This case was initially instituted before the Civil Judge, Senior Division at Nagpur, culminating into an appeal to the Supreme Court. In the original plaint, the plaintiff was the petitioner before the Supreme Court
Date of decision:
Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice M R Shah
Parties to the case:
Petitoner: Sayyed Ayaz Ali
Respondent: Prakash G Goyal
Revision of plaint after decree of rejection
Can a plaintiff be allowed to revise the plaint after an order has been passed under Order VII Rule 11 clause (d) rejecting the plaint?
- This case was initially instituted before the Civil Judge, Senior Division at Nagpur, culminating into an appeal to the Supreme Court. In the original plaint, the plaintiff was the petitioner before the Supreme Court.
- The plaintiff borrowed some money at an interest from the defendants, (respondents before the Supreme Court) during April-May 2012, and as a security against the loan. They demanded that a sale deed related to a particular plot of land be executed in their name, which was done by the plaintiff.
- In November, 2012, various defendants colluded to extract their money from the plaintiff and to that end, forcefully entered into the property of the plaintiff. They were charged under various provisions of the IPC, related to formation of unlawful assembly, rioting, dishonest or fraudulent removal or concealment of property and criminal trespass.
- During the suit, the plaintiff and 2 of the respondents arrived at a compromise where the plaintiff paid his dues to the defendants and they agreed not to execute the sale deed in return.
- On 26.11.12, the plaintiff filed a suit seeking a declaration of the acts of the other miscreant defendants as criminal and a permanent perpetual injunction against the defendants restraining them from interfering in the peaceful possession of the property by the plaintiff. The defendants made an application that since the plaintiff has not made any mention of quashing the sale deed in the plaint, the plaint cannot be maintained as per Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, and therefore, must be rejected as being barred by law, as prescribed under Order VII Rule 11 clause (d) of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
- The Civil Judge accepted the application and rejected the plaint and passed a decree to that effect, but at the same time, gave the plaintiff some time to make changes to the plaint to the end of fulfilling the requirements of Sec. 34 of the S.R.A, 1963, as provided for under Order VII Rule 11 clause (b).
- Aggrieved by the order of giving time to the plaintiff, the defendants filed a civil revision application before the High Court on 11.09.17, seeking to overturn the judgement of the Civil Judge to that end.
- In reply, the plaintiff filed a writ petition on 23.07.18 seeking to overturn the judgement of the Civil Judge to the extent of rejecting the plaint. The High Court said that the Civil Judge had made an error in giving time to the plaintiff, as he had already rejected the plaint under Order VII Rule 11 clause (d), and any such rejection is absolute and cannot be rectified establishing that a plaintiff cannot be allowed to revise the plaint after an order has been passed under Order VII Rule 11 clause (d) rejecting the plaint.
- Further, the HC said that the writ petition filed by the plaintiff was a belated exercise, considering the time that had lapsed between the defendant’s application and the plaintiff’s writ petition, and consequently, quashed the order.
So, the plaintiff made an appeal to the Supreme Court, where the case now lays.
Judgement of the Supreme Court
- The Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the High Court and dismissed the appeal on the ground of it not being in consonance with the requirements as given under Section 96 of CPC, 1908.
- It took recourse to the definition of decree as given under Section 2(2) of the Act, and said that since a decree included the rejection of a plaint, any objection to the decree passed by the Civil Judge was subject to a first appeal under Section 96.
- Therefore, the writ petition of the petitioner was liable to be rejected by the High Court. But at the same time, it gave the petitioner the freedom to pursue alternate legal remedies available to him, as per Order VII Rule 13 of the Code.
- The Supreme Court also affirmed the judgement of the HC to the end of allowing the revision application filed by the first and second defendant, related to quashing the order passed by the Civil Judge of giving time to the plaintiff to edit the plaint.
- By upholding the judgement of the HC, the Supreme Court also reiterated that a plaintiff cannot be allowed to revise the plaint after an order has been passed under Order VII Rule 11 clause (d) rejecting the plaint.
- Excessive and undue reliance was placed on Section 34 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The presence of ‘may’ shows the discretionary, or rather non-binding nature of the provision upon the plaintiff. But throughout this case, this ‘may’ was considered as a ‘shall’, to the extent of rejecting the plaint altogether, which was an injustice to the petitioner.
- The wordings of Section 34 make it discretionary, its non-compliance should not have been considered as being “barred by law” which eventually led to the rejection of the petition.
- The dichotomy in the decisions of the Civil Judge must have been avoided. If the order of amending the plea under Order VII Rule 11 clause (b) was to be given, he should not have passed an order under clause (d) to reject the plaint altogether. This was a grave injustice to the petitioner.
- When the Supreme Court considered the definition of decree as under Sec.2(2), it only considered the words “include the rejection of a plaint”. But the Court should also have considered that a decree does not include “any order for dismissal for default” while considering the status of the plaint in the court of the Civil Judge. The plaint could have been considered as being dismissed for default, as the Civil Judge also passed an order to rectify the ‘defaults’ in the plaint.
On the basis of the above judgement, it can be concluded that a favourable interpretation of law in the interest of the petitioner could have served the ends of justice. But due to some faults at each level, actual justice could not be achieved.
Click here to download the original copy of the judgement