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Rule of Plaint in Civil Procedure Code

In the context of India's Civil Procedure Code (CPC), a "plaint" is a formal written document wherein a plaintiff outlines their claims and accusations against a defendant in a civil lawsuit. The commencement of legal proceedings and the establishment of the plaintiff's case are set in motion by this primary filing. Usually, a plaint comprises details regarding the involved parties, the legal underpinning for the claim, the desired redress, and other relevant particulars.

A plaint is basically a written statement of a cause of action, which lays down the foundation of the case for further proceedings. In other words, a plaint is a statement drafted in writing stating the grounds of allegations adverted to in a complaint, for adjudication by the court.

Party who complains and brings an action against the other is called 'plaintiff' and the one who defends or against whom the allegations have been levelled is called defendant.

Order VII of CPC

Order VII of the Civil Procedure Code is primarily concerned with the plaint, which plays a pivotal role in the initiation of legal proceedings. Within Order VII of the CPC, various rules govern different aspects of the plaint. Rules 1 to 8 pertain to the specifics that must be included in the plaint. Rule 9 of the CPC addresses the procedure for admitting the plaint, followed by Rules 10 to 10-B, which outline the process of returning the plaint and the participation of involved parties. The central rules, namely Rules 11 to 13, are dedicated to the grounds for rejecting a plaint and the circumstances under which such rejection may occur.

Section 26 of the Code of Civil Procedure underscores the fundamental importance of the plaint in the legal landscape. It states, "Every suit shall be instituted by the presentation of a plaint or in such other manner as may be prescribed." This section unequivocally emphasizes that the plaint is an indispensable component in the commencement of a lawsuit before a civil or commercial court.

Particulars of a Plaint
Order VII, Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, prescribes the essential particulars that must be included in every plaint.

These mandatory elements encompass:
  1. Identification of the court with jurisdiction to hear the cause of action.
  2. Comprehensive particulars, including the plaintiff's name, description, and residential address for correspondence.
  3. Thorough particulars, encompassing the defendant's name, description, and residential address for correspondence.
  4. Disclosure of the age and mental soundness of the plaintiff and defendant.
  5. A presentation of the facts underlying the case, giving rise to the cause of action.
  6. A declaration of the plaintiff's claim.
  7. An exposition of the case's background that prompted the plaintiff to approach the court.
  8. A statement establishing the court's jurisdiction that has been invoked.
  9. An indication of the value of the subject matter of the suit and any applicable set-offs.
  10. A declaration of the relief sought from the court.
  11. An indication of any interim relief sought, to be articulated before the final request.
  12. The signature of the plaintiff or, in their absence, an authorized representative.
  13. The verification of the plaint by the plaintiff or, in their absence, an authorized representative.
  14. The verification should be followed by the signature of the person performing the verification, along with the date and location at which the verification is conducted. This verification is undertaken before the court or an oath commissioner.

Upon the preparation of a plaint, each plaint or lawsuit must be accompanied by:
  1. A list of documents referred to in the plaint when not in the possession of the plaintiff.
  2. A list of references made in the plaint when not in possession of the plaintiff.
  3. A prescribed form of address.
  4. The appropriate form of process fee.
  5. A power of attorney, if applicable.

Details of money or immovable property forming subject matter of the suit
Rules 2 and 3 of Order VII within the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, establish specific provisions pertaining to lawsuits involving monetary claims or immovable property as the subject matter. These guidelines are crucial considerations during the drafting process:

As per Rule 2, when the focal point of the lawsuit concerns the recovery of money, the plaint must unequivocally specify the exact amount being sought. However, in instances where the claim involves mesne profit or an amount that the plaintiff cannot ascertain through due diligence, the plaintiff is obligated to provide an estimated or approximate value for the suit.

In accordance with Rule 3, when the lawsuit revolves around immovable property, the plaintiff must include a comprehensive description of the property. This description should be sufficiently detailed to allow for its precise identification, typically utilizing numbers or boundaries as per available records.

