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Written Statement of Defense

In civil lawsuits, a crucial document called the written statement holds significant legal value. It represents the formal response of the defendant to the plaintiff's claims and allegations. This statement of defense is subject to regulation by the provisions outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 which governs civil litigation practices in India.

According to the legal framework, specifically Order VIII, Rule1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, a defendant has an obligation to prepare and present their written statement of defense within a specific timeframe. This timeframe begins when they receive the summons notifying them about the lawsuit. The defendant must submit their written statement within 30 days from the date of service of the summons upon them.

Facilitating the lawsuit's efficient resolution, the defendant's prompt addressing of allegations and claims during this 30-day period are crucial. Defining their own counterarguments, outlining previously unmentioned defenses, and refuting the plaintiff's accusations, the defendant must carefully craft their written statement in order to do so.

In some cases, the defendant may face certain obstacles or interruptions while drafting their written statement during the initial thirty days. For such instances, the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 has a resolution. By securing the court's authorization, the defendant can still present their written statement outside of the initial thirty-day period. Of course, such an extension would be at the judge's discretion and only granted upon credible reasons or explanations for the hold up.

If the defendant requests an extension of time for filing written submissions, he must formally obtain permission from the court. The court will carefully consider the defendant's request, consider the reasons for the delay, and decide whether to grant an extension. If the court approves the application, it will also set a new filing deadline. It is important to realize that the court has complete discretion in the matter and will not automatically grant a request for an extension.

This discretion is exercised to prevent unnecessary delays in litigation caused by extended filing deadlines. The introduction of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, provided for a time limit within which a defendant must submit a written statement to ensure the effective conduct of legal proceedings. While the court maintains its discretion, it is unable to extend the filing deadline beyond a period of 90 days from the date of receiving the summons. This particular limitation is enforced to uphold the principles of efficiency and timeliness in court proceedings.

Rules of Drafting Written Statement

The defendant's formal response to a civil lawsuit, a written statement is a crucial aspect of the legal process. To create an effective defense, careful consideration is necessary, following various rules and requirements.

Here are the dos and don'ts to be followed before and during the drafting process:
  • Thoroughly Review the Plaintiff's Complaint: The written statement process starts with a deep dive into whatever plaint (plaintiff's complaint) you've been handed. Before anything, get comfortable with every claim and allegation being leveled at you.
  • Jurisdictional Assessment: The defendant should assess whether the plaintiff has filed the application in the correct court, i.e., whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter. If it is determined that the court does not have financial or territorial jurisdiction, the defendant may file a motion requiring the plaintiff to apply to the appropriate court.
  • Multiple Causes of Action Separate Actions: If a lawsuit involves more than one cause of action, and the defendant believes that his case cannot be properly heard along with the other causes of action, he may file a motion to have his specific claims litigated separately.
  • Examine Suit Valuation and Stamping: Verify that the plaintiff has correctly graded the lawsuit and ensure that it is properly sealed. If anomalies are discovered, such as an incorrect valuation or insufficient stamping, the defendant can ask the court to modify or dismiss the complaint.
  • Objection to frivolous or offensive claims: If the defendant believes that all or part of the plaintiff's claims are frivolous, offensive, unnecessary or false, he must clearly state this in a written statement and vehemently deny any such claims by the plaintiff.
  • Ensure the Proper Parties Are Joined: Verify that all required parties in the lawsuit are properly joined and, if not, raise this issue in a written statement.
  • Evaluate the statute of limitations: Determine whether the plaintiff�s claim is barred by the statute of limitations. If this is the case, the defendant can file a motion with the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
  • State Material Facts: The defendant must state all material facts that he or she intends to rely on at trial. Be transparent and thorough when presenting your case.
  • Specific Response to Averments: The defendant must provide specific and detailed responses to the facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. You can admit, deny, or state that you lack sufficient information to respond (but be cautious about using this last option).
  • Caution in Admitting and Denying: It is important to exercise caution when admitting or denying an allegation. Failure to expressly deny or admit an allegation may result in the allegation being deemed a tacit admission.
  • Separate Statements for Multiple Defendants: If there are multiple defendants, each defendant must file a separate statement of defense. This allows each defendant to respond to the charges individually.
  • Be clear and concise: Use clear and concise language in your written statement. Avoid unnecessary legal jargon that may confuse readers.
  • Honesty: Always provide truthful information in your written statements. False information can have serious legal consequences.
  • Consistency: Make sure your written statement is consistent with previous statements or documents submitted to the court.
  • Promptly File a Written Statement: File a written statement within the time period required by the court rules or as directed by the court.
  • Signature and Verification: Any written statement must be signed by you or your legal representative and verified for accuracy to the best of your knowledge and belief.
  • Get legal advice: If you are new to the legal process or your case is complex, you seek the help of a lawyer in preparing your written statement.

Court Judgment:

A bench comprising J. Hemant Gupta and J.V. Ramasubramanian said the injunction suit filed by the plaintiff was admittedly not governed by the Commercial Law Courts Act, 2015. Therefore, in view of the judgment of this Court in (2005) 4 SCC 480 titled "Kailash v. Nankhu & Ors.", the period for filing written representations under Order VIII Rule 1 of CPC is not mandatory.

The SC further said that in view of the above judgment, we come to the conclusion that the delay in filing a written statement is fully recoverable by costs but it is unreasonable to deny the benefit of filing a written statement.

The SC allowed the appeal and set aside the high court order. Taking into account the advanced age of the plaintiff, the bench ordered the court of first instance to expedite the judgment of the suit.

To sum up, the statement of defense is an important document in a civil lawsuit for the defendant to respond to the plaintiff�s claims. The defendant is generally required to file this written statement within 30 days of receiving the summons. However, if difficulties or delays arise, it is possible to ask the court for permission to start proceedings later. The maximum period is 90 days after service of the summons.

This legal framework promotes fairness and efficiency in civil proceedings and ensures that both parties have the opportunity to present their cases in a timely manner. Drafting a written complaint is a careful process that requires a thorough understanding of the plaintiff's claims, compliance with jurisdictional rules, careful consideration of the content and compliance of the complaint, and a clear and specific response to the allegations. By following these rules and guidelines, defendants can present a well-structured and effective defense in their civil cases.

  2. Advance Legal Drafting, Abhinav Gaur, Prakash Pandey, Shabdita Singh

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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