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Order VIII Rule 6A CPC -Counter Claim Can Be Set Up Only 'Against The Claim Of Plaintiffs': Supreme Court

Ashok KM
17 Aug 2022 12:56 PM GMT
Order VIII  Rule 6A CPC -Counter Claim Can Be Set Up Only Against The Claim Of Plaintiffs: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that a counter claim can be set up only "against the claim of the plaintiffs".

In this case, the plaintiffs filed a suit claiming to be owners of a property. The defendant claimed in his written statement and counter-claim that in addition to the Khasra and Killa numbers given in the plaint, he was also in possession of two other properties (not part of suit property). The Trial Court dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiff and decreed the counter claim. The First Appellate Court dismissed the appeal filed by the plaintiff. The Punjab and Haryana partly allowed the second appeal.

Before the Apex Court, the defendants contended that the High Court while deciding a second appeal did not formulate any substantial question of law, which was an essential requirement under Section 100 of the CPC. Regarding this contention, the court noticed that the present dispute is from Haryana where the governing provision would be Section 41 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918 and not Section 100 of CPC.

The court observed that though the requirement of formulation of a substantial question of law was not necessary, yet Section 41 of the Punjab Courts Act, requires that only such decisions are to be considered in second appeal which are contrary to law or to some custom or usage having the force of law or the court below have failed to determine some material issue of law or custom or usage having the force of law.

"Merely because the defendant did not raise a counter claim on this property it would not ipso facto mean that a decree ought to have been granted in favour of the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs have to prove their case on the strength of their evidence. For this reason, the reasoning given by the Second Appellate Court for decreeing the claim of the plaintiff for 15 plot nos. 21//3/2 and 7//13 is incorrect and to that extent is liable to be set aside.", the bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia observed.

Regarding the finding of Second Appellate Court regarding the counter claim of the defendants on Killa Nos. 6//18 and 23, the bench observed:

"A counter claim can be set up only "against the claim of the plaintiffs". Since there was no claim of the plaintiffs regarding Killa No. 6//8 and 23, the defendants were barred to raise any counter claim on these Killa numbers in view of Order VIII, Rule 6A of the CPC as it has nothing to do with the plaintiffs. It is true that a counter claim can be made by the defendant, even on a separate or independent cause of action (Jag Mohan Chawla & Anr. v. Dera Radha Swami Satsang & Ors.). The Legislature permits the institution of a counter claim, in order to avoid multiplicity of litigation. But then it has certain limitations such as that the counter claim cannot exceed the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of the court, and that such counter claim must be instituted before the defendant has delivered his defence or before the time limit for delivering his defence has expired. More importantly, such a counter claim must be against the plaintiff! Evidently, in the present case the counter claim was not against the plaintiffs. Moreover, as the plaintiffs had not claimed any right over the property and the Killa Nos. 6//8 and 23 are not even a part of the suit property described in the plaint by the plaintiffs. Despite the same, such a claim has been allowed against the plaintiffs. In fact, we do not find on record any reply submitted by the plaintiffs against the counter claim. To be fair, such a counter claim should have been excluded in terms of Order VIII, Rule 6C of the CPC. Suffice it to state here that the counter claim set up by the defendants has been rightly rejected by the High Court."


Case details

Satyender vs Saroj | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 679 | CA 4833 OF 2022 | 17 August 2022 | Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia

Headnotes

Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 ; Order VIII Rule 6A - A counter claim can be set up only "against the claim of the plaintiffs" - Since there was no claim of the plaintiffs regarding the property, the defendants were barred to raise any counter claim on these properties as it has nothing to do with the plaintiffs - A counter claim can be made by the defendant, even on a separate or independent cause of action. (Para 16)

Punjab Courts Act, 1918 ; Section 41 -Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 ; Section 100 - In the State of Haryana a court in second appeal is not required to formulate a substantial question of law, as what is applicable in Haryana is Section 41 of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918 and not Section 100 of CPC - But only such decisions are to be considered in second appeal which are contrary to law or to some custom or usage having the force of law or the court below have failed to determine some material issue of law or custom or usage having the force of law - Second appeal is not a forum where court has to re-examine or re-appreciate questions of fact settled by the Trial Court and the Appellate Court. (Para 10-15)

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