Pleadings in civil suit cannot be amended after the trial has begun

Pandit Mahale Vs Monika Mahale

Supreme Court

10/01/2020

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 189 of 2020

About/from the judgment:

The Supreme Court recently held that an application to amend the pleadings in a civil suit can be allowed after the commencement of trial, only under a specific condition.

 

While dealing with a matter concerning a partition suit between a husband and his wife and children, the Court observed that once a trial has begun, an amendment application cannot be allowed unless the Court is satisfied that the plaintiff could not have raised the issues in the amendment application at the stage prior to the commencement of the trial, despite due diligence.

 

After the present case reached the stage of evidence, one of the plaintiffs filed an amendment application. The same was allowed by the trial judge, but was objected to by the defendant in the case, who filed a writ against the same before the High Court.

 

The High Court dismissed the writ and agreed with the findings of the trial court, leading to the present appeal before the Supreme Court.

 

The appellant before the Supreme Court cited Order VI of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), which deals with the amendment of pleadings. It was argued that the proviso to Order VI Rule 17 categorically states that no amendment may be allowed once the trial has begun, unless the Court is satisfied that amendment could not have been made prior to the same despite due diligence.

 

Provided that no application for amendment shall be allowed after the trial has commenced, unless the Court comes to the conclusion that in spite of due diligence, the party could not have raised the matter before the commencement of trial.Proviso to Order VI Rule 16

 

The Apex Court, in the instant case, noted that the records show that the evidence in the matter had begun. Thereafter, when the amendment application was filed, the trial judge did not give any finding to support the requirement in the proviso to Order VI Rule 17. This made the decision of the trial judge unsustainable, the Court opined.

 

Placing reliance on precedents laid down by the Supreme Court, the Court held,

 

"There being no finding by the Court that the Court is satisfied in spite of due diligence, the party could not introduce amendment before commencement of the trial, the order of the Trial Judge is unsustainable. The High Court has not adverted to the above aspect of the matter."

 

The Court thus set aside the decision of the High Court and the trial court and effectively dismissed the amendment application in the case.

Read the Judgment

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