The Court observed that if the reliefs sought in the plaint cannot be granted to the plaintiff, such suit should be thrown out at the threshold.
The Court after referring to the judgment of this Court in case of T. Arivandandam vs. T. V. Satyapal and Another observed that if clever drafting has created the illusion of a cause of action, and a meaningful reading thereof would show that the pleadings are manifestly vexatious and meritless, in the sense of not disclosing a clear right to sue, then the court should exercise its power under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC.
Bench of Justice B. R. Gavai, was hearing civil appeals against the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court of Calcutta. The Division Bench had allowed the appeals of the original defendants filed against the order of the Single Judge which had rejected the applications of the defendants filed under Order 7 Rule 11 of CPC.
Before the Single Bench of High Court Calcutta:
The appellants had filed a civil suit before the High Court of Calcutta in which the appellants had prayed for the following reliefs:
- Prayer for declaration that the plaintiffs and the defendants are entitled to the assets and properties of the said firm as the legal heirs of the original partners.
- Prayer for declaration that the plaintiffs along with the defendants are entitled to represent the firm in all proceedings before the concerned authorities of the State of Bihar for the acquisition of its Bhagalpur land.
- Prayer for decree of dissolution and for winding up of the affairs of the firm.
In the said suit the defendants had filed two applications seeking the dismissal of the suit on the ground that the plaint does not disclose any cause of action and the relief claimed in the plaint could not be granted. It was also urged that the suit was filed beyond the period of limitation making it liable to be rejected. The Single Judge dismissed both the applications by observing that the limitation is a mixed question of fact and law and hence the suit cannot be dismissed on that ground.
Before the Division Bench of High Court of Calcutta:
The defendants moved to the Division Bench of the High Court in appeal. The DB allowed the appeal and rejected the suit after observing that the reliefs claimed in the plaint could not be granted. Being aggrieved thereby, the plaintiff filed the present appeal.
Before the Supreme Court:
In appeal, the Supreme Court observed that the power conferred on the court to terminate a civil action is a drastic one and the conditions enumerated under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC are required to be strictly adhered to.
The Court after referring to the judgment of this Court in T. Arivandandam vs. T. V. Satyapal and Another observed that
“15. It could thus be seen that this Court has held that reading of the averments made in the plaint should not only be formal but also meaningful. It has been held that if clever drafting has created the illusion of a cause of action, and a meaningful reading thereof would show that the pleadings are manifestly vexatious and meritless, in the sense of not disclosing a clear right to sue, then the court should exercise its power under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC. It has been held that such a suit has to be nipped in the bud at the first hearing itself.
The Court said that under Order VII Rule 11 of CPC, the duty is cast upon the court to determine whether the plaint discloses a cause of action, by scrutinizing the averments in the plaint, read in conjunction with the documents relied upon, or whether the suit is barred by any law.
The Court further observed that the object of Order VII Rule 11 of CPC is that when a plaint does not disclose a cause of action, the court would not permit the plaintiff to unnecessarily protract the proceedings.
The Court while dismissing the appeals held that the reliefs as sought in the plaint cannot be granted.
Coram: Justice B. R. Gavai
Mr. Gopal Jain, Sr. Counsel appeared for the appellants.
Dr. A.M. Singhvi, Mr. K. V. Vishwanathan and Mr. Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Sr. Counsels appeared for the respondents.