Del HC | Permission to amend written statement after plaintiff’s evidence denied in view of proviso to Order 6 Rule 17 CPC

Delhi High Court: Pratibha M. Singh, J., dismissed a petition filed against the order of the trial court whereby it had rejected the petitioner-defendant’s application under Order 6 Rule 17 CPC (amendment of pleadings) seeking amendment in their written statement.

The instant suit which was filed for specific performance in 2005 had a long and chequered history. The petitioner, in 2006, had filed an application for impleadment which was initially dismissed. However, later the Division Bench of the High Court allowed it and provided a limited right to the petitioner to file a written statement to participate in the proceedings. Subsequently, the petitioner had filed an application under Order 6 Rule 17 at the time when the plaintiff’s evidence had been commenced. This application was rejected by the trial court.

Ratnesh Bansal, Advocate appearing for the petitioner, sought to urge that the amendment which was sought now had arisen because some questions were not permitted to be put to the plaintiff’s witness in cross-examination. Per contra, Rajiv Garg, Ashish Garg and L.S. Rana, Advocates representing the plaintiff, vehemently opposed the application for amendment.

The High Court noted that initially the petitioner was given a restricted right to file a written statement but the written statement which was filed was beyond the liberty given by the Court. That led to considerable delay in the matter. The evidence by the plaintiff commenced in 2017 and concluded in 2018. Though the application for amendment was filed in 2017, it seemed to have been urged and pressed only after the cross-examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses has concluded.

Notably, the proviso to Order 6 Rule 17 states:

“Provided that no application for amendment shall be allowed after the trial has commenced unless the Court comes to the conclusion that in spite of due diligence, the party could not have raised the matter before the commencement of trial.”

Perusing the record and considering the submissions made the parties, the High Court held that the written statement being sought to be amended now was not only hopelessly barred but was also beyond the liberty which was initially granted. The trial court, therefore, rightly dismissed the application for amendment. After the conclusion of the plaintiff’s evidence, such an amendment could not be permitted in view of the proviso to Order 6 Rule 17 CPC. [Naresh Kumar v. Meer Singh, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 398, decided on 28-01-2020]

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