13 October 2020

While deciding an application for rejection of plaint under Order VII Rule 11 CPC, the court is required to take the averments made therein to be correct

To set the tempo, we may start by referring to the legal position. It is well settled that a plaint can be rejected on any of the grounds enumerated under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC. It is equally well settled that on going through an application moved under Order VII Rule 11 CPC, the court is required to examine the plaint as a whole and take the averments made therein to be correct. If on a reading of the plaint, a cause of action is made out, then the plaint cannot be rejected. While dealing with an application under Order VII Rule 11 CPC, the court must forebear from going into disputed questions of facts including the defence taken by the defendant in his written statement or his application for rejection of the plaint. [Refer: Inspiration Clothes & U. v. Collby International Ltd., 88 (2000) DLT 769; Tilak Raj Bhagat v. Ranjit Kaur, 159 (2009) DLT 470; Bhau Ram v. Janak Singh, V (2012) SLT 536; Tilak Raj Bhagat v. Ranjit Kaur, 2012 (5) AD (Del) 186; Indian City Properties Ltd. v. Vimla Singh] 198 (2013) DLT 432; and Razia Begum v. DDA 215 (2014) DLT 290 (DB)].[Para No.14]

While deciding an application for rejection of plaint under Order VII Rule 11 CPC, the court is required take the averments made therein to be correct

    It may also be emphasized that for deciding an application filed under Order VII Rule 11 CPC, the court must not be selective in picking upon the averments made in the plaint and read them in isolation. Instead, a meaningful reading of the entire plaint must be conducted for the court to satisfy itself as to whether the averments made therein, if taken to be correct in their entirety, would result in a decree being passed. The manner of examination which a court is expected to undertake for scrutinizing the plaint and the documents filed to decide an application under Order VII Rule 11 CPC, have been discussed by the Supreme Court in a catena of decisions including in T. Arivandandam vs. T.V. Satyapal & Anr., reported as 1977 (4) SCC 467, Popat and Kotecha Property vs. State Bank of India Staff Association reported as (2005) 7 SCC 510 and Hardesh Ores Pvt. Ltd. vs. M/s. Hede & Company reported as 2007 (5) SCC 614. [Para No.15]

    In Popat and Kotecha Property (supra), the Supreme Court observed as under:
"10. Clause (d) of Order 7 Rule 11 speaks of suit, as appears from the statement in the plaint to be barred by any law. Disputed questions cannot be decided at the time of considering an application filed under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC. Clause (d) of Rule 11 of Order 7 applies in those cases only where the statement made by the plaintiff in the plaint, without any doubt or dispute shows that the suit is barred by any law in force.

19. There cannot be any compartmentalisation, dissection, segregation and inversions of the language of various paragraphs in the plaint. If such a course is adopted it would run counter to the cardinal canon of interpretation according to which a pleading has to be read as a whole to ascertain its true import. It is not permissible to cull out a sentence or a passage and to read it out of the context in isolation. Although it is the substance and not merely the form that has to be looked into, the pleading has to be construed as it stands without addition or subtraction of words or change of its apparent grammatical sense. The intention of the party concerned is to be gathered primarily from the tenor and terms of his pleadings taken as a whole. At the same time it should be borne in mind that no pedantic approach should be adopted to defeat justice on hair-splitting technicalities." (emphasis added)[Para No.16]

    In Mayar (H.K.) Ltd. & Ors. v. Owners and Parties, Vessel M.V. Fortune Express and Ors., reported as (2006) 3 SCC 100, the Supreme Court held thus:-
"12. From the aforesaid, it is apparent that the plaint cannot be rejected on the basis of the allegations made by the defendant in his written statement or in an application for rejection of the plaint. The court has to read the entire plaint as a whole to find out whether it discloses a cause of action and if it does, then the plaint cannot be rejected by the court exercising the powers under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code. Essentially, whether the plaint discloses a cause of action, is a question of fact which has to be gathered on the basis of the averments made in the plaint in its entirety taking those averments to be correct. A cause of action is a bundle of facts which are required to be proved for obtaining relief and for the said purpose, the material facts are required to be stated but not the evidence except in certain cases where the pleadings relied on are in regard to misrepresentation, fraud, wilful default, undue influence or of the same nature. So long as the plaint discloses some cause of action which requires determination by the court, the mere fact that in the opinion of the Judge the plaintiff may not succeed cannot be a ground for rejection of the plaint. In the present case, the averments made in the plaint, as has been noticed by us, do disclose the cause of action and, therefore, the High Court has rightly said that the powers under Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code cannot be exercised for rejection of the suit filed by the plaintiff- appellants."(emphasis supplied)[Para No.17]

............

    As can be seen from the aforesaid discussion, a plaint cannot be rejected on the basis of allegations leveled by the defendant in the written statement or for that matter, in an application moved under Order VII Rule 11 CPC. Only the material facts are required to be stated in the plaint without referring to the evidence except in circumstances where the pleadings relate to misrepresentation, fraud, undue influence, willful default, etc. The plaint must be read as a whole to determine as to whether it discloses a cause of action. In undertaking the said exercise, the court is not expected to consider a particular plea. Instead, the averments made in the plaint in entirety, have to be taken to be correct. As long as the court is satisfied that the plaint discloses some cause of action that requires determination, the plaint ought not to be rejected. Since a cause of action comprises of a bundle of facts, the same are required to be proved by the plaintiff only at the stage of the trial. At the end of the day, the court must be mindful of the underlying object of Order VII Rule 11 CPC which is to nip in the bud, irresponsible and vexatious suits. At the same time, the opinion of the court that the plaintiff may not ultimately succeed in the suit, ought not to form the basis for rejecting the plaint.[Para No.19]


Delhi High Court

Karan Goel
Vs.
Kanika Goel

Decided on 12/10/2020


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