“Sufficient Cause”: When Defendant sincerely intended to remain present when suit was called on for hearing

In an application filed under Order IX Rule 13, it was opined that sufficient cause is when Defendant has bona fide intention to be present before Court when called upon to do so. This was held by the Hon’ble High Court at New Delhi in the matter of M/S. Rana Chairs v. Director General (Town Planning) Kolkatta Municipal Corp. & Anr., CS(OS) No. 1090 of 2013, on 5th October, 2018.


The Defendant/Applicant filed an application under Order IX Rule 13 of Code of Civil Procedure for setting aside of ex-parte decree dated 17.09.2015. The Applicant had received summons in the suit by the Plaintiff, however, the law department of the Applicant was advised by their then advocate that there was no merit in the suit of the Plaintiff and the same will be dismissed by the Hon’ble Court due to lack of jurisdiction. As a result, the Applicant did not enter appearance in the suit. That on 14.03.2017, the Applicant received notice for execution petition of the suit. Therefore, the present application was filed for setting aside of ex-parte order dated 17.09.2015 on the ground that the Applicant was prevented by the above-mentioned sufficient cause from appearing in the said suit. It was for the Appellate Court to decide whether the Applicant was prevented from appearing in the suit by sufficient cause.


The Hon’ble Court held that sufficient cause, within the ambit of Order IX Rule 13, means that the party had not acted in a negligent manner or that there was a want of bona fide on its part in view of the facts and circumstances of a case. It is only in such a case that the party cannot be alleged to have been “not acting diligently” or “remaining inactive”. The judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Parimal v. Veena Alias Bharti, (2011) 3 SCC 545, was reiterated. The Apex Court had held that the test of “sufficient cause” under Order IX Rule 13 is whether the defendant honestly and sincerely intended to remain present when the suit was called on for hearing and did his best to do so. In the present case, since the Applicant had knowledge of the Plaintiff’s suit and willingly chose not to participate in the court proceeding assuming that the suit would be dismissed, therefore, the Applicant/Defendant failed to show sufficient cause. Hence, the application of the Defendant was dismissed.