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CASE LAW ON AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS

AMENDMENT CAN BE ALLOWED EVEN AT EXECUTION STAGE
Three-Judge Bench decision of Supreme Court in Sajjan Kumar vs. Ram Kishan [2005 (13) SCC 89]. In this decision the proposed amendment related to correction of the description of the suit premises in the plaint. The amendment was sought on the plea that the description of the property given in the rent note itself was incorrect and the same description was repeated in the plaint and there would be complications at the stage of execution to avoid which the description of the suit premises as given in the plaint needed to be corrected. Prayer for amendment was opposed by the defendant-respondent on the principal ground that although the defendant had taken the plea in the written statement itself that the suit premises were not correctly described, yet the plaintiff- appellant proceeded with the trial of the suit and did not take care to seek the amendment at an early stage. The trial court rejected the prayer for amendment and the High Court dismissed the civil revision against the order of the trial court. Allowing the prayer for amendment Supreme Court in paragraph 5 of the decision observed as follows : “Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, we are satisfied that the appeal deserves to be allowed as the trial court, while rejecting the prayer for amendment has failed to exercise the jurisdiction vested in it by law and by the failure to so exercise it, has occasioned a possible failure of justice. Such an error committed by the trial court was liable to be corrected by the High Court in exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction, even if Section 115 CPC would not have been strictly applicable. It is true that the plaintiff-appellant ought to have been diligent in promptly seeking the amendment in the plaint at an early stage of the suit, more so when the error on the part of the plaintiff was pointed out by the defendant in the written statement itself. Still, we are of the opinion that the proposed amendment was necessary for the purpose of bringing to the fore the real question in controversy between the parties and the refusal to permit the amendment would create needless complications at the stage of the execution in the event of the plaintiff-appellant succeeding in the suit.”

MERIT OF THE AMENDMENT IS HARDLY A RELEVANT CONSIDERATION
Usha Devi v. Rijwan Ahmad and Others AIR 2008 SC 1147 it was held as follows: "As to the submissions made on behalf of the respondents that the amendment will render the suit non- maintainable because it would not only materially change the suit property but also change the cause of action it has only to be pointed out that in order to allow the prayer for amendment the merit of the amendment is hardly a relevant consideration and it will be open to the defendants-respondents to raise their objection in regard to the amended plaint by making any corresponding amendments in their written statement."

FACTORS TO BE DEALT WITH WHILE DEALING AMENDMENT APPLICATION
The Supreme Court, in Revajeetu Builders and Developers v. Narayanaswamy And Sons And Others, (2009) 10 SCC 84, observed in para 63 as under: "Factors to be taken into consideration while dealing with applications for amendments-
63. On critically analyzing both the English and Indian cases, some basic principles emerge which ought to be taken into consideration while allowing or rejecting the application for amendment-
(1) Whether the amendment sought is imperative for proper and effective adjudication of the case?
(2) Whether the application for amendment is bona fide or mala fide?
(3) The amendment should not cause such prejudice to the other side which cannot be compensated adequately in terms of money;
(4) Refusing amendment would in fact lead to injustice or lead to multiple litigation;
(5) Whether the proposed amendment constitutionally or fundamentally changes the nature and character of the case? and,
(6) As a general rule, the court should decline amendments if a fresh suit on the amended claims would be barred by limitation on the date of application. (These are some of the important factors which may be kept in mind while dealing with application filed under Order VI Rule 17. These are only illustrative and not exhaustive.)"

ORDINARILY, THE RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE PARTIES ARE TO BE WORKED OUT WITH REFERENCE TO THE DATE OF INSTITUTION OF THE SUIT
Mohanakumaran Nair vs. Vijayakumaran Nair, reported in AIR 2008 SC 213 “Ordinarily, the rights and obligations of the parties are to be worked out with reference to the date of institution of the suit. See Jindal Vijayanagar Steel (JSW Steel Ltd.) Vs Jindal Praxair Oxygen Company Ltd. [2006(8)SCALE668] Determination in regard to maintainability of the suit, it is trite, must be made with reference to the date of the institution of the suit. If a cause of action arises at a later date, a fresh suit may lie but that would not mean that the suit which was not maintainable on the date of its institution, unless an exceptional case is made out therefor can be held to have been validly instituted. Discretion, as is well known, cannot be exercised, arbitrarily or capriciously. It must be exercised in accordance with law. When there exists a statute, the question of exercise of jurisdiction which would be contrary to the provisions of the statute would not arise.”


