General rules of filing a plaint under CPC

By | November 9, 2019
A study of the general rules of filing a plaint under the code of civil procedure, 1908

The rules that apply to plaint, in general, are referred to as general rules of plaint and rules which specific to the drafting of plaint are referred to as specific rules of plaint.

Introduction

Order 6 Rule 1 of the CPC defines pleadings as “a plaint or a written statement”[1]. It means that plaint is the pleading filed on behalf of the victim, i.e. plaintiff. It is the first step to initiate a civil suit in a court of law. The plaintiff, after employing a counsel, files a document in the court which contains the facts and circumstances that gave rise to the cause for filing the suit. This document is called plaint.

As understood from above, plaint is a pleading under the CPC and therefore, by virtue of being a pleading, certain general rules that apply to pleadings also apply to plaint as well. However, there are certain exceptions and additions that apply only to plaint and not to a written statement or any other form of pleadings. The rules that apply to plaint, in general, are referred to as general rules of plaint and rules which specific to the drafting of plaint are referred to as specific rules of plaint.

General Rules of Plaint

Order 6 Rule 2(1) states that “every pleading shall contain, and contain only, a statement in a concise form of the material facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim or defence, as the case may be, but not the evidence by which they are to be proved”[2]. As aforementioned, this rule also applies to plaint as it is one of the pleadings as defined under Order 6 Rule 1. Thus, this provision indicates that there are four basic or fundamental rules of documenting a plaint:

  1. Plaint ought to state the facts of the case and not the legal provisions applicable in the case.
  2. A plaint must contain only material facts.
  3. Plaints should contain the relevant facts on which either party relies but it should not state the evidence by which the fact is proposed to be proved.
  4. Plaint must contain a concise, i.e. brief facts that explain the details of the case in short.

Now, these rules are discussed profusely as follows:

  • Plaint ought to state the facts of the case and not the legal provisions applicable in the case:

In Kedar Lal v. Hari Lal[3], the apex court held that the parties to a civil suit are obliged only to state the facts and situations that happened and on which they rely in the pleadings and to apply the law is the duty of the judiciary. It means that the parties should state what their claims are and why they should be granted to them. For instance, in the earlier example where A complained about B hitting him, A should explain only what caused the fight, what was A’s role in the fight, why did B hit him and should not explain what offence has been committed by A by hitting B and which provision should apply and what procedure should be followed.

However, the rule was expanded a little in Union of India v. Sita Ram Jaiswal[4] wherein the apex court held that if there is a point of law which is in dispute or which has become part of the dispute, the point of law must be explained in the pleadings with necessary reference to relevant and vital facts of the case.

  • Plaint must contain only material facts:

This the essential rule which states that facts which are material should find a place in pleadings. The question that remains is what constitutes material fact and which fact is immaterial. There is no specific definition of the expression ‘material fact’ either in the CPC or any other law. Nevertheless, the apex court has explained the meaning of ‘material fact’ in Udhav Singh v. Madhav Scindia[5]. The court averred that ‘material facts’ all those primary facts that are relied on by the parties either to substantiate their claims and establish their cause of action or used for their effective defence or counterclaim against the claiming party.

It has been observed by the courts that what type of facts or information would amount to a material fact is a subjective issue and shall be determined by the court on a case to case basis depending upon the circumstances of the case.

  • Plaint should contain the relevant facts on which either party relies but it should not state the evidence by which the fact is proposed to be proved:

According to this rule, the evidence must be omitted from the pleadings. In other words, the party is not obliged to mention the documentary evidence or the witnesses which it proposes to produce before the court to be used against the adverse party. This is to ensure the fairness of a trial and assure the safety of the evidence. There are two types of facts according to jurisprudence, i.e. facta probanda and facta probantia.

Facta Probanda means facts which are essential for either party to prove their case and establish their cause of action or defence as the case may be. These facts are necessitated by Order 6 Rule 2 to be mentioned in the pleading. Contrary to this, facta probantia means facts which are in the form of evidence. Any fact which is in the form of evidence and which shall be used by the parties to prove the facta probanda shall not be mentioned in the pleading.

  • Plaint must contain a concise, i.e. brief facts that explain the details of the case in short:

The last and final basic or fundamental rule which is also called the ‘rule of brevity’ requires that the pleadings are short, unambiguous and not capable of multiple interpretations but only one interpretation that the pleader desires to convey.

