The bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna of Supreme Court had ruled that the courts should take a lenient view when an application is made by the defendant for the production of the additional document which he was not able to produce along with the written statement.
Facts of the Case
- Madras High Court dismissed the revision petition filed by the defendants in a suit challenging the refusal to entertain an application under Order 8 Rule 1A (3) of the Code of Civil Procedure seeking leave of the court to produce additional documents.
- The defendants stated that they had recently traced these documents related to the suit property and that was why they could not produce them along with the written statement.
The Apex Court while considering the appeal against a Madras High Court judgment referred to Rule 1A of Order 8 of C.P.C, and ruled that that
He must list out the documents which are in his possession or power as well as those which are not. In case the defendant does not file any document or copy thereof along with his written statement, such a document shall not be allowed to be received in evidence on behalf of the defendant at the hearing of the suit. However, this will not apply to a document produced for cross-examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses or handed over to a witness merely to refresh his memory. Subrule (3) states that a document which is not produced at the time of filing of the written statement shall not be received in evidence except with the leave of the court. Rule (1) of Order 13 of C.P.C. again makes it mandatory for the parties to produce their original documents before the settlement of issues.
The court noted that the sub-rule (3) provides a second opportunity to the defendant to produce the documents which ought to have been produced in the court along with the written statement, with the leave of the court.
The discretion conferred upon the court to grant such leave is to be exercised judiciously. While there is no straight jacket 5 formula, this leave can be granted by the court on a good cause being shown by the defendant. It is often said that procedure is the handmaid of justice. Procedural and technical hurdles shall not be allowed to come in the way of the court while doing substantial justice. If the procedural violation does not seriously cause prejudice to the adversary party, courts must lean towards doing substantial justice rather than relying upon procedural and technical violation. We should not forget the fact that litigation is nothing but a journey towards a truth which is the foundation of justice and the court is required to take appropriate steps to thrash out the underlying truth in every dispute. Therefore, the court should take a lenient view when an application is made for the production of the documents under subrule (3).
The Court in the present case held that the defendants have filed an application assigning cogent reasons for not producing the documents along with the written statement, and therefore the court ought to have granted leave.
Case Name: SUGANDHI (DEAD) vs. P. RAJKUMAR
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3427 OF 2020
Coram: Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna