It is important to answer some questions which arise after settlement of
issues due to new discovery of information which might be known to one party but
not to the other. In such circumstances the concept of interrogatories comes
into existence. This research explored the existing documents, literature and
resources available on civil procedure code, 1908 pertaining to the concept of
interrogatories and privileged document.
The study of such documents has been done through the case studies to reach:
I) The objective behind the concept of interrogatories
II) Permissibility of interrogatories
III) The importance of the concept in civil suit.
The silent finding of the study is that the certain measures can be taken to
stop scandalous, mala fide or immaterial interrogatories. Further the
co-existence of interrogatories and privileged document at the time of civil
suit in a civil court.
There is a well settled procedure enshrined in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908
for civil suits, from the presentation of plaint to the summon to the defendant.
In the civil suit, after filing the written statement by the defendant and
summon being sent to both the parties for the first hearing which leads to the
settlement of issues. But there are certain questions which come into existence
after the settlement of issues due to some information received by one party
which might not be known to the other party. In such circumstances the concept
of interrogatories plays an important role. The concept of interrogatories can
be defined as a formal or written question that requires an answer by direction
of the court. The same has been enshrined in the Civil Procedure Code,
1908. “In any suit the plaintiff or defendant by leave of the Court may
deliver interrogatories in writing for the examination of the opposite parties
or any one or more of such parties, and such interrogatories when delivered
shall have a note at the foot thereof stating which of such interrogatories each
of such persons is required to answer.This provision under Civil Procedure
Code clearly states that any party to the suit can go for the interrogatories
against the opposite party. However, there are certain exceptions where these
interrogatories cannot be asked i.e. when there is mala fide intention behind
seeking interrogatories or when there is privileged information or privileged
documents are in question.
Under the Indian laws the following documents fall in the category of
# The documents which are used or may be used as evidence by a party to prove
his own case or title.
# Any information shared by the client with his legal advisor
# Any information or document related to the affairs of the state which may be
confidential in nature and production of the same would be injurious to public
Further, as every civil suit consists of two types of facts. First, the facts
which constitutes a party’s case (factaprobanda) and second, the facts by which
the said case is to be proved (factaprobantia). The first type of facts reveals
the nature of the party’s case and the later type of facts construct the
evidence of his case. The party is only entitled to know first type of facts and
not the later one. To know such facts a party can use a device or instrument of
Under the Civil Procedure Code, the court is empowered to make an order for
discovery. The objective behind such provision is to ascertain the truth by
making parties disclose their case completely. The object behind the concept of
interrogatories can be seen in two ways: Firstly, to understand the nature of
the case of opponent, Secondly, to strengthen his own case.These
interrogatories enable all the parties to obtain information and evidences that
are in possession of other parties. Under the Civil Procedure Code, gathering of
this information is known as discovery. The provisions enshrined in Order XI
not only give the right to obtain but also save the expenses by obtaining
information as to material facts. Under these provisions, each party has a right
to submit interrogatories relating to the matter in issue. The provision
related to interrogatories also narrows the point in issue and saves the party
from time consuming process of obtaining information from his opponent. It
provides a fair chance to the party to prove or support his case or to destroy
the case of other side. Further the power of the court enshrined in the
provisions of Civil Procedure Code related to interrogatories are liberal
and are not restricted by technicalities.
Procedure to Administer:
Interrogatories may be conducted in writing with the permission of the court or
with the subjection to the conditions and limitations directed by the
court.The subject of interrogatories shall be submitted to the court in the
form of application and the court shall decide within seven days of filing of
the application. It can be conducted either by the plaintiff to the
defendant or by the defendant to the plaintiff or by one plaintiff to
another plaintiff or by one defendant to another defendant. Once the party
has delivered one set of interrogatories to the other party, the same party
cannot deliver another set of interrogatories without the permission of court.
