Date Of Decision:
Justice Asha Menon
Parties To The Case:
Petitioner/Plaintiff: M/S BDR Developers Pvt. Ltd.
Respondent/Defendant: Narsingh Shah alias Narsingh Sah
Amendment of Admissions
Can an admission be amended under Order VI Rule 17, even after the judgement has been reserved under Order XII Rule 6?
- This judgement was a common order given by the High Court of Delhi after clubbing four other cases with the same issues.
- The petitioner/plaintiff was a landlord who gave some premises to the respondent/defendants at a monthly rent of Rs. 50,000.
- The respondent/defendants failed to pay the rent for a period of two months in continuation. As a result, the petitioner/plaintiff instituted a suit for eviction of the respondent/defendant tenants.
- The Trial Court heard the arguments of both the sides, with the counsel for the petitioner/plaintiff contending that since the respondent/defendant has admitted the necessary facts, the order must be passed under Order XII Rule 6.
- The Trial Court reserved the order to be given on 01.08.2000, but later adjourned it to 04.08.2000.
- Meanwhile, the respondent/defendants repeatedly changed their counsel and took adjournments. The last counsel they decided made an application under Order VI Rule 17, to make an amendment in their pleadings.
- The judge accepted the application and decided to hear the revised arguments on 14.08.2000. This was opposed by the counsel for the petitioner/plaintiff but the objections weren’t heeded to.
- The petitioner/plaintiff made an application to the Delhi High Court against this practice of the trial judge. The High Court ordered the deferment of the hearing and also ordered to pay an amount of Rs. 50,000/month for the arrears due to the respondent/defendants.
- Order VI Rule 17: It relates to the amendment of pleadings and gives the court the power to allow either party to amend or alter their pleadings during the proceedings, if the said amendment is necessary to decide upon the actual questions.
- Order XII Rule 6: It deals with the provision of judgement on admissions. Under it, if a party admits a fact in their pleadings, in either oral or written form, the Court would be empowered to pass an order deciding the issue based on the admissions and without considering the other questions, even if they are left undecided.
JUDGEMENT OF THE HIGH COURT
- The principal question before the High Court was whether the Trial Court was correct in allowing the amendment application when it had reserved its order.
- The Court decided to look into the wordings of Order VI Rule 17 and Order XII Rule 6 and when they were compared with the wordings of Order IX Rule 7, and found that while in Order VI Rule 17, the wordings were “at any time during the proceedings” while in Order IX Rule 7, the word used was “hearing”. The Court referred to various judgements and understood that the wordings of the former meant that the amendment could be done any time before the passing of the judgement.
- To that end, the Court also looked into the difference between a judgement and an order and found that the judgement is generally a final judgement when all the matters are decided, while the orders can be made anytime during the proceedings, and even on small matters like adjournment, non-compliance of rules of evidence etc.
- The Court held that in the present case, the Trial Judge had reserved the order, not the judgement, which meant that the proceedings were still in continuation since all the questions were not decided upon. Therefore, the High Court affirmed the decision of the Trial Court to allow the application for the amendment in the plain as it was well within its power to do so.
- The High Court was correct in affirming the Trial Court's decision, and made a favorable interpretation of the provision to serve the ends of justice.
- The Trial Court was also legally correct in allowing the application to amend the plaint, in the sense that the trial was incomplete as the counsel for the petitioner/plaintiff demanded a judgement on admissions, without answering all the questions.
- However, the Trial Court, while exercising its discretion under Order VI Rule 17, should have taken into consideration the recurring change in the counsels by the respondent/defendants, because had the final counsel not made an application, the respondent/defendants would have lost the case. In a manner, the change caused harm to the prospects of the petitioner/plaintiff.
In conclusion, it can be said that an admission be amended under Order VI Rule 17, even after the judgement has been reserved under Order XII Rule 6.
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