Misjoinder of Causes of Action – Multifariousness

By | April 26, 2020
Misjoinder of Causes of Action

Misjoinder of parties or causes of action has been regarded under the code as a mere irregularity. So, neither a suit will be dismissed on the ground of misjoinder of parties or causes of action, nor a decree can be reversed or substantially varied in appeals.

Introduction

Joinder of causes of action is laid down under Order 2 Rule 3 of CPC which provides that the court has the power to order separate trials of different issues arising in a suit where several causes of action have been properly joined. The convenience or inconvenience of the parties is immaterial. If a case is covered by this rule, the court may order separate trials if it finds inconvenient to try different causes of action in one suit.

The first part of Rule 3(1) deals with cases of a plaintiff uniting in one suit several causes of action against the same defendant or defendants jointly, the second part relates to causes of several plaintiffs uniting in one suit several “causes of action in which they are jointly interested against the same defendant or defendants jointly.”

Rule 3(2) clarifies that where several causes of action have been united in one suit, the jurisdiction of the court will depend on the aggregate value of the subject-matter of the suit.

One Plaintiff or Defendant and Several Causes of Action

The “plaintiff is at liberty to unite in the same suit several causes of action where there is only one plaintiff and one defendant. But if it appears to the court that the joinder of causes of action may embarrass or delay the trial or is otherwise inconvenient, the court may order” separate trials.[1]

One Plaintiff, Two or More Defendants and Several Causes of Action

Where there are one plaintiff and two or more defendants and several causes of action, the plaintiff may unite in the same suit several causes of action against those defendants, if the defendants are jointly interested in the causes of action. Therefore, two or more defendants can be joined in one suit, provided the following two conditions are fulfilled-

  1. The relief claimed must have been based on the same act or transaction; (or a series of acts or transactions); and
  2. Common questions of law or fact must have been involved.[2]

In Haramund v. Prasunno Chunder[3], A sold certain properties to B. After the sale, all the properties were attached in execution of a decree obtained by C against A, and were sold in execution to D, E and F. A suit was filed by B against A, C, D, E and F for setting aside execution sale. It was held that the sale is not bad for multifariousness as all the defendants must be interested and liable jointly in each of the causes of action in the suit.

Similarly, in In Re D. Lakshminarayana Chettiar and anr.,[4] the full bench of Madras High Court observed that

“Ordinarily every cause of action must be a basis for a single suit, but several causes of action may be united in one action.”

The court held if a defendant executed two promissory notes in favour of a plaintiff, where one suit can be instituted for the recovery of the amounts due under the two promissory notes. But if several defendants jointly borrow money on different promissory notes from a plaintiff, he can file one suit for recovery of the amount due to him from all the defendants jointly. In the same manner, if the plaintiffs are joint promises in respect of different promissory notes from the same defendant singly or same defendants jointly, one suit could be filed.

Misjoinder of Plaintiffs and Causes of Action

Order 2 Rule 3 enacts that where two or more “plaintiffs are jointly interested in two or more causes of action against the same defendant or defendants, they may join all such causes in one suit.” However, this rule has to be read subject to the provisions of Order 1 Rule 1 which permits joinder of plaintiffs in one suit if their right of relief arises out of the same act or transaction or series of acts or transactions, and common questions of fact or law arising in the suit.[5]

Thus, where the right to relief does not arise out of the same act or transaction or series of acts or transactions or common question of law or fact are not involved in the suit, the plaintiffs cannot unite in one suit several causes of action and the suit will be bad for misjoinder of plaintiffs and cause of action.[6]

Misjoinder of Defendants and Causes of Action

This rule permits a plaintiff to join in the same suit two or more causes of action against two or more defendants if the defendants are jointly liable. Joint “interest in the main questions raised in the litigation is a condition precedent to the joinder of several causes of action against several” defendants.[7]

Order 1 Rule 3 allows joinder of defendants in one suit if the right of relief claimed is based on the same act or transaction or series of acts or transactions, and common questions of fact or law arising in the suit.[8]

In Raja Ram Tewari v. Lachman Pershad,[9] C.J. Barnes Peacock stated:

“Joinder in one suit of distinct causes of action against different defendants, each of whom is unconnected with the cause of action against the other, complicates the case before the judge, and renders it exceedingly difficult for him in dealing with the case of each defendant to exclude from his consideration those portions of the evidence which may not be admissible against him, though admissible against one or more of the others.”

Moreover, it is vexatious and harassing to the different defendants. even it is harassing and inconvenient to the witnesses of defendants, as each witness has to be present whilst the case is being heard and determined.

A suit against two or more defendants on two or more causes of action accrued against the defendants separately when such defendants are jointly liable is bad for misjoinder of defendants and causes of action, it is known as multifariousness.

In a case of a suit of recovery of loan advanced on an overdraft account, the agent was arrayed as a defendant alleging that he had acted in excess of his authority, and the Managing Director was also joined as a defendant on the ground that he had approved the action of the agent, it was held that the suit was bad as there was multifariousness.[10]

In Jaswantrai v. Vimal,[11] the suit filed by husband against his wife for divorce on the ground of adultery, a claim for damages against the adulterer cannot be made as he cannot be joined as a defendant.

