ORDER VIII of CIVIL PROCEDURE CODE (CPC) – WRITTEN STATEMENT, SET-OFF AND COUNTER-CLAIM
1. Written statement.
(1) The defendant shall, at or before the first hearing or within such time as the Court may permit, present a written statement of his defence.
(2) Save as otherwise provided in rule 8A, where the defendant relies on any document (whether or not in his possession or power) in support of his defence or claim for set-off or counter claim, he shall enter such documents in a list, and shall,-
(a) If a written statement is presented, annex the list to the written statement:
Provided that where the defendant, in his written statement, claims a set-off or makes a counter-claim based on a document in his possession or power, he shall produce it in Court at the time of presentation of the written statement and shall at the same time deliver the document or copy thereof to be filed with the written statement.
FOR COMMERCIAL COURTS-
“Provided that where the defendant fails to file the written statement within the said period of thirty days, he shall be allowed to file the written statement on such other day, as may be specified by the Court, for reasons to be recorded in writing and on payment of such costs as the Court deems fit, but which shall not be later than one hundred twenty days from the date of service of summons and on expiry of one hundred twenty days from the date of service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right to file the written statement and the Court shall not allow the written statement to be taken on record.”
(b) If a written statement is not presented, present the list to the Court at the first hearing of the suit.
(3) Where any such document is not in the possession or power of the defendant, he shall, wherever possible, state in whose possession or power it is.
(4) If no such list is so annexed or presented, the defendant shall be allowed such further period for the purpose as the Court may think fit.
(5) A document which ought to be entered in the list referred to in sub-rule (2), and which is not so entered, shall not, without the leave of the Court, be received in evidence on behalf of the defendant at the hearing of the suit.
(6) Nothing in sub-rule (5) shall apply to documents produced for the cross-examination of plaintiff’s witnesses or in answer to any case set up by the plaintiff subsequent to the filing of the plaint, or handed over to a witness merely to refresh his memory.
(7) Where a Court grants leave under sub-rule (5), it shall record its reasons for so doing and no such leave shall be granted unless good cause is shown to the satisfaction of the Court for the non-entry of the document in the list referred to in sub-rule (2).
1A. Duty of defendant to produce documents upon which relief is claimed or relied upon by him.
(1) Where the defendant bases his defence upon a document or relies upon any document in his possession or power, in support of his defence or claim for set off or counter claim, he shall enter such document in a list, and shall produce it in court when the written statement is presented by him and shall, at the same time, deliver the document and a copy thereof, to be filed with the written statement.
(2) Where any such document is not in the possession or power of the defendant, he shall, wherever possible, state in whose possession or power it is.
(3) A document which ought to be produced in Court by the defendant under this rule, but, is not so produced shall not, without the leave of the Court, be received in evidence on his behalf at the hearing of the suit.
(4) Nothing in this rule shall apply to documents-
(a) produced for the cross-examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses, or
(b) handed over to a witness merely to refresh his memory.
2. New facts must be specially pleaded.
The defendant must raise by his pleading all matters which show the suit not be maintainable, or that the transaction is either void or voidable in point of law, and all such grounds of defence as, if not raised, would be likely to take the opposite party by surprise, or would raise issues of fact not arising out of the plaint, as, for instance, fraud, limitation, release, payment, performance, or facts showing illegality.
3. Denial to be specific.
It shall not be sufficient for a defendant in his written statement to deny generally the grounds alleged by the plaintiff, but the defendant must deal specifically with each allegation of fact of which he does not admit the truth, except damages.
FOR COMMERCIAL COURTS-
(3A) Denial by the defendant in suits before the Commercial Division of the High Court or the Commercial Court-
(1) Denial shall be in the manner provided in sub-rules (2), (3), (4) and (5) of this Rule.
(2) The defendant in his written statement shall state which of the allegations in the particulars of plaint he denies, which allegations he is unable to admit or deny, but which he requires the plaintiff to prove, and which allegations he admits.
(3) Where the defendant denies an allegation of fact in a plaint, he must state his reasons for doing so and if he intends to put forward a different version of events from that given by the plaintiff, he must state his own version.
