ORDER III – Recognised Agents and Pleaders

Rule 1: Appearances, etc., may be in person, by recognised agent or by pleader.—

Any appearance, application or act in or to any Court, required or authorised by law to be made or done by a party in such Court, may, except where otherwise expressly provided by any law for the time being in force, be made or done by the party in person, or by his recognised agent, or by a pleader appearing, applying or acting, as the case may be, on his behalf:

Provided that any such appearance shall, if the Court so directs, be made by the party in person.

Rule 2: Recognised agents.—The recognised agents of parties by whom such appearances, applications and acts may be made or done are—

(a) persons holding powers-of-attorney, authorising them to make and do such appearances, applications and acts on behalf of such parties;

(b) persons carrying on trade or business for and in the names of parties not resident within the local limits of the jurisdiction of the Court within which limits the appearance, application or act is made or done, in matters connected with such trade or business only, where no other agent is expressly authorised to make and do such appearances, applications and acts.

Rule 3: Service of process on recognised agents.—

(1) Process served on the recognised agent of a party shall be as effectual as if the same had been served on the party in person, unless the Court otherwise directs.

(2) The provisions for the service of process on a party to a suit shall apply to the service of process on his recognised agent

Rule 4: Appointment of pleader.—

(1) No pleader shall act for any person in any Court, unless he has been appointed for the purpose by such person by a document in writing signed by such person or by his recognised agent or by some other person duly authorised by or under a power-of-attorney to make such appointment.

(2) Every such appointment shall be filed in Court and shall, for the purposes of sub-rule (1), be deemed to be in force until determined with the leave of the Court by a writing signed by the client or the pleader, as the case may be, and filed in Court, or until the client or the pleader dies, or until all proceedings in the suit are ended so far as regards the client.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this sub-rule, the following shall be deemed to be proceedings in the suit,—

(a) an application for the review of decree or order in the suit,

(b) an application under Section 144 or under Section 152 of this Code, in relation to any decree or order made in the suit,

(c) an appeal from any decree or order in the suit, and

(d) any application or act for the purpose of obtaining copies of documents or return of documents produced or filed in the suit or of obtaining refund of moneys paid into the Court in connection with the suit.

(3) Nothing in sub-rule (2) shall be construed—

(a) as extending, as between the pleader and his client, the duration for which the pleader is engaged, or

(b) as authorising service on the pleader of any notice or document issued by any Court other than the Court for which the pleader was engaged, except where such service was expressly agreed to by the client in the document referred to in sub-rule (1).

(4) The High Court may, by general order, direct that, where the person by whom a pleader is appointed is unable to write his name, his mark upon the document appointing the pleader shall be attested by such person and in such manner as may be specified by the order.

(5) No pleader who has been engaged for the purpose of pleading only shall plead on behalf of any party, unless he has filed in Court a memorandum of appearance signed by himself and stating—

(a) the names of the parties to the suit,

(b) the name of the party for whom he appears, and

(c) the name of the person by whom he is authorised to appear:

Provided that nothing in this sub-rule shall apply to any pleader engaged to plead on behalf of any party by any other pleader who has been duly appointed to act in Court on behalf of such party.

Rule 5: Service of process on pleader.—

Any process served on the pleader who has been duly appointed to act in Court for any party or left at the office or ordinary residence of such pleader, and whether the same is for the personal appearance of the party or not, shall be presumed to be duly communicated and made known to the party whom the pleader represents, and, unless the Court otherwise directs, shall be as effectual for all purposes as if the same had been given to or served on the party in person.

Rule 6: Agent to accept service.—

(1) Besides the recognised agents described in Rule 2 any person residing within the jurisdiction of the Court may be appointed an agent to accept service of process.

(2) Appointment to be in writing and to be filed in Court.—Such appointment may be special or general and shall be made by an instrument in writing signed by the principal, and such instrument or, if the appointment is general, a certified copy thereof shall be filed in Court.

