Function and Object of Pleadings
The object of pleadings is to assist the court and the parties to the dispute in its adjudication. Stable. J., in Pinson v. Lloyds Bank Ltd., (1941) 2 K.B. 72, has expressed the function of pleading in the following words:
“The function of a pleading is not simply for the benefit of the parties and perhaps primarily for the assistance of a Court by defining with precision the area beyond which without the leave of the court, and consequential amendment of pleading, conflict must not be allowed to extend.”
The object of pleading is to give a fair notice to each party of what the opponent’s case is to; ascertain with precision, the points on which the parties agree and those on which they differ and thus to bring the parties to a definite issue. The purpose of pleading is also eradicating irrelevancy. The parties, thus themselves know what are the matters left in dispute and what facts they have to prove at the trial. They are saved from the expense and trouble of calling evidence which may prove unnecessary in view of the admission of the opposite party. And further, by knowing before hand, what point the opposite party raise at the trial they are prepared to meet them and are not taken by surprise.
Truly speaking the object of the pleading is to narrow down the controversy of the parties to definite issue. The sole object of pleadings is that each side may be fully active to the question that are about to be argued in order that they may have an opportunity of bringing forward such evidence as may be appropriate to the issues. The court has no power to disregard the pleading and reach conclusions that they think are just and proper.
A select committee of eminent lawyers having knowledge of Indian conditions was appointed to frame the present Code of Civil Procedure which has been amended and redrafted in 1976. Order 6, 7 and 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure are very important from the point of view of drafting of pleadings. Appendix A to the Code of Civil Procedure contains some model form of pleadings which are useful.
The pleading should always be drawn up and conducted in such manner so as to evolve some clear and definite issues i.e., some definite propositions of law and/or fact, asserted by one party and denied by the other. But both the parties must agree on the points sought to be adjudicated upon in action. When this has been fairy and properly ascertained then following advantages flow from pleadings:
- It is for the benefit of the parties to know exactly what are the matters left in dispute. They may discover that they are fighting about nothing at all; e.g. when a plaintiff in an action of libel finds that the defendant does not assert that the words are true, he is often willing to accept an apology and costs, and so put an end to the action.
- It is also a boon to the parties to know precisely what facts they must prove at the trial; otherwise, they may go through great trouble and expense in procuring evidence of facts which their opponent does not dispute. On the other hand, if they assume that their opponent will not raise such and such a point, they may be taken suddenly by surprise at the trial.
- Moreover, it is necessary to ascertain the nature of the controversy in order to determine the most appropriate mode of trial. It may turn out to be a pure point of law, which should be decided by judge.
- It is desirable to place on record the precise question raised in the action so that the parties or their successor may not fight the same battle over and again.