In Virendra Kashinath v. Vinayak N. Joshi[6], the court observed that pleadings must be brief and niggling should be avoided. However, it does not mean that essential facts need to be omitted or missed in an attempt to achieve brevity. However, the court averred, if syntax errors and drafting style is perfect, pleadings can be precise and legible.

Additional Rules for Drafting Plaint

Besides the above rules which apply on plaint and written statement equally, there is a certain sine qua non under Order 7 Rules 2 and 3 that apply only to the plaint. There are several rules which are specific to the documenting a plaint but these rules keep changing and amending according to the decisions of the courts. The main four rules are:

  1. Plaint ought to state the accurate amount of compensation claimed by the plaintiff from the defendant.
  2. A plaint must disclose every detail of the property in dispute to allow authentic identification of property.
  3. When the plaintiff has commenced the proceeding as a legal representative, the plaint must contain particulars to show that the representative has sufficient interest to commence the proceedings.
  4. Plaint must contain a concise explanation for the reasons why there was a delay in filing the plaint and why such delay should be condoned.

Now, these rules are discussed profusely as follows:

  1. Plaint ought to state the accurate amount of compensation claimed by the plaintiff from the defendant.

According to Order 7 Rule 2, a plaint must reveal or disclose the accurate amount of damages claimed or accurate value or worth of the property claimed as damages or relief for the suit. The amount of compensation should be clearly mentioned and should not be vague.

The compensation must be mentioned both in numerical and in words to avoid any sort of confusion and ambiguity and if the two figures are different, the one mentioned in words are to be considered as accurate. Moreover, if the exact or accurate amount of compensation cannot be determined in the given circumstances of the case, for instance, in situations of mesne profits, the approximate amount can be mentioned by the plaintiff.

  • A plaint must disclose every detail of the property in dispute to allow authentic identification of property.

Rule 3 of Order 7 requires that a plaint must disclose the identity of the property in dispute (if the dispute is with respect to the property) clearly and in toto.

The general rule or practice is that the plaint must contain a schedule of property that describes the address of the property, the tehsildar, registration and khatha number of the property. Further, the areas in the vicinities of the property, i.e. on the four sides of the property must be described to prevent and perplexity arising with respect of identification of the property.

  • When the plaintiff has commenced the proceeding as a legal representative, the plaint must contain particulars to show that the representative has sufficient interest to commence the proceedings.

Rule 3 further requires that if the plaint is filed by a person on behalf of another as his/her legal representative, the plaint must contain pleadings with respect to the locus standi of the person and must disclose whether the person has the requisite interest to sue on behalf of the actual plaintiff.

For instance, if a director of a company files a plaint on behalf of the company, it is essential to mention that the director had the authority to sign the legal documents on behalf of the company. Therefore, a plaint must contain the board resolution or power of attorney (as the case may be) to prove that the person is authorized representative.

  • Plaint must contain a concise explanation for the reasons why there was a delay in filing the plaint and why such delay should be condoned.

Lastly, if the plaint is filed after the period of limitation and is barred by the law of limitation from being admitted, the plaintiff must disclose the reasons why the plaint has been delayed and the grounds on which the delay is expected to be condoned. In general practice, a separate application of condonation of delay is filed before the court along with the plaint. However, it forms an essential part of the plaint.


REFERENCES:

  1. Takwani C. K., Civil Procedure with Limitation Act, 1963, 7thEdition, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 2013.
  2. Sir D.F. Mulla, The Code of Civil Procedure, 19th Edition, Vol. 3, Lexis Nexis, 2017.

[1] Order 6 Rule 1, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

[2] Order 6, Rule 2(1), Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

[3] Kedar Lal v. Hari Lal, AIR 1952 SC 47.

[4] Union of India v. Sita Ram Jaiswal,

[5] Udhav Singh v. Madhav Scindia,

[6] Virendra Kashinath v. Vinayak N. Joshi, (1999) 1 SCC 47.36+


  1. History of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC)(Opens in a new browser tab)
  2. 5 Tips On How To Craft The Best Legal Paper(Opens in a new browser tab)
Ashish
Author: Ashish

Ashish has a flair for legal research and writing on contemporary issues. He believes the law is not a course but a Value Education subject that everyone should be taught at the school level. Belonging to the legal fraternity, he owes a responsibility to the future law aspirants and tries to assist them through their law school until they chose a career in law.

What did I miss? Don't forget to leave your valuable feedback