Misjoinder of Plaintiffs, Defendants and Causes of Action

Where there are two or more plaintiffs or defendants and several causes of action, the plaintiffs may unite the causes of action against the defendants in the same suit only when all the plaintiffs are jointly interested in the causes of action and the defendants are also jointly interested in the causes of action. if the plaintiffs are not jointly interested in the causes of action, the suit will be bad for misjoinder of plaintiffs and causes of action.

On the other hand, if the defendants are not jointly interested in the causes of action, the suit will be bad for multifariousness. And if neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants are jointly interested in the causes of action, the suit will be bad for double misjoinder, i.e. misjoinder of plaintiffs and causes of action and misjoinder of defendants and causes of action.[12]

Objection

When an objection is taken as to misjoinder of parties or causes of action at an appropriate stage, the court may permit the plaintiff to elect as to which of them will proceed with the suit as filed in case of misjoinder of plaintiffs or against which of the defendants in the case of misjoinder of defendants, or with which of the causes of action in case of misjoinder of causes of action.[13]

The court may either allow the amendment or withdrawal of suit with permission to file a fresh suit on the same cause of action.” such amendment can be granted at the appellate stage also.

Jurisdiction

As per Order 2 Rule 3(2) where several causes of action are combined in one suit, the jurisdiction of the court as regards the suit will depend on the amount or value of the aggregate subject-matter of the suit. If the valuation of the suit based on several causes of action exceeds the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court, the plaintiff can bring separate suits, by separating jurisdiction of the court.[14]

In K. Lingayya Setty v. Sitharam Agarwala and Anr.,[15] the plaintiff filed a suit before the District Court, Bellary against Defendant No. 1 & 2. Where it was found that the court has jurisdiction upon Defendant No.1 since the cause of action had arisen within the local limits of the Bellary Court but not as regards to defendant no.2 as he neither resided nor carried on business within the jurisdiction of that court nor the cause of action arose within the jurisdiction of the court, it was held that the court was not competent to try the suit.

Similarly in Laxmikumar v. Krishnaram Baldev Bank,[16] Laxmikumar executed three mortgages of three separate properties situated in three different districts in favour of the bank, a suit to enforce all the mortgages were filed in Gwalior, where only one of the three properties was situated. Held, not maintainable as Rule 2(2) had no application.

Appeal and Revision

A decision as to a suit is bad for misjoinder of parties or causes of action is neither a decree nor an appealable order under the code, but is said to be a case decided. And no appeal lies against such order as per the code, though a revision can be sought.[17]

In Varajlal v. Ramdat,[18] the defendant objected to the frame of a suit on the ground that the suit is bad for misjoinder of plaintiffs and causes of action, nut the objection was overruled, and a decree was passed for the plaintiffs. The defendant then files an appeal from the decree on the ground that the suit ought to have been held to be bad for misjoinder of plaintiffs and causes of action. the Appellate court found that there has been a misjoinder, and it should not interfere with the decree unless the misjoinder had affected the merit of the case.

Conclusion

Misjoinder of parties or causes of action has been regarded under the code as a mere irregularity. So, neither a suit will be dismissed on the ground of misjoinder of parties or causes of action, nor a decree can be reversed or substantially varied in appeals.[19]

Wherever there has been misjoinder of parties or causes of action, the law requires that such objection must be taken at the earliest opportunity, otherwise, it will be deemed to have been waived. Though an objection on the ground of misjoinder of causes of action does not affect the merits of the case, no decree can be reversed in appeal on account of such misjoinder of causes of action not affecting the merits of the case.


[1] Shukla v. Manjolyn, AIR 1975 Cal 427

[2] Sorab Dinshaji v. Cassad, AIR 1963 Bom 173

[3] (1883) 9 Cal 763

[4] AIR 1954 Mad 594

[5] Sitaram v. Rajendra, AIR 1956 Ass 7

[6] Ramendra Nath v. Brijendra Nath, (1915) 45 Cal 111

[7] Bhagwati Prasad v. Bindeshri Gir, (1884) 6 All 106

[8] Nagendra Bala v. Provash Chandra, AIR 1953 Cal 185

[9] (1867) 8 Suth WR 15 (FB)

[10] Brajabala v. Gauhati Bank Ltd., AIR 1962 Ass 85

[11] AIR 1963 Guj 152

[12] Amrik Singh v. B.S. Malik, AIR 1966 Punj 344

[13] Alridge v. Barrow, ILR 34 Cal 662

[14] Sarju Hajuri v. Ram Krishna, AIR 1956 VP 6

[15] AIR 195 Mad 595

[16] AIR 1954 MB 156

[17] Ramavtar v. Ramsevak, AIR 1951 Pat 352

[18] (1902) ILR 26 Bom 259

[19] Muthappa v. Muthu, ILR (1904) 27 Mad. 80


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