15 Jan 2010

Admission cannot be resiled by amendment; High Court

Pleadings in civil litigation form the thrust of the legal dispute. In fact various provision of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, which provides the fulcrum for determination of civil disputes, are enacted towards an end which effectuate decisions on the basis of the pleadings alone. In these circumstances, the 'plaint' (or the formal document marking the beginning of the suit) and 'written statement' (or the formal defence against the contents of the 'plaint') attain vital significance. However what can one do when certain admissions are made in the written submissions and later on when the same are found inconvenient, are sought to be withdrawn by amending the written submissions? 

Similar circumstances arose before the Gujarat High Court in a recently reported decision. To dwell upon the issue, the Court framed before itself the following question: "whether the amendment in the written statement, which amounts to withdrawal of an admission made by the respondent in the original written statement, could have been permitted?" In these circumstances, taking note of the earlier decisions, the High Court declared the law as under;

9. In Gautam Sarup v. Leela Jetly (2008) 7 SCC 85, after discussing a catena of judgments, the Supreme Court has enunciated the following principles of law: 
28. What, therefore, emerges from the discussions made hereinbefore is that a categorical admission cannot be resiled from but, in a given case, it may be explained or clarified. Offering explanation in regard to an admission or explaining away the same, however, would depend upon the nature and character thereof. It may be that a defendant is entitled to take an alternative plea. Such alternative pleas, however, cannot be mutually destructive of each other.
29. An explanation can be offered provided there is any scope therefor. A clarification may be made where the same is needed. 
30. We will assume that despite the amendments made by the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1976, amendment of pleadings being procedural in nature, the same should be liberally granted but as in all other cases while exercising discretion by a court of law,the same shall be done judiciously.
10. Applying the above principles of law to the facts and circumstances of the present case, it is evident that the respondent is not seeking a clarification, or trying to explain the admissions made by him but,in a complete volte-face, is resiling from the categorical admissions made by him. Explaining or offering a clarification regarding an admission stands on one footing whereas resiling from the same, would stand on a totally different footing. In view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court, such a course is not permissible. In the case in hand, the Trial Court had granted a temporary injunction to the petitioners, on the basis of the admitted stand taken by the respondent in the written statement. After about two years from institution of the Suit, the said amendment has been granted by the Trial Court, which is clearly not in consonance with the settled legal position. In the view of this court, in passing the impugned order, discretion has not been exercised judiciously, by the Trial Court.

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