The expression ‘written statement’ has not been defined in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. It ordinarily means a reply to the plaint which is filed by the plaintiff. In a written statement, the defendant rebuts every material fact alleged by the plaintiff and introduces new facts which he believes to be true.
Post the plaint is submitted to the Court by the Plaintiff, the Court summons the defendant to file his reply to the plaint in the form of a written statement.
There is a time period mentioned in Order VIII Rule 1 of C.P.C. within which the written statement can be filed by the Defendant, which is as follows:
- Within 30 days from the date of service of summons on him
- Wherein the defendant fails to file his written statement within 30 days from the date of service on summons on him
- On such other day as may be specified by the Court for reasons of delay to be recorded in writing, but not later than 90 days from the date of service of summons on him;
- On such other day as may be specified by the Court for reasons of delay to be recorded in writing and on payment of such costs as the Court deems fit, but not later than 120 days from the date of service of summons on him;
- On expiry of 120 days from the date of service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right to file the written statement and the Court shall not allow the written statement to be taken on record.
Any document that the defendant wishes to submit as evidence in support of his claims made in the written statement shall be produced by the defendant himself. Any document that is not within the possession of the defendant, then the defendant must state as per his knowledge that the document so produced is within whose possession.
Any denial or new fact put forth by the defendant in his written statement must be specifically written and dealt with.
Sumtibai v. Paras Finance Co. Regd. Partnership Firm Beawer, (2007) 10 SCC 82
“Every party in a case has a right to file a written statement. This is in accordance with natural justice. The Civil Procedure Code is really the rules of natural justice which are set out in great and elaborate detail. Its purpose is to enable both parties to get a hearing. The appellants in the present case have already been made parties in the suit, but it would be strange if they are not allowed to take a defence.”
In this case, the learned counsel for the respondent had raised some arguments along the line of whether the appellant’s written statement should be allowed by the Courts or not. The Court held the argument against the principle of natural justice and stated that the parties had the right to be heard in their matter.
Kailash v. Nanhku (2005) 4 SCC 480:
“ 41.Considering the object and purpose behind enacting Rule 1 of Order 8 in the present form and the context in which the provision is placed, we are of the opinion that the provision has to be construed as directory and not mandatory. In exceptional situations, the court may extend the time for filing the written statement though the period of 30 days and 90 days, referred to in the provision, has expired. However, we may not be misunderstood as nullifying the entire force and impact — the entire life and vigour — of the provision. The delaying tactics adopted by the defendants in law courts are now proverbial as they do stand to gain by delay. This is more so in election disputes because by delaying the trial of election petition, the successful candidate may succeed in enjoying the substantial part, if not in its entirety, the term for which he was elected even though he may lose the battle at the end. Therefore, the judge trying the case must handle the prayer for adjournment with firmness. The defendant seeking extension of time beyond the limits laid down by the provision may not ordinarily be shown indulgence.
42. Ordinarily, the time schedule prescribed by Order 8 Rule 1 has to be honoured. The defendant should be vigilant. No sooner the writ of summons is served on him he should take steps for drafting his defence and filing the written statement on the appointed date of hearing without waiting for the arrival of the date appointed in the summons for his appearance in the court. The extension of time sought for by the defendant from the court whether within 30 days or 90 days, as the case may be, should not be granted just as a matter of routine and merely for the asking, more so, when the period of 90 days has expired. The extension can be only by way of an exception and for reasons assigned by the defendant and also recorded in writing by the court to its satisfaction. It must be spelled out that a departure from the time schedule prescribed by Order 8 Rule 1 of the Code was being allowed to be made because the circumstances were exceptional, occasioned by reasons beyond the control of the defendant and such extension was required in the interest of justice, and grave injustice would be occasioned if the time was not extended.
43. A prayer seeking time beyond 90 days for filing the written statement ought to be made in writing. In its judicial discretion exercised on well-settled parameters, the court may indeed put the defendants on terms including imposition of compensatory costs and may also insist on an affidavit, medical certificate or other documentary evidence (depending on the facts and circumstances of a given case) being annexed with the application seeking extension of time so as to convince the court that the prayer was founded on grounds which do exist.”
In this case, the Court held that in exceptional circumstance wherein the Court requires such a written statement, even post expiry of the time period for filing of Written Statement, the Court can allow filing of the Written Statement.
The consequence of non-filing of written statement is provided in Rule 5 (2) of this Order wherein it is mentioned that the Court may treat the pleas mentioned in the plaint as admitted to defendant where he fails to file the written statement within the time allowed and may pronounce judgment. Apart from Rule 5, Rule 10 of this Order is relevant in the matters of consequences of non-filing of written statement which provides that where a party fails to file written statement within the time permitted by the Court, the Court shall pronounce judgment against him or may pass such other orders as it thinks fit. However this power should not be used by giving only one chance for filing written statement. For further comments see Rules 5 and 10 of this Order