Order XII Rule 6 CPC | Admission Of Fact For Pronouncing Judgment Must Be Unequivocal, Independent, Divorced From Conditions: Calcutta High Court
The Calcutta High Court recently in hearing an application under Order XII Rule 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure ("CPC") for pronouncement of judgment on the basis of admissions made, held that an admission of fact made by way of pleadings or otherwise either orally or in written form must be unequivocal, independent and unconditional so as to warrant exercise of judicial discretion in passing a judgment on the sole basis of such admission.
The instant proceedings arose out of a suit filed by the plaintiffs seeking a decretal amount to the tune of Rs. 16,01,89,691 together with interest against the defendant no. 8 whereunder the instant application under Order XII Rule 6 was filed by the plaintiffs on the basis of an admission made by the said defendant in a Minutes of Meeting dated October 1, 2020. Counsels for the defendant no. 8 successfully contended that the admission made by the defendant no. 8 was neither unconditional nor unequivocal as the said Minutes recorded a mutual agreement containing non-severable and reciprocal obligations by and between the parties to resolve all pending disputes by way of out-of-court settlement whereby the defendant no. 8 agreed to pay the due and payable amount sought to be decreed by the plaintiffs in the instant suit upon withdrawal of such suit.
Rejecting the application on merits, Single Judge Bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya laid down two broad statutory preconditions governing exercise of judicial discretion in pronouncing a judgment on the sole basis of admissions made in terms Order XII Rule 6 CPC as being: firstly, the admission must be capable of standing on its own and sustain an independent life and form when separated from the context or circumstance wherefrom it arises, secondly, such an admission must bear the character of being unequivocal, independent and unconditional with the view that the statutory preconditions for giving effect to an admission by way of a judgment under Order XII Rule 6 would not be met if the admission, on the basis whereof the judgment is sought to be pronounced, would fulfil the aforestated preconditions only when such it is evaluated conjunctively with other considerations of the admission itself.
The Court held:
"The statutory premise of Order XII Rule 6 of The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908- "Judgment on Admissions" - is that a party making an admission of fact in a pleading or otherwise whether in an oral or written form will be held to it on the application of the other party or the Court on its own motion. The admission so made may be transformed to an order or judgment by the Court subject to its discretionary considerations and solely confined to such admission. The pre-condition to a judgment being pronounced on the admission made by a party is that the admission must be capable of standing on its own and sustain its life and form even when taken out of the context. In other words, the admission, relied on by the party, who seeks to enforce it against the party which made the admission, must not be emasculated when pulled out of its surrounding circumstances. The admission used for pronouncing judgments must be unequivocal, independent and unconditional. It cannot be an admission which would fulfill the aforesaid conditions only when placed in conjunction with other conditions closely intertwined with the admission. Since Order XII Rule 6 empowers the Court to pronounce judgments on the admission without waiting for determination of the other questions between the parties, the admission must remain true to the spirit in which it has been used in the Code."
In arriving at the decision, the Court poised to the finding that the admission of the defendant no. 8 was conditional upon the plaintiff's withdrawal of the suit, as was evident from the Minutes of the Meeting and consequently, such an admission of the defendant no. 8 was neither unequivocal, unconditional, separate nor independent from the conditions attached thereto as was mutually decided by and between the parties in the said Meeting. The Court further observed that the plaintiffs, having resiled from the promise to withdraw the suit, would not be at liberty to seek enforcement of promises advantageous to itself and the same if allowed would amount to re-writing the Minutes of the Meeting in a manner inconsistent to the conditions mutually agreed by and between the parties.
Construing the legislative object behind Order XII Rule 6 CPC in respect of the precondition of sustaining an admission independently and disjunctively from any other condition intertwined with the admission within the factual matrix of the instant proceeding, the Court observed that the admission made by the defendant no. 8 to pay outstanding dues to the plaintiff would become deflated if were not to be coupled with the corresponding obligation of the plaintiff to withdraw the suit, noting further that in the absence of such withdrawal of the suit, the admission becomes conditional and a one-half reciprocal promise.
While the Court relied on Shin Satellite Public Co. Ltd. v. Jain Studios Ltd., (2006) 2 SCC 628 and B.O.I Finance Ltd. v. Custodian; (1997)10 SCC 488 insofar as noting the position of law on the competence of Courts to dissect trivial or technical parts of the admission from the main or substantial parts which are lawful and capable of being enforced and on Uttam Singh Dugal & Co. Ltd. v. Union Bank of India, (2000) 7 SCC 120 to note that the Court can pass a decree on admitted claims in circumstances where it would be impossible for the party making a clear admission to succeed against an Order XII Rule 6 application, the Court however, was more inclined to accept ruling of the Court in Birendra Nath Mallick v. Brahma Brata Roy; 1950 CWN 439 on the point of law that it would not be open to the plaintiff to seek pronouncement of judgment on the basis of admissions surreptitiously split from the conditions attached therewith so as to take advantage of one part of the admission and repudiate the other.
Accordingly, the Court directed the enforcement of the admission made by the defendant no. 8 in conjunction with conditions attached therewith, which the Court deemed to form the crux of the Minutes of the Meeting, and in accordance with terms as was mutually agreed by and between the parties.
Case: Square Four Assets Management & Reconstruction Co. P. Ltd & Ors. v. Orient Beverages Ltd. & Ors, CS 144 of 2016
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 333