The prerequisites to seek an order from court to conduct an interrogatory is
that it should be filed in written form before the court and it can only be
administered after the written statement has been filed by the defendant. In the
case where a corporation or a body of person is a party, the interrogatories can
be conducted to an officer or member of such corporation or body. The
interrogatories shall have reasonable connection with any matter in question in
the suit. This shall be in the form of question of facts and not in the form
of question of law. Further the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 has given the
subscribed format in which the interrogatories must be filed. They should be
in form number 1 and 2 of appendix C and the affidavit which has to be filed
along with interrogatories should be in form number 3 of appendix C. The
affidavit to answer the interrogatories shall be filed within ten days after the
service of interrogatories. Any interrogatory shall not be allowed at an
initial or premature stage of the suit. After the order is being passed by
the court to answer interrogatories if the party fails to comply with it his
suit can be dismissed if he is a plaintiff or his defence can be struck off if
he is a defendant.
Permissibility of Interrogatories:
The general rule says the permissibility of interrogatories is on the discretion
of the court where the courts are empowered to decide on which interrogatories
can be allowed and which interrogatories cannot be allowed. Under the provision
of Civil Procedure Code, it is clearly stated that any party to the suit may
conduct or administer interrogatories against the opponent with the permission
of court. But there have also been some exceptions when the court may deny the
administration of interrogatories by one party against the opponent. Even though
there are not any prescribed provisions regarding what may be allowed and what
not but when there is a question which either proves the case of a party who is
seeking it or destroys the case of opponent, on such interrogatories court shall
take a call-in assertion.
1. What interrogatories are permissible?
As per the general rule, interrogatories are allowed when there is a need of
such interrogatories to prove the case of the party administering the
interrogatories or to destroy the case of his opponent. This rule gives the
right to the party ‘Right to obtain information’ which is a valuable right and
shall not be taken away from the party. As previously mentioned the power of
the courts to order interrogatories is not restrictive and the same shall be
exercised liberally. Whenever the interrogatories are seeked related to any
fact which is relevant to the matter in issue such interrogatories shall be
allowed. However the term “matter” expresses a question or issue in the suit
not the thing about which such dispute arises. Furthermore, the interrogatories
cannot be discarded or disallowed merely on the ground that the party has other
means of proving the fact in question.  Unlike pleadings interrogatories are
not confined to the material facts on which parties intend to rely. They are
more directed to the evidence by which the party interrogating wants to
establish the fact at the trial.
2. What interrogatories are not permissible?
The right to obtain information which is enshrined in the Civil Procedure Code,
Order XI may be abused in certain cases. To restrain or stop such abuse there
shall be certain limits to exercise such right. As per the rule, the power
enshrined in Order XI shall be exercised with care and caution and shall not be
used for oppressing the other side in the suit. In the following circumstances
interrogatories may not be allowed:
# To obtain the facts that is exclusively the evidence of the opponent’s case.
# Any information regarding confidential communication between opponent and his
# If it is irrelevant to the case or not bona fide
# If it involves privileged documents and the disclosure of the same can be
injurious to public interest
# If it is not definite but only in the hope of discovering something i.e. also
called as fishing interrogatories.
# If they are in the nature of cross examination.
# If it is regarding the question of law.
Privilege in Document Discovery (Privileged Documents):
As already stated above the party has a right to obtain information from the
other party to prove his case or to destroy the case of opponent but this right
has certain exceptions where some documents or information cannot be used in
examination for discovery or at trial. Such information or document can be
called as privileged documents. The term privilege in this context refers to a
type of information and document that can be withheld from the discovery process
of the court. The objective behind such privileged documents is to protect the
private interest of the parties and to enable them to access free legal advice.
The same principle has been enshrined in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. It
states that in the following matters or cases the party cannot claim to obtain
information or document through interrogatories.
