Application for discovery of documents under Order XI Rule 12 of CPC filed after the stage of settlement of issues is non-maintainable

Jharkhand High Court: A Single Judge bench comprising of Chandrashekhar, J. dismissed a civil writ petition filed against the order of trial court dismissing petitioner’s application for discovery of documents.

In the present case, the petitioner was the defendant in suit in trial court; where he had filed an application under Order XI Rule 12 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 seeking discovery of documents from the respondent-plaintiff. The said application was filed after the closure of respondent – plaintiff’s evidence. Trial court dismissed the petitioner – defendant’s application and the said order was challenged in the present petition.

The court observed that the scheme of trial laid out under Order XIII CPC requires the parties to produce original documents before the stage of settlement of issues. The Act requires the parties to produce the documents on the basis of which their claim is founded, at the time of presentation of plaint or filing of written statement. It is for this very reason that the provisions regarding interrogatories and discovery of documents have been laid down under Order XI CPC.

It was observed that the petitioner-defendant had failed the discovery application at a belated stage after the closure of respondent – plaintiff’s evidence and that too after a delay of about 5 months in filing their own evidence. As such, the trial court was right in holding the application to be non-maintainable. On this holding, the writ petition was dismissed. [Samir Sen v Rita Ghosh,2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 1198, Order dated 17-09-2018]

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