1 Sep 2023 11:58 AM GMT
The Madras High Court has dismissed an appeal preferred by Zee Media against a single judge's order rejecting its challenge to the interrogatories raised by cricketer MS Dhoni in an ongoing defamation suit between them.Interrogatories are covered under Section 30 and Order XI, Rules 1 to 11, 21, and 22 of the CPC. They are formal written questions that are administered by the parties to...
The Madras High Court has dismissed an appeal preferred by Zee Media against a single judge's order rejecting its challenge to the interrogatories raised by cricketer MS Dhoni in an ongoing defamation suit between them.
Interrogatories are covered under Section 30 and Order XI, Rules 1 to 11, 21, and 22 of the CPC. They are formal written questions that are administered by the parties to the opposite party with the leave of the Court. The objective is that parties disclose their case and ascertain the truth in a fair manner.
A bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq observed that interrogatories should not be narrowed down to technical limits but should be used liberally, to serve the ends of justice. It remarked.
“for understanding the case of the opposite party and to strengthen their own case, a party will send interrogatories to the opposite party. Of course, the interrogatories should be used liberally whenever it can shorten the litigation and serve the interest of justice. Power of interrogatories is not be confined to narrow technical limits, but to be exercised liberally to achieve the end of shortening litigation, reduction of expenses and serve the ends of justice.”
The court added that interrogatories give parties a “right to information” from the adversary and helps speed up trial.
“The set of questions provided can only be ‘question of fact’ and not ‘question of law’. In other words, interrogatories are confined to facts and it will not be conclusions of law. This provision grants a party “right to information” from the adversary. The process of interrogatories narrows the issues and makes the trial less time-consuming. The object of trial is to discern the truth,” the court added.
Zee Media had challenged the interrogatories raised by Dhoni, contending that the interrogatories were in the nature of cross examination and an attempt to prepare the chief examination. The single bench had rejected the application saying that the interrogatories were raised only with a view to gather further information.
In the present appeal, Zee contended that the single judge had allowed the interrogatories without weighing it on the balance of unreasonableness, vexatiousness, prolixity, oppression etc. It was contended that the single judge had failed to show how the interrogatories were relevant to the issues framed in the suit and also contended that interrogatories could not be allowed at the trial stage.
Dhoni, however, submitted that the order was a well-reasoned one and was passed after hearing both parties. He added that the interrogatories were connected to the matter in dispute and their answers would pave way for effective adjudication of the right of parties. He submitted that the written statement filed by Zee was bereft of any details and therefore, answers to the interrogatories could assist the court in arriving at the truth.
The court noted that interrogatories were used only to understand the case of the opposite party and to strengthen their case. The court also noted in the present case, the interrogatories were administered after the issues were framed and there was a close nexus between the matter in question and the interrogatories.
Thus, considering the materials, the court opined that the material facts sought for in the interrogatories were not dealt with in the written statement and thus there was no ground for setting aside the order of the single judge.
“Considering the materials placed on record in the case on hand and the findings rendered above, we concur with the specific finding given by the learned Judge that the details / material facts required in the interrogatories are not dealt with in the written statement and further, no ground has been made out by the appellant for setting aside the impugned order. In such view of the matter, interrogatories have to be necessarily answered by the appellant / first defendant,” the court held.
Case Title: Zee Media Corporation Limited v Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 251