30 Sep 2023 11:30 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently held that a trial judge cannot wait until conclusion of trial to decide if the plaint has to be rejected, and added that such decision should be made solely on an assessment of the plaint under Order VII Rule 11 CPC.Justice Devan Ramachandran observed that Trial judge waiting for rejecting the plaint until trial was completed defeats the purpose of law laid...
The Kerala High Court recently held that a trial judge cannot wait until conclusion of trial to decide if the plaint has to be rejected, and added that such decision should be made solely on an assessment of the plaint under Order VII Rule 11 CPC.
Justice Devan Ramachandran observed that Trial judge waiting for rejecting the plaint until trial was completed defeats the purpose of law laid down under Order VII Rule 11 CPC.
“Obviously, the holding of the learned Munsiff in Ext.P11, that the petitioner will have to wait until the trial is completed, for his application under Order VII, Rule 11 of the CPC to be considered, is not merely anachronistic, but militates against the very purpose for which said provision has been brought into force.”
Order VII Rule 11 says that for the purpose of instituting a suit, the cause of action needs to be explicitly mentioned in the plaint. If it has not been mentioned, then the plaint will be rejected by the Court.
The petitioner received a summons from the Munsiff's Court regarding a lawsuit filed against him by the first respondent. He promptly moved the court to reject the plaintiff's claim under Order VII Rule 11 on the ground that the plaint does not disclose a valid cause of action. It was also alleged that the statements in the plaint was contrary to the stand taken by the respondents in a previous suit and was barred by law and was abuse of process of law.
The petitioner alleged that the Munsiff rejected the application without considering it on merits since it misunderstood the purpose of Order VII Rule 11, which is intended to eliminate unworthy lawsuits at their inception.
Aggrieved by the order of the Munsiff Court, the petitioner moved the High Court.
The Counsel for the petitioner argued that the order of the Munsiff was contrary to the Order 7 Rule 11, which was to weed out unworthy plaints at the beginning without going into the trial. It was argued that when a plaint does not disclose a valid cause of action, it can be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11 and cannot wait for the trial to be over.
The Counsel for the respondents submitted order of the Munsiff was sustainable as a decision regarding the petitioner’s claim can only be adjudicated only after the trial of the suit was over.
Advocate Millu Dandapani, counsel for the ninth respondent, supported the petitioner's position. He argued that when a lawsuit lacks a valid cause of action or is affected by the conditions mentioned in Order VII Rule 11, the trial judge must reject it outright and not wait until the trial concludes.
The Court underscored that the purpose of Order VII Rule 11 was to assess the plaintiff's claim at its inception, determining if it should be rejected for any valid reasons. It found that the plaint can be rejected by the Munsiff under Order 7 Rule 11 solely on an assessment of the plaint if it satisfies the causes mentioned therein.
“Apodictically, therefore, what was required for the learned Munsiff was to decide, solely on an assessment of the plaint, whether it was deserving of being rejected as prayed for by the petitioner; and if any of the reasons mentioned therein are attracted for such purpose.”
The Court noted that the order of the Munsiff that rejection of plaint under Order 7 Rule 11 will be considered after trial was unfathomable and defeats the very purpose of the provision. Under Order 7 Rule 11, a plaint can be rejected by Trial Judge on an assessment of the plaint if it does not disclose a cause of action, barred by law, or was an abuse of process of law. The Court stated thus:
“The binding various precedents which cover the field make it incontestable that, what is expected of a Trial Judge is to verify whether the plaint is an abuse of process; and whether any of the inhibiting factors as enumerated thereunder are attracted, so as to render the same incompetent and incapable of prosecution.”
Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition and directed the Trial Court to reconsider the petitioner’s application for rejection of plaint and to issue an appropriate order within a month.
Counsel for the petitioner: Advocates A. Parvathi Menon, P.Sanjay, Biju Meenattoor, Paul Varghese (Pallath), P.A.Mohammed Aslam, Kiran Narayanan, Prasoon Sunny, Rahul Raj, Amrutha M. Nair, Muhammed Bilal.V.A
Counsel for the respondents: Millu Dandapani, K.S.Bharathan, , Alphin Antony, Aadithyan S.Mannali, Rance R, Hasna Nazar
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 522
Case title: Justice Chettur Sankaran Nair v. Madhu Vadakkepatt
Case number: OP(C) NO. 898 OF 2023
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