The Supreme Court held that amendment in pleadings under Order VI Rule 17 could be allowed even after commencement of trial if no prejudice is caused to the other party.
The said judgment was passed by the Supreme Court in the matter of Mohinder Kumar Mehra vs. Roop Rani Mehra, Civil Appeal No.19977 of 2017 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 26695/2017), decided on 11.12.2017. The said appeal was filed against a judgment of Delhi High Court dated whereby a Petition under Article 227 filed by the appellant challenging the order of ADJ dismissing the application of the plaintiff under Order VI Rule 17 of the C.P.C., was dismissed.
Written statement was filed and the issues were framed by the Court in a suit for partition. Consequently the date for recording the evidence of the plaintiff was fixed. Thereafter the plaintiff filed an application under Order VI Rule 17 praying for amendment of the plaint seeking to add certain pleadings and a prayer claiming share in the sale proceeds received by defendant No.1 from sale of the property in Nizamuddin, not mentioned in the suit at all. The Additional District Judge dismissed the application as being barred by time.
It was contended by the Respondents that amendment application filed by the appellant could not have been allowed in view of Proviso to Order VI Rule 17 C.P.C. It is submitted that trial in the suit has already commenced and plaintiff failed to show that in spite of due diligence, he could not raise the matter earlier, hence the trial court has rightly rejected the amendment application. Furthermore, by allowing the amendment, the very nature of the suit shall be changed, causing great prejudice to respondent No.1.
A pertinent fact must be stated that the lower Court recorded the statement of plaintiff’s counsel that parties have led evidence in view of the amendment sought in the plaint.
The Court observed that the trial can be said to have commenced after issues are framed and case is fixed for hearing and the party having right to begin is ordered to produce his evidence. Thus, in the facts of the case at hand, the Court held the trial to have technically commenced when the date was fixed for leading evidence by the plaintiff but actually the amendment application was filed before the evidence was led by the plaintiff. It was reiterated by the Court that the Proviso to Order VI Rule 17 prohibited entertainment of amendment application after commencement of the trial with the object and purpose that once parties proceed with the leading of evidence, no new pleading be permitted to be introduced. The present case was where the amendment application was filed before the parties started leading of evidence. However, in the present case, the parties led evidence even on the amended pleadings. Therefore, it was held that the defendant in no manner can be said to be prejudiced by the amendments since plaintiff led his evidence on amended pleadings also.
Allowing the application, the Court looked into the object and purpose by which limitation was put on permitting amendment of the pleadings and held no prejudice can be said to have caused to the defendant since the evidence was led subsequent to the filing of the amendment application. In order to avoid any prejudice to the parties, the Court granted a limited opportunity to the parties to lead additional evidence.