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Producing Additional Document At The Stage Of Cross-Examination

The Criminal Method Code of 1973 is the main code governing the procedure followed by Indian courts when dealing with criminal proceedings, i.e., matters involving state offences. The Civil Procedure Code of 1908 (abbreviated CPC) is the mother code that governs the court's practice and procedure in all civil and private party disputes.

As observed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, was the driving force behind liberal interpretation of procedural law, such as taking on record the documents or additional documents by various Indian Courts, and failure of fair play is the spirit in which courts must view processual deviances, and failure of fair play is the spirit in which courts must view processual deviances.

Order 7 Rule 14 CPC and Order 13 Rule 1 CPC or Order 8 Rule 1 CPC are the appropriate provisions of the Civil Procedure Code 1908 for the purpose of taking the documents on record (3). These requirements apply when a plaintiff or defendant fails to file all of the required papers at the time of filing the plaint or written statement, and then wants to rely on additional documents at a later stage of the litigation. To begin, let us discuss the provisions of Order 7 Rule 14 CPC and Order 13 Rule 1 CPC.

Order 7 Rule 14 CPC. Documents relied on in Plaint.- Production of document on which plaintiff sues or relies:

  1. Where a plaintiff sues upon a document or relies upon document in his possession or power in support of his claim, he shall enter such documents in a list, and shall produce it in court when the plaint is presented by him and shall, at the same time deliver the document and a copy thereof, to be filed with the plaint.

  2. Where any such documents not in the possession or power of the plaintiff, he shall, wherever possible, state in whose possession or power it is.

  3. A document which ought to be produced in Court by the plaintiff when the plaint is presented, or to be entered in the list to be added or annexed to the plaint but is not produced or entered accordingly, shall not without the leave of the Court, be received in evidence on his behalf at the hearing of the suit.

  4. Nothing in this rule shall apply to document produced for the cross examination of the plaintiff's witnesses, or, handed over to a witness merely to refresh his memory.

Order 13 Rule 1 CPC. Documentary evidence to be produced at or before the settlement of issues.
  1. The parties or their pleaders shall produce, at or before the settlement of issues, all the documentary evidence of every description in their possession or power, on which they intend to rely, and which has not already been filed in Court, and all documents which the Court has ordered to be produced.

Order 7 Rule 14 CPC and Order 13 Rule 1 CPC are intended to address situations in which a plaintiff wishes to place on record additional documents subsequent to filing of plaint. At the time of filing of plaint, plaintiff must place on record all the documents in his authority and possession under these requirements. While these documents could have been filed by the plaintiff at the time of filing the plaint, they could also have been filed later once the issues were framed, but in that case, the plaintiff would need leave or prior authorization from the court.

The other applicable provision of Civil Procedure Code 1908 is Order 8 Rule 1 (3) CPC, which is likewise relevant when the opponent, in this case the defendant, desires to file an additional document after filing his written statement at a later stage.

The following is reproduction thereof:
Order 8 Rule 1 CPC: Duty of defendant to produce documents upon which relief is claimed or relied upon by him
  1. Where the defendant bases his defence upon a document or relies upon any document in his possession or power, in support of his defence or claim for set off or counter claim, he shall enter such document in a list, and shall produce it in court when the written statement is presented by him and shall, at the same time, deliver the document and a copy thereof, to be filed with the written statement.
     
  2. Where any such document is not in possession or power of the defendant, he shall, wherever possible, state in whose possession or power it is.
     
  3. A document which ought to be produced in Court by the defendant under this rule, but, is not so produced shall not, without the leave of the Court, be received in evidence on his behalf at the hearing of the suit.].

The plaintiff is required to file all papers in his power and possession while filing the plaint under the terms of Order 7 Rule 14 CPC and Order 13 Rule 1 CPC. During the filing of the written statement, the defendant is held to a comparable duty under Order 8 Rule 1 CPC.

The requirement of Order 8 Rule 1 CPC casts duty on the defendant to place on record any documents in his power and possession at the time of filing the written statement. While these documents could have been filed by the defendant at the outset of the case when filing the written statement, they could also have been filed later after the issues were framed, but in that case, leave or prior permission of the court is required under Order 8 Rule 1 (3) Civil Procedure Code 1980.

What would be situation where the defendant does not file the documents not at the time of filing written statement, not at the time of framing of issues and that the defendant desires to place the same on record only at the stage of cross examination.

In a recent decision dealing with a similar circumstance, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi applied a liberal interpretation to the clause of Order 8 Rule 1 (3) CPC. In a commercial dispute bearing CS (Comm) No.247 of 2019 titled as:
Jindal Stainless (Hisar) Limited Vs Saourabh Jinal & Ors, Hon'ble Justice Shri Suresh Kumar Kait of the High Court of Delhi, which was pronounced on 03.01.2021.

The plaintiff brought the case to safeguard his proprietary rights in the brand Jindal, alleging trademark infringement and passing off. The case's pertinent circumstances were that defendant No. 1 filed a written statement on June 26, 2019.

On the 05.09.2019, issues in the case were framed. The plaintiff's witness, PW-1, was cross examined in part on January 16, 2020, and the case was adjourned further for remaining cross examination.

At this point in the cross-examination of the Plaintiff's witness (PW1), the Defendant filed an application with the Hon'ble Court under Order 8 Rule 1 (3) CPC, requesting permission to take the extra document on record.

The Hon'ble High Court of Delhi based its decision on a comment made by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Sugandhi (Dead) by Legal Representatives and Others Vs. P. Rajkumar (2020) 10 SCC 706.

In this judgement, the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has given a wide and liberal interpretation of the afore mentioned provision of law while dealing with the issue of taking on record the additional document subsequent to the filing of a written statement. The relevant portion of the aforementioned decision is reproduced below:

9. 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 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 production of the documents under sub-rule (3)."

Thus, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, in its aforesaid recent judgement, reaffirmed the need to treat procedural law liberally and ordered the defendant's additional documents to be taken into account while allowing the defendant's application under Order 8 Rule 1 (3) CPC, which was filed even while cross examination of Plaintiff's Witness, PW-1, was in progress.

As a result, the court's emphasis on fair play outweighed the necessity for a rigorous interpretation of procedural law.

Written By: Ajay Amitabh Suman: Advocate [High Court Of Delhi]

Suggested Articles On Cross Examination:

  1. Cross Examination In Criminal Proceedings-An Overview
  2. Additional Documents At The Trial Stage
  3. Here is a list of stages in a Contest Divorce Proceedings
  4. Credibility of Witness Can Be Established Only After Cross Examination By The Accused: Allahabad HC
  5. Cross Examination In Case of Injunction Suits - CPC
  6. SC Issues Directions on Examination of Witnesses In Criminal Trial

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