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Amendment of Pleadings

Pleadings can be defined as statements filed by each party to the case in writing, stating his contentions and mentioning all necessary details which the other party is required to know in order to prepare his side of the case. A plaintiff�s pleading is his plaint, which incorporates all material facts along with necessary particulars and sets out his cause of action, whereas a defendant�s pleading is his written statement in which he deals with each and every material fact alleged by the plaintiff in his statement and is also allowed to mention new facts which can be used to support his side of the argument.

This is mentioned in Order VI Rule 1 and Rule 2 of CPC. It is to be noted that the pleadings should only state material facts in a concise form and not the law or evidence. However, there are situations where the party might need to amend his pleadings before or even once the trial has commenced due to fresh information coming to his notice or new documents having been disclosed which he was initially unaware of.

These changes in circumstances might lead to him having a weaker case and thus makes it essential for him to reshape his claim or defence. It is to be kept in mind that whenever such an application for amendment is made by a party, an opportunity has to be provided to the other party to file an objection against it, otherwise the order allowing the amendment will be considered illegal and invalid until and unless the amendment is purely formal or technical in nature. It is mandatory for the court to record its reasons for allowing/disallowing any amendment.[1]

Order VI Rule 17 of CPC provides for amendment of pleadings. It states:
�The Court may at any stage of the proceedings allow either party to alter or amend his pleadings in such manner and on such terms as may be just, and all such amendments shall be made as may be necessary for the purpose of determining the real questions in controversy between the parties. Provided that no application for amendment shall be 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 trial.�

It is clear from the reading of Order VI Rule 17, CPC that it comprises of two parts- first part being discretionary (may) and the other being imperative (shall). The first part allows the court to apply its discretion while ordering amendment of pleadings, whereas the second part enjoins the court to permit all necessary amendments for the purpose of determining the real issue in controversy in the suit provided it does not cause any prejudice or injustice to the other party. This was discussed by the court in the case of Rajesh Kumar Agarwal & Ors v. K.K. Modi & Ors[2].

The primary aim of the section is to provide courts with a power to try the case on merits and allow amendments that might be required to decide the real issue in dispute between the parties. It should be kept in mind that no injustice is caused if the other side can be compensated by costs.

It is the cardinal test which ought to be satisfied for allowing any amendment. This is done by keeping in mind the larger interest of the society and for providing complete justice to the aggrieved. The court should be mindful to not allow amendments that are unnecessary or filed with a mala fide intention. This approach was taken by the court in the case of Kisandas v. Rachappa Vithoba[3] and later on reiterated in the case Pirgonda Hongonda Patil v. Kalgonda Shidgonda Patil[4].

The provisions pertaining to amendment of pleadings should be construed liberally so as to promote the ends of justice and not to defeat them. Some of the important principles that should be borne in mind while dealing with applications concerning amendment of pleadings were discussed in the case of Dalip Kaur v. Major Singh[5].

They are as follows:
  1. All amendments which are imperative for determination of the real controversy in the suit should be permitted
  2. The amendment sought should not change or modify the original cause of action on the grounds of which the initial suit was filed.
  3. Conflicting and contradictory claims in violation to the previously admitted facts should not be permitted.
  4. The amendment sought should not cause injustice to the other party.
  5. The amendment of a claim barred by time should not be permitted.
  6. No amendment which would result in defeating a legal right of the opposite party on account of lapse of time should be permitted.
  7. No party should undergo distress on account of technicalities of law. The amendment should be permitted to curtail the number of litigation between the parties.
  8. The other party should be adequately compensated by costs when there is a delay in filing an application for amendment.

The court in the case of A.K. Gupta & Sons v. Damodar Valley Corporation[6] ruled that a party should not be allowed to set up a new case or a new cause of action by way of an amendment; however if the amendment amounts to no more than a different or additional approach to the same facts, it shall be permitted even after the expiry of the limitation period in the interests of justice. The objective here is to safeguard the rights of the party and not to punish them.

The court in the case of B.K.N. Narayana Pillai v. P. Pillai & Ors[7]. discussed that the principles pertaining to amendment are equally applicable to both plaint and written statement. However, the courts seem to be more generous in admitting the amendment of the written statement than one of the plaint, as question of prejudice is less likely to occur in that case. The defendant in his defence has the right to take an alternative plea, which is subject to an exception that the amendment sought should not result in causing prejudice to the other party and that any admission made in the favour of the plaintiff cannot be taken back. All the other principles that were laid down in the case of Dalip Kaur v. Major Singh[8] were reiterated in this case.

The court even has a right to reject the leave to amend where it thinks that the amendment sought is unnecessary for the purpose of determining the real issue in dispute between the parties; introduces an entirely new and different case which could lead to a change in the fundamental character of the primary suit; where the result of the amendment sought is to revoke from the other party a legal right arising in his favour; or where the application made for amendment is not done in good faith.

  1. Takwani, C. and Thakker, M., 2017. Civil Procedure. 8th ed. Lucknow: Eastern Book Co., p.188-196.
  2. Rajesh Kumar Agarwal & Ors v. K.K. Modi & Ors (2006) 4 SCC 385
  3. Kisandas v. Rachappa Vithoba (1909) 11 Bom LR 1042
  4. Pirgonda Hongonda Patil v. Kalgonda Shidgonda Patil 1957 SCR 559
  5. Dalip Kaur v. Major Singh AIR 1996 P&H 107
  6. A.K. Gupta & Sons v. Damodar Valley Corporation AIR 1967 SC 96
  7. B.K.N. Narayana Pillai v. P. Pillai & Ors (2000) 1 SCC 712
  8. Dalip Kaur v. Major Singh AIR 1996 P&H 107

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