AMENDMENT APPLICATION AFTER COMMENCEMENT OF TRIAL -TEST OF DUE DELIGENCE
Chander Kanta Bansal vs. Rajinder Singh Anand, reported in 2008 (5) SCC 117 “It makes it clear that after the commencement of trial, no application for amendment shall be allowed. However, if it is established that in spite of "due diligence" the party could not have raised the matter before the commencement of trial depending on the circumstances, the court is free to order such application. The words "due diligence" has not been defined in the Code. According to Oxford Dictionary (Edition 2006), the word "diligence" means careful and persistent application or effort. "Diligent" means careful and steady in application to one's work and duties, showing care and effort. As per Black's Law Dictionary (Eighth Edition), "diligence" means a continual effort to accomplish something, care; caution; the attention and care required from a person in a given situation. "Due diligence" means the diligence reasonably expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a person who seeks to satisfy a legal requirement or to discharge an obligation. According to Words and Phrases by Drain-Dyspnea (Permanent Edition 13A) "due diligence", in law, means doing everything reasonable, not everything possible. "Due diligence" means reasonable diligence; it means such diligence as a prudent man would exercise in the conduct of his own affairs. It is clear that unless the party takes prompt steps, mere action cannot be accepted and file a petition after the commencement of trial.”

REAL TEST FOR ALLOWING AMENDMENT APPLICATION IS WHETHER REAL CONTROVERSY BETWEEN THE PARTIES MAY BE RESOLVED
Surender Kumar Sharma v. Makhan Singh, (2009) 10 SCC 626, at para 5: “5. As noted hereinearlier, the prayer for amendment was refused by the High Court on two grounds. So far as the first ground is concerned i.e. the prayer for amendment was a belated one, we are of the view that even if it was belated, then also, the question that needs to be decided is to see whether by allowing the amendment, the real controversy between the parties may be resolved. It is well settled that under Order 6 Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, wide powers and unfettered discretion have been conferred on the court to allow amendment of the pleadings to a party in such a manner and on such terms as it appears to the court just and proper. Even if, such an application for amendment of the plaint was filed belatedly, such belated amendment cannot be refused if it is found that for deciding the real controversy between the parties, it can be allowed on payment of costs. Therefore, in our view, mere delay and laches in making the application for amendment cannot be a ground to refuse the amendment.”
AMENDMENT CAN BE ALLOWED AT ANY STAGE - PROVIDED
North Eastern Railway Administration, Gorakhpur v. Bhagwan Das (dead) by LRS, (2008) 8 SCC 511, at para16: “16. Insofar as the principles which govern the question of granting or disallowing amendments under Order 6 Rule 17 CPC (as it stood at the relevant time) are concerned, these are also well settled. Order 6 Rule 17 CPC postulates amendment of pleadings at any stage of the proceedings.”
In Pirgonda Hongonda Patil v. Kalgonda Shidgonda Patil AIR 1957 SC 363, which still holds the field, it was held that all amendments ought to be allowed which satisfy the two conditions: (a) of not working injustice to the other side, and (b) of being necessary for the purpose of determining the real questions in controversy between the parties. Amendments should be refused only where the other party cannot be placed in the same position as if the pleading had been originally correct, but the amendment would cause him an injury which could not be compensated in costs.”

Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal and Others v. K.K. Modi and Others, (2006) 4 SCC 385, at paras 15 & 16: “15. The object of the rule is that the courts should try the merits of the case that come before them and should, consequently, allow all amendments that may be necessary for determining the real question in controversy between the parties provided it does not cause injustice or prejudice to the other side.
16. Order 6 Rule 17 consists of two parts. Whereas the first part is discretionary (may) and leaves it to the court to order amendment of pleading. The second part is imperative (shall) and enjoins the court to allow all amendments which are necessary for the purpose of determining the real question in controversy between the parties.”

The Honourable Supreme Court in the case of Vidyabai and others vs. Padmalatha and another in 2009(2) SCC 409 held as follows:- “it is the primal duty of the Court to decide as to whether such an amendment is necessary to decide the real dispute between the parties. Only if such a condition is fulfilled, the amendment is to be allowed. However, Proviso appended to Order 6 Rule 17 of the Code restricts the power of the Court. It puts an embargo on exercise of its jurisdiction. The Court's jurisdiction, in a case of this nature is limited. Thus, unless the jurisdictional fact, as envisaged therein, is found to be existing, the Court will have no jurisdiction at all to allow the amendment of the Plaint.”

In the judgment reported in 2008(14) SCC 364, in the matter of Rajkumar (Dead) through Lrs. vs. S.K.Shrwagi and company Private Ltd and other, the Honourable Supreme Court held that “in case of amendments, after the commencement of trial, particularly after the completion of evidence, the question of prejudice to the opposite party may arise and in such an event, it is incumbent on the part of the Court to satisfy the conditions prescribed in the proviso to Order 6 Rule 17 CPC and if the parties are able to satisfy the Court that in spite of the due diligence they could not raise the issue before the commencement of trial and the court is satisfied with their explanation, amendment can be allowed even after the commencement of trial.”

