Filing a Strong Written Submission in a Civil Case: Lawyers Advice
Before approaching the Court, the plaintiff shall send a notice to the defendant asking the defendant to provide the relief he legally owes to the plaintiff. If the defendant does not respond or fulfil the legal obligation provided in the notice, the plaintiff shall proceed to the next step which is filing the plaint. The plaintiff mentions the cause of action and submits it before the Honourable Court which accepts the plaint if it deems fit and then serves summons to the defendant. The defendant shall respond to the plaint with a written statement within thirty days from the date of the summons which can be extended to ninety days in case the Court accepts the reason for delay stated by the defendant.
Meaning of a Written Statement in a Civil Case or a Civil Law Suit
The written statement is the pleading made by the defendant as provided under Order VIII Rule I of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. It is a medium for the defendant to deny all the facts mentioned by the plaintiff in the plaint. There is a proper way in which the defendant is expected to submit the written statement failing which the entire purpose gets destroyed.
Although Rule 1 uses ‘shall’ it does not give the Court the power to deny a written statement which is submitted after the extension period of ninety days. A Court can still accept the written statement with a proper reason for delay. However, it is encouraged to follow the period to save valuable time of the Court and the parties. The written statement has to be filed in the following manner:
• After mentioning the name of the Court and its location, the defendant has to mention the name of the parties.
• Under the subject, the defendant has to discuss the facts mentioned by the plaintiff in the plaint. All the facts have to be addressed and denied by the defendant failing which, it will be considered ‘admitted’ before the Court of law as per section 58 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Order 8 Rule 5.
• Every fact has to be expressly denied by the defendant stating an appropriate reason for the same. Each fact has to be addressed clearly and has to be done para wise which is properly numbered. Denial has to be specific as mentioned under Order 8 Rule 3.
• Also, the denial should not be evasive meaning if he is denying that he has received a certain amount of money, it is important to deny that he received a small part of that amount or mention if he receives any. This is directory as per Order 8 Rule 4.
• Any sum (amount) used in the written statement, has to be mentioned in words. The appropriate dates have to be mentioned accurately.
• Next is the cause of action mentioned in the plaint. The defendant has to deny each of this with specific reasons. The defendant can make a list of documents that are in his favour and are mentioned in the written statement. The documents are supposed to be presented before the Court of law.
• If the defendant wishes to go for a set-off he can mention the particulars of the set off in the same written statement itself. It will thereby be considered as a plant in a cross-suit. This is as per Order 8 Rule 6.
• Similarly, the defendant can go for a counterclaim as per Order 8 Rule 6A.
• If the defendant wants to state a new ground of defence after the suit has been instituted or the written statement has been submitted, he may do so under Order 8 Rule 8.
• After this, there are legal paragraphs in the written statement which need not be responded to. The defendant can mention the same adjacent to these legal paragraphs.
• Then the defendant has to mention the prayer stating reasons asking the Honourable Court to dismiss the plaint.
• If the suit has co-defendants, every defendant is required to sign the written statement.
• The Honourable Court has the power to pronounce judgment or any other order that is related to the suit if the defendant fails to file a written statement. This is mentioned under Order 8 Rule 10.
Case Laws & Precedents:
In the case of Man Kaur v Hartar Singh Sangha [(2010) 10 SCC 512], a plea mentioned by the plaintiff in the plaint was not addressed by the defendant in the written statement. Which indicates that the fact was admitted by the defendant and any fact which is already admitted need not be separately proved with evidence as per section 58 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. In Abdul Sattar v Union of India [AIR 1970 SC 479], the new grounds of defence mentioned by the defendant in the written statement was allowed by the Honourable Court. In SCG Contracts India Private Limited v K.S. Chamankar Infrastructure Private Limited and Ors. [AIR 2019 SC 2691], the Honourable Supreme Court has held that it cannot extend time beyond 120 days (thirty + ninety days) for filing a written statement. The Court has rejected a written statement filed beyond 120 days. The defendant loses the right to file a written statement beyond this time and it cannot be accepted or taken in the record later on.
Under Order 6 Rule 17, no written statement can be amended after the commencement of the trial. The proviso states that this amendment can be accepted if the defendant can prove that those contentions could not be brought in before the commencement of the trial despite being diligent. In the case of Naresh Kumar v. Meer Singh [2020 SCC Del 398], the Hon’ble Delhi High Court has held that a written statement mandatorily has to be filed before the expiry of the 120 days (30 days + 90 days). If the defendant fails to file within this period, the Court will reject the written statement submitted beyond these 120 days and refuse to admit in the Court of law.
The written statement is a chance given to the defendant to deny any incriminating facts made in the plaint against him. If the written statement is weak, the plaintiff can use this against the defendant in the Court of law and result can mean paying a huge amount of damages. That is why the defendant needs to cross-check if he has denied every allegation and has filed it within the time. The defendant should also make use of the set-off and counterclaim options so that the multiplicity of proceedings can be avoided.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Sriya Sindhoor