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Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. Vs. Capt. Jogendranath Chopra - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1984)2GLR1091
AppellantIndian Oil Corporation Ltd.
RespondentCapt. Jogendranath Chopra
Excerpt:
- - it may be that a party to a suit may, for good reason or otherwise, fail to plead his case in the manner he ought to have pleaded; these are principles well settled by this time and courts have, therefore, to be guided by these principles. he cannot plead that he has a case to present to a court which he originally failed to present and despite repeated opportunities, he again failed to do so, but now he has become wiser and so he may be permitted to do so. here again, one has to differentiate between parties who are unable to exercise their right for want of proper legal advice, particularly because of their economic disability, and parties who are in a position to get the best of advice from the best of counsel......casually, takes his own time to move amendments, seeks to improve his motions for amendment from time to time and irrespective of the consequences caused to the other party, treats motions for amendments as matters of course, he will not be entitled to any indulgence from a court. he cannot plead that he has a case to present to a court which he originally failed to present and despite repeated opportunities, he again failed to do so, but now he has become wiser and so he may be permitted to do so. such a plea should not succeed unless there are weighty reasons, backing his explanation for the default on the previous occasions. here again, one has to differentiate between parties who are unable to exercise their right for want of proper legal advice, particularly because of their.....
Judgment:

P.S. Poti, C.J.

1. As a rule, Courts must be liberal in allowing amendment of pleadings, being not too technical in their approach in the grant of amendments. It may be that a party to a suit may, for good reason or otherwise, fail to plead his case in the manner he ought to have pleaded; but, in the normal course, that should not lead the party to the loss of his case as it would be penalising him for his ignorance and that would involve an element of travesty of justice. In fairness, therefore, a Court should show concern in allowing amendment of the plaint or the written statement if the amendment as sought is for the purpose of determining the real controversy between the parties. But, where the Court feels that an amendment is sought at a late stage of a suit, not with the purpose of highlighting the issues between the parties, but in an attempt to protract the trial of the suit, the Court should certainly discourage such attempt for no Court should permit its process to be abused. Therefore, except in cases where the Court is convinced that a litigant is cantankerous and it evidences obnoxious conduct on his part in seeking the amendment, the normal rule should be, grant and not refusal. Sometimes this will cause hardship to the opposite party and if such hardship is irreparable, that again would be a consideration which should go seriously into the matter of permitting amendment. But, inconvenience, quite often, could be compensated by costs perhaps heavy costs. These are principles well settled by this time and Courts have, therefore, to be guided by these principles.

2. In a case where a party takes his pleadings casually, takes his own time to move amendments, seeks to improve his motions for amendment from time to time and irrespective of the consequences caused to the other party, treats motions for amendments as matters of course, he will not be entitled to any indulgence from a Court. He cannot plead that he has a case to present to a Court which he originally failed to present and despite repeated opportunities, he again failed to do so, but now he has become wiser and so he may be permitted to do so. Such a plea should not succeed unless there are weighty reasons, backing his explanation for the default on the previous occasions. Here again, one has to differentiate between parties who are unable to exercise their right for want of proper legal advice, particularly because of their economic disability, and parties who are in a position to get the best of advice from the best of counsel.

3. In the case before me, the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., the plaintiff in the suit is the revision petitioner. The respondent is a distributor for Indane gas for certain areas ia Ahmedabad. The appointment of the respondent was terminated on 3rd March 1975. Thereupon the suit was filed by the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. for certain reliefs amongst which recovery of the gas cylinders or the price thereof was not one of the reliefs. Later, in 1975, an amendment was brought seeking that a decree should be granted for recovery of 451 gas cylinders and certain other articles and, in the alternative, for the value of those estimated at Rs. 79,685/-. This amendment brought in 1975 was allowed by an order dated 30-8-1976 and additional Court-fee was permitted to be paid. It is also seen that the defendant surrendered the 451 gas cylinders, with the result that the said claim is seen to have become settled. Later, in 1980, another application is seen to have been made for amending the plaint stating that, on going through the records, it is seen that about 300 more cylinders had to be accounted for and as a result, amendment had to be made, not only in the number of cylinders sought to be recovered, but in the price thereof, which, in place of Rs. 79,685/- indicated earlier, was mentioned as Rs. 3,43,377/-. There is no explanation as to how such value increase was justified. Earlier the claim made indicated a price of Rs. 200/- per cylinder and at that rate the claim made in the amendment sought would be too excessive and there was no explanation.

4. The more important point is that this amendment application indicated that information leading to this amendment was available with the plaintiff even in 1975. If so, there is no reason why amendment should be sought five years later. Whatever that be, when the matter came up for hearing, the counsel withdrew the application for amendment on 15-2-1980. Fresh application for amendment was filed on 22-2-1980. This time, further alteration was made in the claim of the number of cylinders to be received. In place of addition of 300 cylinders to the 451 originally mentioned, the total number of cylinders sought to be recovered by the amendment was 978. There is no explanation as to how this number was justified excepting the vague statement that the claim is based on the records looked into, again in 1975. Taking all these circumstances into consideration and by a very elaborate and reasoned order, the learned trial Judge found that, in the circumstances of the case, there was no reason to permit amendment. There was no question of the Court taking the view that no amendment should be granted normally and in the usual course; but having weighed carefully all relevant factors, which had a bearing on the question of the goodfaith of the party, the Court felt that the plaintiffs motion was not to be allowed. The learned trial Judge has exercised his discretion, and, according to me, quite soundly, and, if there is a case for noninterference, certainly, this is the one, as I find no error of jurisdiction involved.

Dismissed with costs. Rule discharged. Interim order vacated.


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