Estralla Rubber vs. Dass Estate (P) Ltd. [(2001) 8 SCC 97], Court held that even there was some admissions in the evidence as well as in the written statement, it was still open to the parties to explain the same by way of filing an application for amendment of the written statement. That apart, mere delay of three years in filing the application for amendment of the written statement could not be a ground for rejection of the same when no serious prejudice is shown to have been caused to the plaintiff/respondent No.1 so as to take away any accrued right.

Ragu Thilak D.John vs. S.Rayappan and Others [(2001) 2 SCC 472]. In para 6, Court observed: "If the aforesaid test is applied in the instant case, the amendment sought could not be declined. The dominant purpose of allowing the amendment is to minimize the litigation. The plea that the relief sought by way of amendment was barred by time is arguable in the circumstances of the case, as is evident from the perusal of averments made in paras 8(a) to 8(f) of the plaint which were sought to be incorporated by way of amendment. We feel that in the circumstances of the case the plea of limitation being disputed could be made a subject-matter of the issue after allowing the amendment prayed for."

Baldev Singh & Ors vs. Manohar Singh and Anr., as reported in AIR 2006 SC 2832 “we are therefore of the view that inconsistent pleas can be raised by defendants in the written statement although the same may not be permissible in the case of plaint. In the case of M/s. Modi Spinning and Weaving Mills Co.Ltd. & Anr. Vs. M/s. Ladha Ram & Co. [(1976) 4 SCC 320], this principle has been enunciated by this Court in which it has been clearly laid down that inconsistent or alternative pleas can be made in the written statement.”

LAW OF LIMITATION AND AMENDMENT

L.J. Leach and Co. Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Messrs. Jardine Skinner and Co. - A.I.R. 1957 S.C. 357 has held :- "It is no doubt true that Courts would, as a rule, decline to allow amendments, if a fresh suit on the amended claim would be barred by limitation on the date of the application. But that is a factor to be taken into account in exercise of the discretion as to whether amendment should be ordered, and does not affect the power of the Court to order it, if that is required in the interests of justice." This view of Court has, since, been followed by a 3 Judge Bench of this Court in the case of T.N. Alloy Foundry Co. Ltd. Vs. T.N. Electricity Board & Ors. 2004 (3) SCC 392.

Pankaja and Anr. vs. Yellappa (D) by Lrs & Ors., as reported in AIR 2004 SC 4102 “While the learned counsel for the defendant-respondents pleaded that under Entry 58 of the Schedule to the Limitation Act, the declaration sought for by the appellants in this case ought to have been done within 3 years when the right to sue first accrued, the appellant-plaintiff contends that the same does not fall under the said Entry but falls under Entry 64 or 65 of the said Schedule of the Limitation Act which provides for a limitation of 12 years……. In such a situation where there is a dispute as to the bar of limitation this Court in the case of Ragu Thilak D. John Vs. S. Rayappan & Ors. 2001(2) SCC 472 (supra) has held :- "The amendment sought could not be declined. The dominant purpose of allowing the amendment is to minimise the litigation. The plea that the relief sought by way of amendment was barred by time is arguable in the circumstances of the case. The plea of limitation being disputed could be made a subject-matter of the issue after allowing the amendment prayed for." …………. that there is an arguable question whether the limitation applicable for seeking the relief of declaration on facts of this case falls under Entry 58 of the Limitation Act or under Entries 64 or 65 of the Limitation Act which question has to be decided in the trial”


WHETHER AMENDMENT ONCE INCORPORATED RELATES BACK TO DATE OF SUIT – NO – COURT CAN FIX ITS DATE OF COMMENCEMENT:-
Sampath Kumar vs Ayyakannu And Anr. AIR 2002 SC 3369, 9. Order 6 Rule 17 of the CPC confers jurisdiction on the Court to allow either party to alter or amend his pleadings at any stage of the proceedings and on such terms as may be just. Such amendments as are directed towards putting-forth and seeking determination of the real questions in controversy between the parties shall be permitted to be made. The question of delay in moving an application for amendment should be decided not by calculating the period from the date of institution of the suit alone but by reference to the stage to which the hearing in the suit has proceeded. Pre-trial amendments are allowed more liberally than those which are sought to be made after the commencement of the trial or after conclusion thereof. In former case generally it can be assumed that the defendant is not prejudiced because he will have full opportunity of meeting the case of the plaintiff as amendment. In the latter cases the question of prejudice to the opposite party may arise and that shall have to be answered by reference to the facts and circumstances of each individual case. No strait-jacket formula can be laid down. The fact remains that a mere delay cannot be a ground for refusing a prayer for amendment.
10. An amendment once incorporated relates back to the date of the suit. However, the doctrine of relation back in the context of amendment of pleadings is not one of universal application and in appropriate cases the Court is competent while permitting an amendment to direct that the amendment permitted by it shall not relate back to the date of the suit and to the extent permitted by it shall be deemed to have been brought before the Court on the date on which the application seeking the amendment was filed.

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