Is Amendment Of Pleadings Allowed After Commencement Of Trial? SC Explains [Read Judgment]

Is Amendment Of Pleadings Allowed After Commencement Of Trial? SC Explains [Read Judgment]

"Though normally amendments are allowed in the pleadings to avoid multiplicity of litigation, the Court needs to take into consideration whether the application for amendment is bona fide or mala fide and whether the amendment causes such prejudice to the other side which cannot be compensated adequately in terms of money."

The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on Thursday, explained when and on what considerations an application for amendment of pleadings filed after commencement of Trial, can be allowed.

The bench comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar observed that, while dealing with such an application, the courts have to consider whether it is bona fide or mala fide and whether it causes such prejudice to the other side which cannot be compensated adequately in terms of money.

The court was considering a case (M. Revanna vs. Anjanamma) where the plaintiffs in a partition suit, much after the Trial had commenced, made an application Order VI Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure for amendment of the plaint. In the application, they wanted to plead that the partition had already taken place in the year 1972 and they are not interested to pursue the suit.

The bench laid down the settled proposition of law regarding amendment of plaint. The bench said:

"Leave to amend may be refused if it introduces a totally different, new and inconsistent case, or challenges the fundamental character of the suit. The proviso to Order VI Rule 17 of the CPC virtually prevents an application for amendment of pleadings from being allowed after the trial has commenced, unless the Court comes to the conclusion that in spite of due diligence, the party could not have raised the matter before the commencement of the trial. The proviso, to an extent, curtails absolute discretion to allow amendment at any stage. Therefore, the burden is on the person who seeks an amendment after commencement of the trial to show that in spite of due diligence, such an amendment could not have been sought earlier. There cannot be any dispute that an amendment cannot be claimed as a matter of right, and under all circumstances. Though normally amendments are allowed in the pleadings to avoid multiplicity of litigation, the Court needs to take into consideration whether the application for amendment is bona fide or mala fide and whether the amendment causes such prejudice to the other side which cannot be compensated adequately in terms of money."

In the facts of the case, the bench held that the instant application for amendment of the plaint was not only belated but also not bona fide, and if allowed, would change the nature and character of the suit and would cause serious prejudice to the defendants. The court said, if the amendment is allowed it would tantamount to allowing the plaintiffs to withdraw their admission made in the plaint that the partition had not taken place earlier.

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