Grounds on which a plaint can be dismissed
Order VII, Rule 11 of the CPC enumerates various grounds upon which a plaint can be dismissed, and these encompass:
  • Insufficient Court Fees: If the plaintiff fails to pay the requisite court fees or underpays them, the court has the authority to reject the plaint.
  • Inadequate Relief: If the relief sought in the plaint is inadequate, the plain may be dismissed.
  • Lack of Jurisdiction: If the court where the plaint is filed does not have the appropriate jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter, the court can dismiss the plaint. In such cases, the plaintiff should file the suit in a court with the correct jurisdiction.
  • Non-Compliance with Legal Requirements: If the plaint does not adhere to the formal and substantive legal prerequisites, such as failing to articulate a clear cause of action or omitting essential particulars, it may be subject to rejection.
  • Unauthorized Presentation: If someone not authorized by law presents the plaint, it may be dismissed by the court.
  • Res Judicata: If the subject matter of the plaint has already been settled by a competent court and is thus barred by the principle of res judicata, the court may reject it.
  • Suit Barred by Law: If the lawsuit is prohibited by any legal provision or is time-barred (i.e., not filed within the prescribed limitation period), the court may choose to reject the plaint.
  • Inadequate Stamps: If the plaint lacks the necessary stamps or has insufficient stamping, it may be dismissed by the court.
  • Duplicate not submitted: If the plaint is not submitted in duplicate, it may be dismissed.
  • Violation of Rule 9: Violating Rule (9) of Order VII, CPC, if the processing fee and copies of the plaint are not filed within seven days of the day the summons were issued to the defendant, [Rule 11 (f)].
It is imperative for the plaintiff to meticulously draft and submit the plaint in accordance with the CPC's stipulations to avoid the possibility of rejection. If the plaint is not accepted, the plaintiff might be able to address the issues and submit it again, awaiting a detailed review of the unique circumstances and the court's assessment of the initial rejection grounds.

Court Judgments:
  • The Supreme Court observed that a plaint cannot be rejected under Order VII Rule 11 CPC merely on the ground that 'the plaintiff is not entitled to any relief in the suit.
  • The Supreme Court observed that a plaint should be rejected under Order VII Rule XI(a) and (d) of CPC if it is vexatious, illusory cause of action and barred by limitation.
  • The Kerala High Court recently held that a trial judge cannot wait until conclusion of trial to decide if the plaint has to be rejected, and added that such decision should be made solely on an assessment of the plaint under Order VII Rule 11 CPC.
  • The Supreme Court has recently reiterated that the principle of res judicata cannot be invoked as a ground for the rejection of a plaint under Order V Rule 11 (d) of CPC.
  • The Andhra Pradesh High Court has reiterated that the entire plaint has to be considered to find out if it discloses a cause of action that requires determination of court and if it does, then the plaint cannot be rejected under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC.
  • The Supreme Court observed that appropriateness of prayer sought is not an issue that should be considered while deciding an application seeking rejection of plaint under Order VII Rule 11 of the CPC.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court on Monday ruled that the provision of Revision under Section 115 CPC cannot be used to challenge an order of rejection of plaint under Order 7 Rule 11 of the CPC.
  • The Supreme Court observed that a plaint cannot be rejected under Order VII Rule 11 CPC merely because there are some inconsistent averments in the plaint.
  • For dealing with an application under Rule 11 of Order VII of CPC, only the averments made in the plaint and the documents produced along with the plaint are required to be seen.

The concept of a "plaint" in law emerged to provide a clear understanding of disputes and facts, enabling informed and effective decisions. It is necessary in both commercial and civil cases handled by their respective courts. However, the use of plaints has made the legal process more complex and challenging for ordinary people seeking legal remedies. It's also time-consuming, leading to dissatisfaction.

The multitude of rules and orders in the Code of Civil Procedure governing plaints creates confusion in the civil system. In my opinion, plaints are beneficial for clarifying facts and disputes. Nonetheless, simplifying the regulations within the Code of Civil Procedure would make it easier for the general public to file lawsuits. Instead of abolishing plaints, we should reduce the complexity of regulations across various legal provisions.


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