· The documents or information disclosing the evidence:
The documents or
information which reveals evidence of the party, such document or information
shall not be ordered to be produced. The ratio behind such exception is that
party shall not come to court after knowing how his opponent is going to prove
· If the document or information is regarding the confidential communication
between client and his legal advisor:
This privilege protects
information and communication taken place between a lawyer and a client in the
process of obtaining legal advice. It can be also referred as “solicitor-client
privilege”. To remove vagueness and to avoid confusion in terminology, it may
also be referred as “legal advice privilege”. This privilege is permanent in
duration and belongs exclusively to the client.To claim a privilege on legal
advice there are some essentials which is required to be followed.
a. It must be between a lawyer and a client.
b. It must be made in confidence i.e. must be a confidential communication.
c. It must be in the course of seeking legal advice.
If the document or information is related to affairs of the state and
confidential official communication and the disclosure of the same would be
injurious to public interest : This privilege is bases on the principle of
“saluspopuliest suprema lex” which means public welfare is the highest law. In
English law this privilege is also known as “Crown Privilege”. Under this
privilege the government agencies or officials may refuse to produce the
document or information to the party seeking for it. Although there is no clear
definition regarding this privilege is given in the code. It is mainly an
amorphous concept developed by the case laws.
Privileged Documents: The grounds for objection to answer Interrogatories:
As stated earlier the court order is sine quo to administer interrogatories
against the opponent. However even after the order given by the court, the party
can object interrogatories on the following grounds:
Any interrogatories administered with the
intention to scandalise the proceeding or the suit by raising questions which
are irrelevant. The opponent party can object such interrogatories.
Irrelevant interrogatories: The provisions for interrogatories in the Civil
Procedure Code have made a distinction between interrogatories and cross
examination. It states that it must be directly relevant to the matter in
issue. Further interrogatories shall not be allowed if it does not aim any
defence in law to the suit.
Mala fide interrogatories: Regardless of the fact that the interrogatories are
relevant such interrogatories can be objected on the ground that the ulterior
object of such interrogatories is beyond the scope of the suit. The meaning
thereby is that if the intention of the party to administer interrogatory
against the opponent is malafide such interrogatories can be objected.
Premature interrogatories: Any interrogatory which may be relevant and bona fide
for the purpose of the suit cannot be allowed at the premature stage of the
In the case of Contracts by way of wager: Where there is any suit regarding the
defence of wager the court can refuse to allow the party to administer
interrogatories upon his opponent. The ratio behind such refusal is that it can
be unfair to compel a person to disclose certain information which will only
support the case of the party seeking interrogatory.
Oppressive interrogatories: The party can object interrogatories if such
interrogatories are unduly oppressive to the party.For example: party is
entitled to object interrogatories which are likely to incriminate him of an
offence. However the nature of interrogatories, whether it’s oppressive or
not is a question of fact and depends upon the circumstances of each case.
Privileged documents: As mentioned above any information or document which is
privileged under the rule of law, on the ground of such privilege a party can
object the interrogatories. However, to claim such privilege party must file an
affidavit in the court duly certified and signed by the parties where a court
can decide whether such refusal falls under the ground of privilege documents or
information. Under this privilege the party is not bound to produce public
official documents which may cause a threat to public interest.
Recourse to the Rule 6 of Order XI: As per the Rule 6, party can only object
some of the interrogatories not all interrogatories. However, if a party seeks
to object all the interrogatories, in such circumstances parties shall take
recourse of Rule 7 of Order XI. The application to object all
interrogatories at a time under Rule 7 shall be filed within seven days of
service of such interrogatories.
Under Indian Evidence Act,1872: If the party refuses or objects to any
interrogatories regarding producing any document or information in the court of
law, such information or document cannot be used as evidence without the consent
of the other party or the order of the court.
The intention of the legislature behind the provision of interrogatories is
quite clear. The concept of interrogatories narrows down the points in issue by
saving the parties from extra expenses through enabling them to obtain all
information related to material facts of the case. However, it is a
discretionary power of the court to order interrogatories against the opponent
party but such power shall be exercised very cautiously. To counter scandalous,
mala fide or immaterial interrogatories. Further the right to obtain information
which is given under the statute shall not be used to abuse the interest of
opponent party. Hence there shall be a balance between the right of the parties
administering interrogatories and the privileged information or documents
possessed by opponent party. Such equilibrium shall not be disturbed in any
given circumstances as it can be injurious, dangerous or threat to the public
interest. Further the author recognizes the importance of interrogatories in the
civil suit where this concept can be used as a device to discover the material
facts and to obtain information which is relevant to the matter in issue. It
enables the parties to get a fair chance to present his case before the court of
law with complete information regarding the facts of the case. However, author
would like to highlight certain majors which can be taken for the effective use
of concept of interrogatories in a civil suit.
