Tag Archives: pleadings

Pure Question of Law – Can be Raised at Any Stage

The importance of pleading in a legal proceeding, particularly in a writ petition, cannot be overstated. It is true that if facts on which a party wants to rely are not properly articulated, it has the effect of taking the other side by surprise. But law also recognizes an exception to this rule in respect of an issue relating to a point of law. The reason for making a departure for such issues based on pure questions of law is not very far to seek. When a party to a proceeding makes a factual statement that has either to be controverted or admitted or otherwise dealt with by the opposite side. In either case facts involved in a case do not emerge on their own nor can they be taken cognizance of unless specially pleaded.

But a point of law emerges from the facts pleaded. A court can also take into cognizance legal issues arising out of the factual conspectus of the case without necessarily requiring the parties to plead the same separately. The consistent judicial pronouncements on the issue make it clear that even without a formal pleading, a point of law can be taken into cognizance and adjudicated upon by a court if no denial on fact is necessary. A party is not entitled to rely on a point of law, he can also take it even before the highest court for the first time. A pure question of law can be urged at any point of time before any forum provided it does not require any further adjudication of any disputed fact.

Hon’ble Apex Court in State of Madras v. K.M. Rajagopalan, AIR 1955 SC 817, had recognized this principle decades ago. Since then there has not been any deviation from this axiomatic principle. In Ariane Orgachem Private Ltd. v. Wyeth Employees Union, 2015 (145) FLR 985, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that a pure question of law for which no enquiry or proof is required can be raised at any stage. In fact, in that case the Hon’ble Supreme Court allowed a plea based on a point of law to be taken for the first time before the Supreme Court itself. Kolkata Municipal Corporation v. Union of India, 2018 (158) FLR 535.

 

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Amendment of Pleadings – Factors to be considered (Order VI Rule 17 – CPC)

In Revajeetu Builders & Developers v. Narayanaswamy & Sons, (2009) 10 SCC 84, the scope of amendment of pleadings was considered and it was held thus:

“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 the application filed under Order 6 Rule 17. These are only illustrative and not exhaustive.”

In a recent Judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court – Rameshkumar Agarwal v. Rjamala Exports Private Limited and Others, (2012) 5 SCC 337, it was held thus:

“It is clear that while deciding the application for amendment ordinarily the Court must not refuse bona fide, legitimate, honest and necessary amendments and should never permit mala fide and dishonest amendments. The purpose and object or Order 6 Rule 17 of the Code is to allow either party to alter or amend his pleadings in such manner and on such terms as may be just. Amendment cannot be claimed as a matter of right and under all circumstances, but the courts while deciding such prayers should not adopt a hypertechnical approach. Liberal approach should be the general rule, particularly in cases where the other side can be compensated with costs. Normally amendments are allowed in the pleadings to avoid multiplicity of litigations.

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