(4) If the defendant disputes the jurisdiction of the Court he must state the reasons for doing so, and if he is able, give his own statement as to which Court ought to have jurisdiction.
(5) If the defendant disputes the plaintiff’s valuation of the suit, he must state his reasons for doing so, and if he is able, give his own statement of the value of the suit.
4. Evasive denial.
Where a defendant denies an allegation of fact in the plaint, he must not do so evasively, but answer the point of substance, Thus, if it is alleged that he received a certain sum of money, it shall not be sufficient to deny that he received that particular amount, but he must deny that he received that sum or any part thereof, or else set out how much he received. And if an allegation is made with diverse circumstances, it shall not be sufficient to deny it along with those circumstances.
5. Specific denial.
(1) Every allegation of fact in the plaint, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication, or stated to be not admitted in the pleading of the defendant, shall be taken to be admitted except as against a person under disability:
Provided that the Court may in it discretion require any fact so admitted to be proved otherwise than by such admission.
FOR COMMERCIAL COURTS-
“Provided further that every allegation of fact in the plaint, if not denied in the manner provided under Rule 3A of this Order, shall be taken to be admitted except as against a person under disability.”
(2) Where the defendant has not filed a pleading, it shall be lawful for the Court to pronounce judgment on the basis of the facts contained in the plaint, except as against a person under a disability, but the Court may, in its discretion, require any such fact to be proved.
(3) In exercising its discretion under the proviso to sub-rule (1) or under sub-rule (2), the Court shall have due regard to the fact whether the defendant could have, or has, engaged a pleader.
(4) Whenever a judgment is pronounced under this rule, a decree shall be drawn up in accordance with such judgment and such decree shall bear the date on which the judgment was pronounced.
6. Particulars of set-off to be given in written statement.
(1) Where in a suit for the recovery of money the defendant claims to set-off against the plaintiff’s demand any ascertained sum of money legally recoverable by him from the plaintiff, not exceeding the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of the Court, and both parties fill the same character as they fill in the plaintiff’s suit, the defendant may, at the first hearing of the suit, but not afterwards unless permitted by the Court, presents a written statement containing the particulars of the debt sought to be set-off.
(2) Effect of set-off- The written statement shall have the same effect as a plaint in a cross-suit so as to enable the Court to pronounce a final judgment in respect both of the original claim and of the set-off : but this shall not affect the lien, upon the amount decreed, of any pleader in respect of the costs payable to him under the decree.
(3) The rules relating to a written statement by a defendant apply to a written statement in answer to a claim of set-off.
(a) A bequeaths Rs. 2,000 to B and appoints C his executor and residuary legatee. B dies and D takes out administration to B’s effect, C pays Rs. 1,000 as surety for D: then D sues C for the legacy. C cannot set-off the debt of Rs. 1,000 against the legacy, for neither C nor D fills the same character with respect to the legacy as they fill with respect to the payment of Rs. 1,000.
(b) A dies intestate and in debt to B. C takes out administration to A’s effects and B buys part of the effects from C. In a suit for the purchase-money by C against B, the latter cannot set-off the debt against the price, for C fills two different characters, one as the vendor to B, in which he sues B, and the other as representative to A.
(c) A sues B on a bill of exchange. B alleges that A has wrongfully neglected to insure B’s goods and is liable to him in compensation which he claims to set-off. The amount not being ascertained cannot be set-off.
(d) A sues B on a bill of exchange for Rs. 500. B holds a judgment against A for Rs. 1,000. The two claims being both definite, pecuniary demands may be set-off.
(e) A sues B for compensation on account of trespass. B holds a promissory note for Rs. 1,000 from A and claims to set-off that amount against any sum that A may recover in the suit. B may do so, for as soon as A recovers, both sums are definite pecuniary demands.
(f) A and B sue C for Rs. 1,000 C cannot set-off a debt due to him by A alone. (g) A sues B and C for Rs. 1000. B cannot set-off a debt due to him alone by A.
(h) A owes the partnership firm of B and C Rs. 1,000 B dies, leaving C surviving. A sues C for a debt of Rs. 1,500 due in his separate character. C may set-off the debt of Rs. 1,000.