· Parties must be restricted in seeking interrogatories to gather
information regarding the issue in the case not issues which led to the case.
· Interrogatories can be allowed at an initial stage of suit where such
interrogatories may sub serve the just and fair principle in the suit.
· Where there is a question of privilege, court shall consider the
importance of such information in the light of justice before rejecting such
interrogatories merely on the ground of privileged document.
 Black law dictionary, ed. 2013.
 Order XI, Rule 1.
Mulla, The Code of Civil Procedure, 18th ed. Vol 2
 1953 Mad 228
 Indian Evidence Act,1872, Sec 126 &129.
 Indian Evidence Act,1872, Sec 123 & 124. See also, State of Punjab vs. Sodhi
Sukhdev Singh, AIR 1961 SC 493.
 Civil Procedure Code, Sec 30.
 Thakur Prasad vs. Mohd. Sohayal, AIR 1977 PAT 233.
 Civil Procedure Code,1908, Order XI. see also, concise Oxford English
dictionary, ed. 2002 @ 409.
 Union of India vs. Imbrahim Uddin, (2012) 8 SSC 148.
 Raj Narayan vs. Indira Nehru Gandhi, AIR 1972 SC 1302.
 Supra 2.
 Supra 11.
 Civil Procedure Code,1908, Sec 30, Order XI, Rule 1.
 Order XI, Rule 2; see also, Premsukh vs. Indronath, ILR (1891) 18 Cal 420.
 Civil Procedure Code,1908, Order XI, Rule 1.
 Civil Procedure Code, 1908, Order XI, Rule 5.
Civil Procedure Code, 1908, Order XI, Rule 6 & 7.
 Civil Procedure Code, 1908, Order XI, Rule 4 & 9.
 Civil Procedure code, 1908, Order XI, Rule 8.
 Civil Procedure Code, 1908,Order XI, Rule 20
 Civil Procedure Code, 1908,Order XI, Rule 11
Ramlalsao vs. Tansingh,AIR 1952 Nag 135.
 Raj Narayan vs. Indira Nehru Gandhi, AIR 1972 SC 1302..
 Nishi Prem vs. JavedAktar, AIR 1988 Bom 222.
 Supra 26.
 Civil Procedure Code, 1901,Order XI
 M.L Sethi vs. R.P. Kapur, (1972) 2 SCC 427.
 Indian Evidence Act, 1872,Sec 126 & 129
 Blank vs. Canada,  2 S.C.R. 319.
 Indian Evidence Act, 1872,Sec 123 & 124.
 Civil Procedure Code,1908.
 United States vs. Schine Chain Theatres, 4 F.R.D. 108.
Allusen vs. Labouchare,( 1878) 3 QBD 654.
Re Howel Morgan, (1888) 39 CD 316.
Neckram vs. Bank of Bengal, (1887) 14 Cal 703.
Bhagwadas vs. Burjorji, (1913) 37 Bom 347.
 Civil Procedure Code,1908, Order XI, Rule 7
 Meenakshi Sundaram vs. Radha Krishnan, AIR 1960 Mad 184.
 Hall vs. London and North-western railway company,(1877) 35 LT 848.
 Ram raja vs. Deo Narain, AIR 1945 Pat 453.
Wadder vs. EI Co., (1865) 8 De GM & G 182. See also, Jehangir vs. Secretary
of state,(1904) 6 Bom LR 131.
 Civil Procedure code, 1908.
TeneriaModenna Franco vs. Newzealand Insurance co., (1924) 1 KB 79.
 Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Sec 164