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  • Order XI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 provides for provisions which enable the parties of a suit or a case to exchange information about the witnesses or the evidence.
  • Interrogatories are covered under Section 30 and Order XI Rule 1 to 11, 21 and 22 of CPC. They are the formal written questions that are administered by the parties to the opposite party with the leave of the court.
  • The objective of such a provision in CPC is so that the parties disclose their case and ascertain the truth. A party may want to send interrogatories to the opposite party for two reasons- to understand the case of the opposite party and to strengthen their own case.


There are two types of laws in a legal system- substantive laws and procedural laws. While substantive laws contain the rights and duties of the citizens, the procedural laws determine the procedure for enforcing such rights and regulations. Therefore, procedures are one of the essential elements of rule of law. The code of civil procedure, 1908 is a procedural law which determines the administration of civil proceedings in India. It provides separate chapters to determine that both the parties of a conflict get a chance of fair trial.

Order XI of CPC provides for provisions which enables the parties to exchange information about the witnesses and evidences produced before the court during the trial. The procedure of discovery comes under this order. This procedure deals with ‘Facto probanda’i.e., the facts with constitute the case of a party and does not deal with ‘Facto probantia’i.e., the facts which will be considered as evidence if proven. Thus, Only ‘Facto Probanda’ can be asked by the parties.


Discovery is defined under order XI of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. This term refers to a pre-trial process in which each party is given opportunity to obtain evidence from the opposite party. It is a formal process where each party can question the other party about the witnesses and evidence that will be presented to the court during the trial. This is done with the object of making both parties aware about the plaint made and the issues raised.

The parties can ask to court to pass an order for the discovery of required facts and documents from the opposite party. The court has the discretion to decide whether the material asked by the other party is covered as per the scope of ‘Discovery’ under CPC.

Discovery can be of two types- discovery of documents and discovery by interrogatories. Discovery of documents is where one party compels the other party to produce the documents, they are relying on other than the evidence. Whereas, discovery by interrogatories is when the same is asked through questions.


“Discovery by interrogatories” is defined as following in the CPC Order XI:

“In any suit the plaintiff or defendant by leave of the Court may deliver interrogatories in writing for the examination of the opposite parties or any one or more of such parties and such interrogatories when delivered shall have a note at the foot thereof stating which of such interrogatories each of such persons is required to answer.”

Interrogatories are covered under Section 30 and Order XI Rule 1 to 11, 21 and 22 of CPC. They are the formal written questions that are administered by the parties to the opposite party with the leave of the court.The party to whom the questions were asked have to give reply to the other party in writing and under oath. Thus, when the case is disclosed by one party with affidavit and under the oath to the other party, on the direction the court it is known as ‘Discovery by interrogatories.’


Interrogatories must be limited to the facts and they cannot include conclusions of law, they cannot be constructions of words or document or inferences based on the facts. Interrogatories can be set aside on the ground that they are unreasonable or can be struck out on the ground that they are prolix, oppressive, unnecessary or scandalous. The court can direct conditions and limitations about what the interrogatories should cover.

Objective behind interrogatories

The objective of such a provision in CPC is so that the parties disclose their case and ascertain the truth. A party may want to send interrogatories to the opposite party for two reasons- to understand the case of the opposite party and to strengthen their own case.

Asking the opposite party about the case will make the nature of the case and the facts very clear in case it was not so from the suit filed. When we know what documents the other party is relying on and make the other party do admissions, we strengthen our case as we know what to prepare for. This in turn could also help in destroying the opponent’s case.


  • The parties which need the information shall file an application before that court stating the subject of the interrogatories and as per Rule 2 the court shall decide in 7 days.
  • Both plaintiff and the defendant have the right to conduct interrogatories. It can also be conducted by one plaintiff to another plaintiff or by one defendant to another defendant.
  • According to Rule 2, While deciding upon such application the court shall take into consideration the following things-
  1. Any offer which may be made by the party to be interrogated to deliver particulars;
  2. to make admissions;
  3. to produce documents relating to the matters in question or any of them.
  • The court can further also consider the possibility of disposing the suit fairly, if necessary, in a case or for saving costs.
  • The parties cannot deliver more than one set of interrogatories to the same party without an order for that purpose and the interrogatories which do not relate to any matters in question in the suit are irrelevant. The set of questions provided can only be ‘question of fact’ and not ‘question of law’.
  • The party which was administered the interrogatories will have to file the affidavit to answer within 10 days of the service. And if they fail to do so then the suit will be dismissed in the case if the party is the plaintiff and if the party is the defendant, their defence may be struck off.( Rule 21)
  • According to Rule 4 of order XI interrogatories shall be filed as per the form provided in Appendix C form no. 2 of CPC. And the reply to the interrogatories is filed with an affidavit in the form provided in appendix C form no. 3 of CPC. They can be varied as per need.

