Pleadings are an integral part of the first stage of the suit and form the
backbone on which the future of the suit rests. The counsel on behalf of the
plaintiff files a statement in writing detailing his contentions regarding the
case. It is on basis of this statement that the defendant files a written
statement with his defence as well as explaining why the contentions raised by
the plaintiff will not hold up/prevail in Court.
There are instances where after
filing the plaint the plaintiff may with leave of the court file a statement or
the Court may direct him to file a statement in writing. These statements are
also considered a part of the pleadings by the plaintiff.
The same may be
done/required of the defendant and would form a part of the defendants’
pleadings. Pleadings are defined as a written statement or a plaint under Order
VI Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (herein after the Code).
Pleadings function as a tool to narrow down on the relevant issues and help in
fast tracking the proceedings. It enables both parties to raise the required
arguments and evidence by providing details from both sides on the point in
As a general rule counsels of both parties are expected to concentrate
on the material facts in their respective cases as opposed to raising
contentions regarding the applicable laws, crisp and concise presentation is
expecting while presenting these pleadings. The rule of pleadings may be summarised into a simple statement – Plead facts not law.
There may be circumstances where a party may not be able to contain all material
facts in their pleadings either due to these facts arising/coming to the
attention of the party at a stage after filing the pleading. Corrections to the
plain or the written statement are essential in such cases. It is for this
purpose that the Code includes provisions (namely Rules 17 and 18 of Order VI)
that enable parties to make certain amendments.
Order VI Rule 17 bestows the power on Courts to permit parties to alter, modify
or amend their respective pleadings at any stage of the proceedings, this would
however be permissible only in cases where the amendment is necessary to resolve
the dispute between the parties. The objective of allowing amendments is to meet
the ends of justice not to defeat the law. The object of courts and rules of
procedure is to decide the rights of the parties and not to punish them for
The proviso to Rule 17 states that amendments are not to be
allowed post the commencement of the trial, at the same time the Court is given
the discretion to allow the same in case it comes to the conclusion that all
material/relevant facts (necessary to the case) could not have not been raised
prior to the commencement of trial.
Another provision of the Code that deals with amendments is Section 153 of CPC
entitled General power to amend which provides that the Court may at any time,
and on such terms as to costs or otherwise as it may think fit, amend any defect
or error in any proceeding in a suit; and all necessary amendments shall be made
for the purpose of determining the real question or issue raised by or depending
on such proceeding.
The Supreme Court in the case of Gurdial Singh & Ors vs Raj Kumar Aneja &
enumerates general practices to be followed while making an amendment.
An amended writ or pleading must be indorsed with a statement that it has been
amended, specifying the date on which it was amended, the name of the judge,
master or registrar by whom any order authorizing the amendment was made and the
date of the order; or, if no such order was made, the number of the rule in
pursuance of which the amendment was made.
The practice is to indicate any
amendment in a different ink or type from the original, and the colour of the
first amendment is usually red. In the same judgement the Apex Court also
reprimanded its subordinate Courts regarding the loose practices followed while
entertaining and dealing with application for amendments stating that if the
same is to continue it is likely to thwart the course of justice
Rajkumar Gurawara (Dead) Through L.Rs vs. S.K. Sarwagi & Company Private Limited
and Revajeetu Builders & Developers vs. Narayanaswamy & Sons &
 are two judgements by the Apex Court of India dealing with the scope of
amendment of pleadings before or after the commencement of the trial and also
provide an illustrative list (to be noted : not exhaustive) of factors that need
to be given due consideration while dealing with an application for amendment.
Before considering the aforementioned factors it is to be noted, as in all
scenarios where the Court is given discretionary powers; although the power to
allow amendments is undoubtedly wide and may be exercised at any stage (notwithstanding the law of limitation) keeping in mind the interests of
justice, the wider the discretion the greater the care and circumspection on the
part of the Court.
Certain principles emerge after analyzing both English as well as Indian
cases and can be summarized into the following points:
- The amendment sought must be imperative for allowing proper and
effective adjudication of the dispute and must be bona fide in nature. The
Court must not refuse bona fide, legitimate, honest and necessary amendments
and should never permit mala fide (example; to delay proceedings) and
dishonest amendments. Parties should be allowed to alter or amend their
pleadings in a manner and on terms that are just.
- Whether the nature of the suit (constitutionally or fundamentally)
changes by permitting an amendment, such as where an amendment would result
in introducing a new cause of action likely to prejudice the other party.
- The amendment if allowed should not cause any kind of prejudice to the
other side that may not be adequately compensated monetarily.
Generally, Courts should decline amendments if a fresh suit on the amended
claims would be barred by limitation on the date of application.
Amendment cannot be claimed as a matter of right and under most
circumstances, the Courts should apply a liberal approach as opposed to a
hyper-technical approach where the possibility of compensating the other party
with costs exists.
Refusing amendments should not lead to injustice or lead to multiplicity of
litigation which must be avoided at all costs.
The judicial trend that has developed seems to be that the delay in filing for
amendment of the pleadings should be properly compensated by costs and error or
mistake which, if not fraudulent, should not be made a ground for rejecting the
application for amendment of plaint or written statement.
There are two parts that form the amendment of pleadings under Order VI Rule 17:
the may and the shall
As observed in the case of Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal & Ors v. K.K. Modi & Ors
may in the first part of provision is what gives the Court the discretionary
power to either allow or disallow applications preferred for amendment of
pleadings. The shall
in the second part functions more as a direction
(obligatory) to the Courts to allow the application if the amendment in question
is vital to determine the real issue at the centre of the dispute between the
parties (real controversy
as explained by the Court in the
The question regarding amendments to written statements by the defendant is
answered by the Court in the case of B.K-Narayana Pillai vs Pararneswaran
Pillai & Anr
while holding that The principles applicable to the
amendments of the plaint are equally applicable to the amendments of the written
 while making it clear that they however stand on a slightly
The courts are more generous in allowing the amendment of the written
statement as question of prejudice is less likely to operate in that event
same was further clarified by the Court in the case of Usha Balasahed Swami v.
Kiran Appaso Swami stating that addition of a new ground of defence or
substituting or altering a defence or taking inconsistent pleas in the written
statement would not be objectionable while adding, altering or substituting a
new cause of action in the plaint may be objectionable.
The expression consequential amendment
is also judicially recognised.
While granting leave to amend a pleading by way of consequential amendment the
Court shall see that the plea sought to be introduced is by way of an answer to
the plea previously permitted to be incorporated by way of amendment by the
opposite party. The same finds mention and application in the case of Bikram
Singh & Ors. Vs. Ram Baboo & Ors.
To conclude it can be said that the mechanism of amendment of pleadings is to
benefit the parties and functions as a means to correct bona fide mistakes and
to ensure that justice can be accorded to both parties.
- In M/s.Ganesh Trading Company v.Moji Ram [1978 (2) SCC 913]
- Cropper v. Smith (1884) 26 Ch.D. 700
- AIR 2002 SC 1003
- (2008) 14 SCC 364
- (2009) 10 SCC 84
- State of A.P. v. Pioneer Builders (2006) 12 SCC 119
- Smt.Ganga Bai v. Vijay Kumar & Ors. [1974 (2) SCC 3931
-  INSC 419
- AIR 2002 SC 1003 (1010) :(2002) 2 SCC 445.
-  INSC 419
- (2007) 5 SCC 602, also see: Baldev Singh (2006) 6 SCC 498
- Gurdial Singh & Ors vs Raj Kumar Aneja & Ors
- AIR 1981 SC