- The Civil Procedure Code (CPC) was formulated to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the procedure of courts of civil judicature.
- Order 7 Rule 1 of the CPC provides certain particulars which are required to be stated in the Plaint.
- These particulars are necessary to be complied with otherwise it becomes a ground for the rejection of a Plaint under Rule 11 of Order 7.
- The following judgements make it abundantly clear that Order 7 is not merely a procedure, but a tool to ensure that multiplicity of suits, error in judgements, etc is avoided and justice is administered.
Order 7 of the CPC enumerates the rules of drafting a Plaint. The term Plaint is not defined anywhere in this Code, but it is said to be the pleadings of the plaintiff. It is a document containing the contentions of the plaintiff and the relief claimed by him. It is a statement of the cause of action of the party presenting it.
Rule 1 of Order 7 states that a Plaint must contain the name of the court along with facts showing that the court has jurisdiction, name and residence of plaintiff and defendant, cause of action, the relief sought by the plaintiff, and the value of the subject matter of the suit. If the suit is for the recovery of money, then the exact amount shall be stated.
There have been many instances wherein the court has simply rejected the Plaint under Rule 11 (Rejection of Plaint), only because the essential elements given under Rule 1 are not complied with. Further in this article, we are going to go through these judgements which bring out the significance of Rule 1 of Order 7 of the CPC.
1. Jaharlal Pagalia V. Union of India (1958)
This case involved an application for the amendment of Plaint. While passing the order, the High Court of Calcutta observed that the facts constituting the cause of action must precede the suit. Section 80 (Notice) of the CPC, has to necessarily specify the cause of action.
Though the drafting of Plaint is a matter of procedure, the cause of action and when it arose must be stated as given under Order 7, Rule 1(e). In the absence of cause of action, the plaintiff has no locus standi.
Even though a delay was shown on the part of the plaintiff, the Court allowed him to amend the Plaint under Order 6 Rule 17, since the delay had in no way caused any harm to either of the parties in the suit.
2. Somnath V.Tipanna Ramchandra Jannu (1972)
Order 7 Rule 1 (d) dictates that if the plaintiff or defendant is of an unsound mind or a minor, then it should be expressly reflected in the Plaint. In this case, the Bombay High Court held that it is the duty of the court to hold an inquiry in such cases.
The next friend of the plaintiff is not required to make a separate application. The court can summon the plaintiff and question him to test his mental capacity. It can also take further assistance from a doctor in the form of a medical examination.
3. N.D. Khanna V. Hindustan Industrial (1981)
The Delhi Rent Control Rules, 1959 states that in the absence of any procedure, theController and the Tribunal shall follow the provision of the CPC. Hence, the provisions were applicable in this case under the Rent Control Act.
The Delhi High Court concluded that the application for eviction filed by the applicant did not contain the facts explaining the cause of action to claim eviction. Hence, the mandatory requirement of complying with Order 7 Rule 1 was flouted. As a result, the eviction petition was rejected as per Rule 11 of Order 7.
The defendants, in this case, objected that the court had no jurisdiction to try and entertain the suit. Even the Plaint did not indicate any fact showing the territorial jurisdiction over the suit.
The Court held that the plaintiff is under an obligation under Order 7 Rule 1 to prove that the court has jurisdiction. In the instant case, the plaintiff had failed to discharge his duties. Hence, irrespective of the merits of the case, the Court refused to grant the relief of injunction in the absence of territorial and pecuniary jurisdiction.
In this case, Justice S. Subramani held that the main purpose of the mechanism of counter-claim is to prevent the multiplicity of suits between the same parties. Hence, an application for counter-claim must be treated as a Plaint. It shall also be subjected to the rules of Plaint contained in Order 7 Rule 1 of the CPC.
This is because Plaint is not defined in this Code, but it must contain the relevant facts of the case which led to the cause of action. In this case, the counter-claim did not adhere to this, hence the appeal was not maintainable and barred by res judicata.
The question before the Karnataka High Court was whether a petition for final decree shall contain all the particulars as specified under Order 7 Rule 1 of the CPC? The court held that Order 7 applies to the Plaint and Order 8 applies to the Written Statements.
The court held that a petition to draw a final decree is neither a Plaint nor a Written Statement as defined under Order 6 Rule 1 of the CPC. Therefore, if the document is not a Plaint, it is not essential that it shall contain all the particulars as given under Order 7 Rule 1 of the CPC.
7. Harnarain Singh V. Satish Kumar and Anr (2016)
The question before the court was whether the suit should be dismissed because of failure on the part of the plaintiff to comply with Order 7 Rule 1 (j). As for the fact in issue, the Court held that the plaintiff was expected to be vigilant and execute a sale deed but failed to do so. Hence, he has no right to enforce an agreement through specific performance.
With respect to the technical objection of non-compliance with the particulars of Order 7 Rule 1, the court held in favour of the plaintiff to the effect that a cause of action otherwise did accrue to them and on that ground only, the suit could not be dismissed. Clause (j), which is applicable only in the State of Punjab, mandates that a Plaint shall contain a statement that no suit between the same parties had been previously instituted on the same cause of action.
The plaintiff, in this case, had filed a suit for mandatory injunction and damages/mesne profits. Upon the question of court fees, the court took cognizance of the fact that there was no written license deed. It was held by the court that the plaintiff has thus failed to comply with the particulars of Order 7 Rule 1 (i) CPC. They should have disclosed the market value of the subject property which is a relevant fact under Section 7 (v) (e) of the Court Fees Act.
Under civil law, a Plaint is considered to be an important document because it is the foremost and initial stage to initiate any lawsuit and helps to determine the appropriate jurisdiction of the court in that matter. If the procedure given under Order 7 is not followed, it opens up a spectrum of potential errors in passing judgements.
Thus, it is imperative to follow the due procedure to avoid any rejection by the Court. However, this has also created a lot of chaos in the civil system due to the presence of many Orders and Rules under the CPC for the regulation of plaint rejection, formation, and drafting of the pleadings.