Against whom are Interrogatories allowed?

Rule 5 of Order XI says that, if any party to a suit is a- corporation or a body of persons which, may or may not be incorporated and are empowered by law to sue or be sued whether in its own name or name of any other person or officer interrogatories can be filed against them.

It is important to mention the name of the person or the offices to whom the question are to be served if a body corporate is a party to the suit.


The parties can raise objections on the following grounds according to Rule 6 of Order XI:

  1. That it is scandalous;
  2. That it is irrelevant;
  3. That it is not exhibited bona fide for the purpose of the suit;
  4. That the materials inquired into are not sufficiently material at that stage;
  5. On the ground of privilege or on any other ground.

More Rules as to Interrogatories

  • According Rule 6 of Order XI, the opposite part can only object to some of the interrogatories but not all. Rule 7 says that if the opposite party wants to object to the interrogatories,then the application for this should be made within seven days after the service of the interrogatories.
  • Rule 11 of Order XI says that, if any person who is interrogated fails to answer or responds insufficiently, the party that is interrogating may apply to the court for an order requiring the other party to answer or to answer further either by affidavit or viva voce examination.
  • According to Rule 22 of Order XI,the answers given in the interrogatories can be used by the opposite party as evidence at the trial of the suit. Provided that the court shall first check the whole answer and determine that the part of the answer used as evidence is connected to the whole answer or is it adverse in nature.


It is in the court’s discretion to permit interrogatories or to deny them. There are no prescribed provisionswhich state exactly what is permissible and what is not however, the court has been seen to deny the administration of interrogatories by one party to the other.

Permissible interrogatories

As discussed earlier, interrogatories are allowed when there is a need in clarification of the facts and issues by the opposite party. They can either help in proving the case of a party of by destroying the case of another by the admissions made by them. Both the parties have ‘right to information’ under this rule. Interrogatories are granted on the leave of the court and the power of the court to order interrogatories is not restrictive and shall be exercised liberally.

Interrogatories may be allowed by the court if the subject matter of it is relevant to “the matter in issue”. “Matter” here signifies any question of issue related to the dispute in the suit. The court cannot discard interrogatories or disallow them merely because there could be other ways to prove the fact in question. Interrogatories need not be material facts; they can also be evidence by which parties want to establish a fact at the trial.

Non- permissible interrogatories

The court can disallow administrating interrogatories in the following cases-

  • If the facts that the party wants to obtain is exclusively evidence of the case.
  • If it involves privileged or confidential information like communication between opponent and his legal advisor.
  • If it is regarding question of law.
  • If it involves information that is injurious to public interest.
  • If it is not relevant to the suit.

The parties cannot ask question of the nature of cross-examination and interrogatories of the nature of fishing and roving inquiries are not permitted.


1. Govind Narayan and Ors. Vs. Nagendra Nagada and Ors.

In this case the Rajasthan High court observed the importance of interrogatories and also Importance of the time period in which it shall be filed.The court observed that “the whole purpose of interrogatories is to seek admission of a party on matter in dispute so that the issues can be accordingly framed, minimizing the contentious issues or disputes left for the adjudication of the Court, with the ultimate object of facilitating an early and expeditious disposal of the suit.”

The court also observed that the purpose of providing the procedure of discovery by interrogatories under CPC is to save time and expenses and to shorten the litigation.

The court held that reading Section 30 of CrPC and Rule 1 of Order XI of CPC together it is clear that “the Court can allow service of interrogatories, at any stage of the suit, for which it has been conferred wider discretion, but at the same time, the discretion must be exercised in a judicious way.” It was also held that the information that is sought to be furnished must have some nexus or relevancy with the dispute in question.

The court made it clear that the stage of the suit is very important aspect while deciding an application permitting interrogatories. Therefore, it was held that while the court can be very liberal while allowing the interrogatories at the initial stage of a suit but the same cannot be done at the advanced stage of the trial. “Interrogatories cannot be permitted, once the evidence of the concerned opposite party is over”, said the court.

2. Samir Sen v Rita Ghosh

In this case the petitioner filed an application under order XI five months after the closure of evidence of plaintiff and respondent in trial court. The lower court dismissed the application on the ground of delay in time. The aggrieved then filed an appeal in the High court.

The Jharkhand High Court dismissed the writ petition and observed that as per Order XIII CPC, the parties are required to produce their original documents on which their claim is founded at the time of presentation of the plaint or while filing the written statement of defence.


The provisions of Order XI in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 ensure that both the parties have equal opportunities and a fair trial is conducted. These provisions are important in our legal system as their main objective is to save the court’s time and cost of litigation to the parties. This provision grants the parties “right to information” from the opponent parties. The process of interrogatories narrows the issues and makes the trial less time-consuming.

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