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Enforced Compliance: Commercial Courts Can Refuse To Admit Delayed Written Submissions

Sanskriti Tiwari ,
  20 November 2023       Share Bookmark

Court :
The High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam
Brief :

Citation :
OP(C) No. 591 of 2023

CASE TITLE:

Anil MP and Ors. vs. Capital Finserv Ltd.

PARTIES:-

Petitioners:-

  1. Anil MP
  2. Mini KS

Respondent: Capital Finserv Ltd.

DATE OF THE CASE:

8th March, 2023

BENCH/JUDGE:

Justice CS Dias

SUBJECT:-

Commercial Court dismisses petition challenging delayed filing of written statement in a money recovery suit. Upheld decision cites mandatory timeframe for filing per amended Code of Civil Procedure, leading to dismissal of petition under Article 227.

 

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:-

Certainly, the important provisions cited in the case are:-

 

  1. Section 16 of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015:-

This section amends the Code of Civil Procedure's application to commercial disputes, specifically impacting Orders V and VIII, emphasizing the timeframe for filing the written statement.

 

  1. Article 227 of the Constitution of India:-

The provision under which the original petition sought interference by the Court, but was deemed unnecessary due to the strict adherence mandated by the amended provisions of the Code.

 

OVERVIEW:-

  • The case involves a petition filed by defendants challenging an order by the Commercial Court, Ernakulam. The petitioners had sought acceptance of their written statement, filed after the mandated timeframe, in a money recovery suit initiated by the plaintiff.
  • The court's decision was based on the amended provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, specifically Orders V and VIII, stipulating a 120-day timeframe for defendants to file their written statement in commercial disputes. The court emphasized the mandatory nature of this timeframe, citing previous judgments by the Supreme Court, which interpreted and reinforced the strict adherence to these provisions.
  • The petition, seeking interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, was dismissed as the court found no error in the Commercial Court's decision to reject the delayed application for the written statement. The dismissal was grounded in the strict compliance required by the amended provisions of the Code, rendering Article 227 unnecessary in this context.

 

ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT:-

The key issues raised in the case are:-

  1. Whether the delayed filing of the written statement by the defendants, beyond the stipulated timeframe of 120 days as mandated by the amended provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, warranted acceptance by the Commercial Court.
  2. The interpretation of Section 16 of the Commercial Courts Act, which amends the Code, specifically Orders V and VIII, regarding the mandatory nature of the timeframe for filing the written statement in commercial disputes.
  3. Whether the petitioners' plea for interference by the court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India was justified, considering the strict compliance required by the amended provisions of the Code.

CONTENTIONS RAISED BY PETITIONERS:-

The contentions raised by the petitioners were:

  1. The petitioners argued that due to misplaced documents, they couldn't file their written statement within the prescribed time.
  2. They emphasized that upon tracing the documents, they promptly filed the written statement along with the application to accept it on record.
  3. They contested the Commercial Court's decision to reject their application, deeming it unjustified, irrational, and improper, thus seeking redressal through the petition.

CONTENTIONS RAISED BY RESPONDENT:-

The contentions raised by the respondent, the plaintiff in the case, are:-

  1. Emphasizing the mandatory nature of the stipulated timeframe for filing the written statement as per the amended provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure.
  2. Arguing that the Commercial Court acted in accordance with the law by rejecting the delayed application, adhering to the strict timelines mandated for filing the written statement.
  3. Asserting that allowing the delayed submission might prejudice the plaintiff's case or disrupt the fair and timely progression of the legal proceedings.

ANALYSIS BY COURT:-

The court made the following observations:

  1. Highlighted a discrepancy in the dates presented by the petitioners regarding their appearance in the suit, emphasizing that the petitioners entered appearance on a different date than claimed in the original petition.
  2. Acknowledged that the application to accept the written statement was filed after a considerable delay, specifically after one year from the initiation of the suit.
  3. Emphasized the mandatory nature of the amended provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, citing Supreme Court judgments that interpreted and reinforced the strict adherence to the timeframe for filing the written statement in commercial disputes.
  4. Asserted that based on the amended provisions and their interpretation by the Supreme Court, the Commercial Court's decision to reject the application was justified and did not warrant interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

JUDGMENT:-

In the judgment, the court upheld the decision of the Commercial Court, Ernakulam, which had rejected the petitioners' application to accept their delayed written statement. The court emphasized the mandatory nature of the amended provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, citing previous Supreme Court judgments that reinforced the strict adherence to the timeframe for filing the written statement in commercial disputes.

The court noted discrepancies in dates presented by the petitioners and highlighted the considerable delay in filing the written statement, which was beyond the stipulated timeframe. Based on the interpretation of the amended provisions and their mandatory nature, the court concluded that the Commercial Court's rejection of the application was justified and did not warrant interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. Consequently, the original petition was dismissed.

CONCLUSION:-

The conclusion of the case rests on the strict adherence required by the amended provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure in commercial disputes. The court upheld the Commercial Court's decision to reject the delayed filing of the written statement by the defendants, emphasizing the mandatory nature of the prescribed timeframe.

Citing previous Supreme Court judgments, the court reiterated the importance of timely compliance with the filing requirements. The dismissal of the original petition was based on the understanding that the Commercial Court's decision aligned with the strict provisions outlined in the Code, thus not warranting interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

 
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