Rejection of Plaint under the CPC

Purpose of rejection of plaint

The object of rejection of plaint is to weed out frivolous, vexatious and improper plaints at the very outset.

The rejection of a plaint in the initial stage itself will save valuable judicial time and resources. It will ensure that a litigation, which is meaningless and bound to prove abortive is not permitted to occupy the time of the courts.

Its sole objective is to put an end to any ill motivated sham litigations.

Institution & registration of a plaint

The institution of a suit is by presentation of plaint to the registry in the manner prescribed by law in Order 6 and 7 of the Civil Procedures Code (CPC). A plaint shall not be duly instituted, unless it complies with the requirements specified in Order 6 and 7 of the CPC, as stated in its Order 4 Rule (1).

If the rules are not complied with the registry can return the plaint to the party presenting it. But that can be done only once.

The court shall ensure that the registry shall enter the particulars of every suit in a Register of Civil Suits and number them in every year in a serial order, when the plaint is admitted.

Grounds for rejecting a plaint

A plaint presented to a civil court, in order to institute a suit, will be rejected on the following grounds:

Where it does not disclose cause of action

If the plaint does not disclose cause of action the court will reject it.

The cause of action is a bundle of facts which must include some act done by the defendant. In the absence of such an act there would not be any cause of action. The cause of action must be set out in clear terms (Church of Christ charitable Trust and Educational Charitable Society v Ponniamma Educational Trust : AIR 2012 SC 3912).

To reject the plaint on this ground on non-disclosure of cause of action, the court must look at the plaint and nothing else. If all the allegations set out in the plaint would not entitle the plaintiff any relief, then it should be rejected without issuing summons to the defendants. The Court, however, has to consider and read the averments in the plaint as a whole, without any addition or subtraction.

The averments in the plaint alone are relevant and material in determining whether the plaint discloses the cause of action or not.

Where relief claimed is undervalued

The plaint will be rejected if the relief claimed by the plaintiff is undervalued and the undervaluation is not corrected within the time fixed by the court. The court can grant extra time to correct the error of under-valuation and has power to further grant extra time in exceptional situations.

For examining under valuation, the court must look at the plaint itself but not any other circumstances.

The valuation of the suit is directly linked with the jurisdiction of the court and hence it should be decided as preliminary issue.

Where plaint is insufficiently stamped

If the plaint is written on a paper insufficiently stamped and the plaintiff failed to pay the requisite court fee within the time fixed by the court, the plaint will be rejected.

If the party pay the court fee within the time the plaint or appeal will be treated as instituted from the date of presentation for the purpose of limitation.

An indigent person can continue the suit if the court approves his as an indigent person on his application.

Where suit is barred by law

If the suit, as the plaint itself shows, is barred by law, the court will reject it. If any waiver is pleaded, the court will give the plaintiff an opportunity to establish it.

However, if the question of limitation is connected with the merit of the case, it will be decided along with other issues.

If the plaint is not in duplicate

If the plaint is not in duplicate the plaint will be rejected.

Similarly, if the plaintiff fails to serve summons on the defendants under order 5 Rule Order 9, with as many copies of the plaint as there are defendants along with requisite fee for service of summons, within seven days from the date of such order, the plaint can be rejected.

Other relevant grounds for rejection

The grounds enlisted under Order 7 Rule 11 are not exhaustive. Therefore, the plaint can be rejected on other relevant issues not enlisted therein, as well.

For example, if the plaint is signed by a person not authorised by the plaintiff and the defect is not cured within the time granted by the court, the plaint can be rejected.

Similarly, if the plaint is vexatious, meritless or without disclosing a clear right to sue, the court shall reject the plaint.  Rejection of a plaint on grounds specified in the law is not a discretionary matter, but a mandatory one. That means if the plaint attracts any of the clauses under Order 7 Rule 11, the court is bound to reject it

Where the bar of limitation is clearly and indisputably ascertainable from the averments of plaint, the plaint can be rejected as being a time barred one.

When rejected the judge will record reason

When a plaint is rejected, the judge will pass an order and will record reasons for such rejection.

Rejection of plaint will not preclude from presenting fresh suit

The rejection of a suit will not preclude the plaintiff from presenting a fresh suit in respect of the same cause of action. That means the bar under res judicata under Section 12 of the CPC will not apply to a plaint when filed afresh on the basis of its rejection earlier.

An order of rejecting a plaint is treated as a decree and hence such an order is appealable.

Can an amendment be allowed to avoid rejection?

Whether court can allow a party to amend the plaint under Order VI Rule 17, so that the plaintiff can escape rejection has not been a well settled issue. There are conflicting judgments from High Courts on this question.

The Supreme Court (SC) in Sayyed Ayaz Ali v Prakash G. Goyal has observed that no order to amendment of plaint can be made when the plaint is otherwise liable to be rejected under Order 7 Rule 11(d) of the CPC. The SC states that court under Order 7 Rule 11 cannot grant the liberty to amend the plaint while rejecting it.