(3) The Court may, at any stage of the suit, order any party to the suit not having a recognised agent residing within the jurisdiction of the Court, or a pleader who has been duly appointed to act in the Court on his behalf, to appoint, within a specified time, an agent residing within the jurisdiction of the Court to accept service of the process on his behalf.


1. Rights and Limitation of ‘power-of-attorney’ holder

Janki Vashdeo Bhojwani v. Indusind Bank Ltd., (2005) 2 SCC 217: “Order 3 Rules 1 and 2 CPC empower the holder of power of attorney to “act” on behalf of the principal. In our view the word “acts” employed in Order 3 Rules 1 and 2 CPC confines only to in respect of “acts” done by the power-of-attorney holder in exercise of power granted by the instrument. The term “acts” would not include deposing in place and instead of the principal. In other words, if the power-of-attorney holder has rendered some “acts” in pursuance of power of attorney, he may depose for the principal in respect of such acts, but he cannot depose for the principal for the acts done by the principal and not by him. Similarly, he cannot depose for the principal in respect of the matter of which only the principal can have a personal knowledge and in respect of which the principal is entitled to be cross-examined.”

2. Vakalatnama

Uday Shankar Triyar v. Ram Kalewar Prasad Singh, (2006) 1 SCC 75: “Vakalatnama, a species of power of attorney, is an important document, which enables and authorises the pleader appearing for a litigant to do several acts as an agent, which are binding on the litigant who is the principal. It is a document which creates the special relationship between the lawyer and the client. It regulates and governs the extent of delegation of authority to the pleader and the terms and conditions governing such delegation. It should, therefore, be properly filled/attested/accepted with care and caution. Obtaining the signature of the litigant on blank vakalatnamas and filling them subsequently should be avoided. We may take judicial notice of the following defects routinely found in vakalatnamas filed in courts:

(a) Failure to mention the name(s) of the person(s) executing the vakalatnama and leaving the relevant column blank.

(b) Failure to disclose the name, designation or authority of the person executing the vakalatnama on behalf of the grantor (where the vakalatnama is signed on behalf of a company, society or body) by either affixing a seal or by mentioning the name and designation below the signature of the executant (and failure to annex a copy of such authority with the vakalatnama).

(c) Failure on the part of the pleader in whose favour the vakalatnama is executed, to sign it in token of its acceptance.

(d) Failure to identify the person executing the vakalatnama or failure to certify that the pleader has satisfied himself about the due execution of the vakalatnama.

(e) Failure to mention the address of the pleader for purpose of service (in particular in cases of outstation counsel).

(f) Where the vakalatnama is executed by someone for self and on behalf of someone else, failure to mention the fact that it is being so executed. For example, when a father and the minor children are parties, invariably there is a single signature of the father alone in the vakalatnama without any endorsement/statement that the signature is for “self and as guardian of his minor children”. Similarly, where a firm and its partner, or a company and its director, or a trust and its trustee, or an organisation and its office-bearer, execute a vakalatnama, invariably there will be only one signature without even an endorsement that the signature is both in his/her personal capacity and as the person authorised to sign on behalf of the corporate body/ firm/ society/ organisation.

(g) Where the vakalatnama is executed by a power-of-attorney holder of a party, failure to disclose that it is being executed by an attorney-holder and failure to annex a copy of the power of attorney.

(h) Where several persons sign a single vakalatnama, failure to affix the signatures seriatim, without mentioning their serial numbers or names in brackets. (Many a time it is not possible to know who have signed the vakalatnama where the signatures are illegible scrawls.)

(i) Pleaders engaged by a client, in turn, executing vakalatnamas in favour of other pleaders for appearing in the same matter or for filing an appeal or revision. (It is not uncommon in some areas for mofussil lawyers to obtain signature of a litigant on a vakalatnama and come to the seat of the High Court and engage a pleader for appearance in a higher court and execute a vakalatnama in favour of such pleader.)

We have referred to the above routine defects, as Registries/offices do not verify the vakalatnamas with the care and caution they deserve. Such failure many a time leads to avoidable complications at later stages.”