J. Chirayil, and M.G. Sreejith
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 521
Case Title: M.N. Saji v. K.R. Krishnakumar
Case Number: RSA NO. 186 OF 2022
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