ORDER XVIII of CIVIL PROCEDURE CODE (CPC) – HEARING OF THE SUIT AND EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES
1. Right to begin.
The plaintiff has the right to begin unless the defendant admits the facts alleged by the plaintiff and contends that either in point of law or on some additional facts alleged by the defendant the plaintiff is not entitled to any part of the relief which he seeks, in which case the defendant has the right to begin.
2. Statement and production of evidence.
(1) On the day fixed for the hearing of the suit or on any other day to which the hearing is adjourned, the party having the right to begin shall state his case and produce his evidence in support of the issues which he is bound to prove.
(2) The other party shall then state his case and produce his evidence (if any) and may then address the Court generally on the whole case.
(3) The party beginning may then reply generally on the whole case.
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in this rule, the Court may, for reasons to be recorded, direct or permit any party to examine any witness at any stage.
3. Evidence where several issues.
Where there are several issues, the burden of proving some of which lies on the party, the party beginning may, at his option, either produce his evidence on those issues or reserve it by way of answer to the evidence produced by the other party; and, in the latter case, the party beginning may produce evidence on those issues after the other party has produced all his evidence, and the other party may then reply specially on the evidence so produced by the party beginning; but the party beginning will then be entitled to reply generally on the whole case.
3A. Party to appear before other witnesses.
Where a party himself wishes to appear as a witness, he shall so appear before any other witness on his behalf has been examined, unless the Court, for reasons to be recorded permits him to appear as his own witness at a later stage.
4. Recording of evidence by Commissioner.
(1) In every case, the evidence of a witness of his examination-in-chief shall be given by affidavit and copies thereof shall be supplied to the opposite party by the party who calls him for evidence.
(2) The evidence (cross-examination and re-examination) of the witness in attendance, whose evidence (examination-in-chief) by affidavit has been furnished to the court shall be taken orally by a Commissioner to be appointed by the court from amongst the panel of Commissioners prepared for this purpose on the same day:
Provided that, in the interest of justice and for reasons to be recorded in writing, the court may direct that the evidence of any witness shall be recorded by the court in the presence and under the personal direction and superintendence of the judge.
(3) The Commissioner shall be paid such sum for recording of evidence as may be prescribed by the High Court.
(4) The amount payable to the Commissioner under sub-rule (3) shall be paid by the Court or by the parties summoning the witness as may be prescribed by the High Court.
(5) The District Judge shall prepare a panel of Commissioners to record the evidence under this rule.
(6) The Commissioner shall record evidence either in writing or mechanically in his presence and shall make a memorandum which shall be signed by him and the witnesses and submit the same to the court appointing such Commissioner.
(7) Where any question put to a witness is objected by a party or his pleader and the Commissioner allows the same to be put, the Commissioner shall take down the question together with his decision.
5. How evidence shall be taken in appealable cases.
In cases in which an appeal is allowed, the evidence of each witness shall be-
(a) taken down in the language of the Court,-
(i) in writing by, or in the presence and under the personal direction and superintendence of, the Judge, or
(ii) from the dictation of the Judge directly on a typewriter, or
(b) if the Judge, for reasons to be recorded, so directs, recorded mechanically in the language of the Court in the presence of the Judge.
6. When deposition to be interpreted.
Where the evidence is taken down in language different from that in which it is given, and the witness does not understand the language in which it is taken down, the evidence as taken down in writing shall be interpreted to him in the language in which it is given.
7. Evidence under Section 138.
Evidence taken down under section 138 shall be in the form prescribed by rule 5 and shall be read over and signed and, as occasion may require, interpreted and corrected as if it were evidence taken down under that rule.
8. Memorandum when evidence not taken down by Judge.
Where the evidence is not taken down in writing by the Judge, or from his dictation in the open Court, or recorded mechanically in his presence, he shall be bound, as the examination of each witness proceeds, to make a memorandum of the substance of what each witness deposes, and such memorandum shall be written and signed by the Judge and shall form part of the record.
9. When evidence may be taken in English.
(1) Where English is not the language of the Court, but all the parties to the suit who appear in person, and the pleaders of such of the parties as appear by pleaders, do not object to having such evidence as is given in English, being taken down in English, the Judge may so take it down or cause it to be taken down.
(2) Where evidence is not given in English but all the parties who appear in person, and the pleaders of such of the parties as appear by pleaders, do not object to having such evidence being taken down in English, the Judge may take down, or cause to be taken down, such evidence in English.
10. Any particular question and answer may be taken down.
The Court may, of its own motion or on the application of any party or his pleader, take down any particular question and answer, or any objection to any question, if there appears to be any special reason for so doing.
11. Questions objected to and allowed by Court.
Where any question put to a witness is objected to by a party or his pleader, and the Court allows the same to be put, the Judge shall take down the question, the answer, the objection and the name of the person making it, together with the decision of the Court thereon.
12. Remarks on demeanour of witnesses.
The Court may record such remarks as it thinks material respecting the demeanour of any witness while under examination.
13. Memorandum of evidence in unappealable cases.
In cases in which an appeal is not allowed, it shall not be necessary to take down or dictate or record the evidence of the witnesses at length; but the Judge, as the examination of each witness proceeds, shall make in writing, or dictate directly on the typewriter, or cause to be mechanically recorded, a memorandum of the substance of what the witness deposes, and such memorandum shall be signed by the Judge or otherwise authenticated, and shall form part of the record.
14. [Judge unable to make such memorandum to record reasons of his liability.]
Rep. by the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1976 (104 of 1976), s. 69 (w.e.f. 1-2-1977)
15. Power to deal with evidence taken before another Judge.
(1) Where a Judge is prevented by death, transfer or other cause from concluding the trial of a suit, his successor may deal with any evidence or memorandum taken down or made under the foregoing rules as if such evidence or memorandum had been taken down or made by him or under his direction under the said rules and may proceed with the suit from the stage at which his predecessor left it.
(2) The provisions of sub-rule (1) shall, so far as they are applicable, be deemed to apply to evidence taken in a suit transferred under section 24.
16. Power to examine witness immediately.
(1) Where a witness is about to leave the jurisdiction of the Court, or other sufficient cause is shown to the satisfaction of the Court why his evidence should be taken immediately, the Court may upon the application of any party or of the witness, at any time after the institution of the suit, take the evidence of such witness in manner herein before provided.
(2) Where such evidence is not taken forthwith and in the presence of the parties, such notice as the Court thinks sufficient, of the day fixed for the examination, shall be given to the parties.
(3) The evidence so taken shall be read over to the witness, and if he admits it to be correct, shall be signed by him, and the Judge shall, if necessary, correct the same, and shall sign it, and it may then be read at any hearing of the suit.
17. Court may recall and examine witness.
The Court may at any stage of a suit recall any witness who has been examined and may (subject to the law of evidence for the time being in force) put such questions to him as the Court thinks fit.
17A. Production of evidence not previously known or which could not be produced despite due diligence.
Where a party satisfies the Court that after the exercise of due diligence, any evidence was not within his knowledge or could not be produced by him at the time when that party was leading his evidence, the Court may permit that party to produce that evidence at a later stage on such terms as may appear to it to be just.
18. Power of Court to inspect.
The Court may at any stage of a suit inspect any property or thing concerning which any question may arise and where the Court inspects any property or thing it shall, as soon as may be practicable, make a memorandum of any relevant facts observed at such inspection and such memorandum shall form a part of the record of the suit.
19. Power to get statements recorded on commission.
Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, the court may, instead of examining witnesses in open court, direct their statements to be recorded on commission under rule 4A of Order XXVI.
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