Limitation for Filing Written Statement under CPC

 

The term ‘Written Statement’ has not been defined in the code. It is a term of specific connotation ordinarily signifying a reply to the plaint filed by the plaintiff. [1] In other words, a written statement is the pleading of the defendant wherein he deals with every material fact alleged by the plaintiff in his plaint and also states any new facts in his favour or takes legal objections against the claim of the plaintiff. In a civil suit, the litigant needs to record a written statement inside a predetermined time span. The constraint for recording a written statement has gone through a few changes since the CPC came into power. This article attempts to analyse the constraint of recording the written statement and legal proclamations on the equivalent.

1) Limitation to File Written Statement under CPC

A written statement is a document filed by a defendant to a suit against the plaint filed by the plaintiff. According to the basic procedure, after the plaintiff has filed the plaint, he/she is supposed to issue summons upon the defendant to allow him/her to file the plaint, he/she is supposed to issue summons upon the defendant to allow him/her to file the written statement.

According to Order VIII, Rule 1, a written statement must be filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of the summons by the defendant. It has to be noted that the time of limitation does not commence with the date of issue of summons but from the date of receipt of summons. Further, this period can be extended by the court at its discretion and for reasons which the court must provide in writing. However, the period cannot be extended beyond 90 days.

However, this provision and the limitation to the submission of written statements have long been the subject of debate and have also been the subject of several amendments. Prior to 1999, the courts found that the defendants did not submit their written statements for more than 120 days. or even sometimes for 6 months, and the courts continued to extend the term in the absence of a strict provision to reduce it. This has resulted in injustice for the plaintiff, delays in proceedings and the backlog of a large number of cases in court.

Hence, in 1999, an change turned into introduced to the Civil Procedure Code and Rule 1 turned into amended. After the change of 1999, the statute required the defendants to record written statements inside a length of 30 days from the receipt of summons. Though the supply turned into the want of the hour, it turned into now no longer very a success due to the extraordinarily stern requirement. There have been authentic motives for defendants to now no longer be capable of record a written assertion inside 30 days, so the courts have been helpless.

A material change to the Code was made in 2000 and that provision was made in its current form. The 2000 amendment left the 30-day time limit unchanged, but it was at the discretion of the courts to extend the time limit for a maximum of 90 days. and also write down the reasons for it. This left enough time for the defendants who really needed more time.

2) Limitation for Commercial Disputes

Rule 1 provides the time period of 30 days to file a written statement which can be extended to 90 days by the courts in any civil dispute. However, this provision does not apply in commercial disputes and several changes have been made in this regard. According to the proviso annexed to Rule 1, in case of a commercial dispute, the period of 30 days can be extended by the courts for a maximum of 120 days instead of 90 days as required in other civil disputes.

Further, if the defendant, in a commercial dispute, does not file the written statement within the prescribed 30 days, the court can also levy cost upon the defendant at its discretion. Moreover, if the defendant fails to file the written statement within 120 days, the court may prohibit the defendant from filing it any later stages. It means that the right to file a written statement will be forfeited and the defendant will have no documents on record.

3) Delay in Filing Written Statement

The question that arises is whether the defendant can file an application of condonation of delay in case he/she has not filed the written statement within the extended period as well. With respect to this question, in Ramesh Chandra v. Punjab National Bank[1], there was a delay in filing of the written statement.

The court observed that the defendant deliberately attempted to delay the disposal of suit and the reasons assigned for the delay is not at all satisfactory. Therefore, the court held that such actions should be prevented and hence, the court levied a cost of Rs. 2,00,000 upon the defendant subject to the payment of which, he could file a written statement and the delay will be condoned.

In Shaikh Salim Haji Abdul Khavimsab v. Kumar[2], the apex court held that the Court has the necessary authority and carte blanche power to condone the delay and allow the filing of the written statement even beyond the prescribed time of 90 days.

The provision though negatively worded is procedural and procedural laws require liberal interpretation. It does not deal with the power of Court or provide consequences of non-extension. It can, therefore, be read as a directory. However, the court noted that such extension beyond 90 days should be made a regular practice and can be given in only exceptional circumstances if the defendant shows reasonable cause for the delay. It has been held by the Supreme Court that a written statement should be artistically drafted keeping in view the real distinction between the pleas taken[3]

In its recent decision in SandeepThapar against SME Technologies[4], the Supreme Court ruled that the term set out in order VIII R.1 must be respected, but in exceptional circumstances. Extended by the courts for satisfactory reasons stated in writing if the delay is caused by reasons beyond the control ofIf the defendant is checked, the court must allow the party to make a written statement that goes beyond the period prescribed in order VIII, R.1 of the Code.

4) Limitation of Filing Written Statement under the Limitation Act

The Limitation Act, 1963 (‘the Act of 1963’) contains the periods of limitation that applies in different kinds of proceedings, the method of computing the prescribed period and the consequences adjoining breach of such period. Section 2(j) of 1963 defines the period of limitation as the period prescribed in the annexed Schedule.

The limitation applies in respect of all applications, which include petitions as well 1 filed by all applicants which include –

a) a petitioner,

b) any person from or through whom an applicant derives his right to apply,

c)any person whose estate is represented by the applicant as executor, administrator or other representative

Section three of the Act of 1963 imposes a blanket ban on accepting any suit, enchantment or utility after the prescribed time, computed with appreciate to Sections four to 24 of the Act, is over. However, no criminal outcomes aside from dismissal are indexed herein. This ban isn’t always absolute and is stored via way of means of Section five which permits any courtroom docket to condone such put off in submitting an enchantment or an utility if ‘enough reason’ can be proven via way of means of the applicant. Various judgments have held that this discretion isn’t always to exercise in a passing way and a satisfactorily defined reason of put off is a sine qua non for the same.

Several exclusions, extensions and methods of computations exist with respect to the period of limitation of filing a written statement in a suit. A brief list of the same may be such –

  • The duration of an applicant’s incapacity for work before the start of the limitation period no longer counts and the period begins after the disability (s) have This disability includes being a minor. The death of the applicant confers the right to present the declaration to the legal representatives. within the time the person would have had if they had not died[5].
  • The sensible time for getting a duplicate of the declaration, request, judgment or grant of any court which is relevant to the ensuing recording of a statement is prohibited from calculation[6]
  • The time that has elapsed in proceedings conducted in good faith before a court which, due to inability or procedural irregularities, cannot participate in the proceedings on this request is excluded[7].

[1] AIR 1990 SC 1147

[2] AIR 2006 SC 396

[3] C Abdul Shukoor Saheb v Arji Papa Rao, AIR 1963 SC 1150

[4] AIR 1963 SC 1150

[5] Section 2(b), Limitation Act, 1963

[6] Section 8, Limitation Act, 1963

[7] Section 12, Limitation Act, 1963

 

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