6A. Counter-claim by defendant.
(1) A defendant in a suit may, in addition to his right of pleading a set-off under rule 6, set up, by way of counter-claim against the claim of the plaintiff, any right or claim in respect of a cause of action accruing to the defendant against the plaintiff either before or after the filing of the suit but before the defendant has delivered his defence or before the time limited for delivering his defence has expired. whether such counter-claim is in the nature of a claim for damages or not:
Provided that such counter-claim shall not exceed the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of the Court.
(2) Such counter-claim shall have the same effect as a cross-suit so as to enable the Court to pronounce a final judgment in the same suit, both on the original claim and on the counter-claim.
(3) The plaintiff shall be at liberty to file a written statement in answer to the counter-claim of the defendant within such period as may be fixed by the Court.
(4) The counter-claim shall be treated as a plaint and governed by the rules applicable to plaints.
6B. Counter-claim to be stated.
Where any defendant seeks to rely upon any ground as supporting a right of counter-claim, he shall, in his written statement, state specifically that he does so by way of counter-claim.
6C. Exclusion of counter-claim.
Where a defendant sets up a counter-claim and the plaintiff contends that the claim thereby raised ought not to be disposed of by way of counter-claim but in an independent suit, the plaintiff may, at any time before issues are settled in relation to the counter-claim, apply to the Court for an order that such counter-claim may be excluded, and the Court may, on the hearing of such application make such order as it thinks fit.
6D. Effect of discontinuance of suit.
If in any case in which the defendant sets up a counter-claim, the suit of the plaintiff is stayed, discontinued or dismissed, the counter-claim may nevertheless be proceeded with.
6E. Default of plaintiff to reply to counter-claim.
If the plaintiff makes default in putting in reply to the counter-claim made by the defendant, the Court may pronounce judgment against the plaintiff in relation to the counter-claim made against him or make such order in relation to the counter-claim as it thinks fit.
6F. Relief to defendant where counter-claim succeeds.
Where in any suit a set-off or counter-claim is established as defence against the plaintiff’s claim and any balance is found due to the plaintiff or the defendant, as the case may be, the Court may give judgment to the party entitled to such balance.
6G. Rules relating to written statement to apply.
The rules relating to a written statement by a defendant shall apply to a written statement filed in answer to a counter-claim.
7. Defence or set-off founder upon separate grounds.
Where the defendant relies upon several distinct grounds of defence or set-off or counter-claim founded separate and distinct facts, they shall be stated, as far as may be, separately and distinctly.
8. New ground of defence.
Any ground of defence which has arisen after the institution of the suit or the presentation of a written statement claiming a set-off or counter-claim may be raised by the defendant or plaintiff as the case may be, in his written statement.
8A. Duty of defendant to produce documents upon which relief is claimed by him.
(1) Where a defendant bases his defence upon a document in his possession or power, he shall produce it in Court when the written statement is presented by him and shall, at the same time, deliver the document or a copy thereof, to be filed with the written statement.
(2) A document which ought to be produced in Court by the defendant under this rule, but is not so produced, shall not, without the leave of the Court, be received in evidence on his behalf at the hearing of the suit.
(3) Nothing in this rule shall apply to documents produced,-
(a) for the cross-examination of the plaintiff’s witnesses, or
(b) in answer to any case setup by the plaintiff subsequent to the filing of the plaint, or
(c) handed over to a witness merely to refresh him memory.
9. Subsequent pleadings.
No pleading subsequent to the written statement of a defendant other than by way of defence to a set-off or counter-claim shall be presented except by the leave of the Court and upon such terms as the Court thinks fit, but the Court may at any time require a written statement or additional written statement from any of the parties and fix a time for presenting the same.
10. Procedure when party fails to present written statement called for by Court.
Where any party from whom a written statement is required under rule 1 or 9 fails to present the same within the time permitted or fixed by the Court, as the case may be, the Court shall pronounce judgment against him or make such order in relation to the suit as it thinks fit and on the pronouncement of such judgment, a decree shall be drawn up.
FOR COMMERCIAL COURTS-
Provided further that no Court shall make an order to extend the time provided under Rule 1 of this Order for filing of the written statement.