a) Narration of material “Facts of the Case” is the “backbone” of any litigation; and is perhaps one of the most important skills of the draftsman, and which really decides the “fate” and “length” of the concerned litigation. Therefore, it is of core importance to understand what really constitute “Material Facts of the Case”.
b) The O.6 R.2 of CPC says that every pleading (Plaint and Written statement) shall contain, and contain only, a statement in a concise form of the material facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim or defense, as the case may be, but not the evidence by which they are to be proved.
c) In this write up, I am trying to assess what is the scope of “material facts of the case”.
d) THE acts and omissions of the parties prior to the filing of the Suit; and nature of legal obligations voluntarily / or under the law, incurred by the parties against each other, ordinarily may constitute “Material facts of the Case”.
e) AND, it may further be appreciated that, what is required to be set out in the Plaint / Written statement, are the “material facts of the case”, i.e. the facts which have immediate / close nexus with the Reliefs claimed in the Plaint.
f) Like for example, in a dispute between Husband & Wife over allegations of cruelty, wherein the Wife registers complaint before the Police, and the Police, unlawfully and without following the due process of law, arrest / detains the Husband and his relatives; and therefore, if a Suit for damages for misuse of powers / illegal arrest and confinement (Articles 72/73/74 of Limitation Act, 1963), is to be filed against the State Govt., then material facts for the said Suit would be the “fact of arrest / detention” and “fact of its patent illegality. In the said Suit, the facts of allegations or denial of cruelty may not be elaborately set out. Those facts of cruelty may be of relevance in a case for divorce Petition or in alike proceedings.
g) AND, it is of equal significance to import maximum objectivity in the Pleadings which will invariably struck the opposite party to deal with the allegations made in the Plaint / WS; and failure to explain and the mere denial of fact by the opposite party, may amount to admission of fact, and may result in the conclusion of the proceedings, by virtue of “judgment on admission”, as provided under O.12 R.6 of CPC or rejection of Plaint as provided under O.7 R.11(a) to (d); and if the facts alleged are denied with false defense, the opposite party may be subjected to criminal prosecution of perjury, as provided under S.191., 193, 199 of Indian Penal Code, for which proceedings may be adopted u/s 340 r/w 195 of CrPC.
h) Further, in the absence of “required pleadings”, the Plaint may be wanting in “Material proposition of fact” [contemplated under O.14 R.1(2)] which the Plaintiff must prove (if disputed by the adversary) in order to claim reliefs; and therefore no issues could be framed if the pleadings are alleged to be wanting in specific details, or alleged to be vague or general in nature. “Material proposition” appears to be such proposition of facts which are peculiar to each kind of Suits, which must be alleged to exist in the Plaint to claim relief.
i) AND, whereas what material facts are to be pleaded, would of course depend upon the nature of relief claimed / prayed for, however, the judicially ascertained definition of “cause of action” would furnish a brilliant answer as what should be pleaded in the Plaint / WS. Let us look at Cause of action.
j) In order to commence a legal action, the person must have some real grievance against the person, which is the foundation of any legal action, i.e. he must claim that his rights, whether under the law, or under the contract, or under equity, or under the common law or customs, is infringed.
k) Broadly speaking, Cause of action has two dimensions, one, the accrual of cause of action, i.e. that moment of time when the rights of the Person is infringed and such infringement of right entitles him to move the Court of law, although he may choose not to move the Court immediately; like for example, a Persons sells goods and raise Invoice, dated 01.01.2014, and where the terms of payment agreed was 7 days from the date of Invoice; and therefore, if the payment is not made by 08.01.2014 (7 whole days would be calculated from 02.01.2014 to 08.01.2014), the Seller will have accrual of “Cause of action” on 09.01.2014; And second, cause of action means, the bundle of facts which are necessary (sufficient) to prove by the Plaintiff, to claim a decree from the court; or to say, every fact, which, if traversed, it would be necessary for the Plaintiff to prove, in order to support his right to the judgment of the Court.
l) From the second definition, it also follows that the Plaintiff is not obliged to prove every fact which is being “disputed” by the defendant; and he is required to prove only those facts which are “necessary”, in order to support his right to the judgment of the Court. The expression “material facts” is also known as “Integral facts”. (2007) 6 SCC 769 – Paras 40, 41.
m) Therefore, in the backdrop of reliefs he is claiming, it is for the Plaintiff to ascertain, the facts he has to prove, to authoritatively ask for judgment in his favour; and therefore must clearly set out in his pleadings, those facts. The pleadings, as far as possible, must be supported by documentary evidences [O.7 R.14; O.8 R.1A] available under the law.
n) And, so as to have comprehensive understanding of pleadings, regard may be had to mandate of O.7 R.1(e), O.14 R.1(2) and O.7 R.14 and O.8 R.1A.
o) O.7 R.1(e) mandates that Plaint shall contain the facts “constituting the cause of action”, and when it arose;
p) O.14 R.1(2) mandates that the Plaintiff must lay down the Material propositions of fact in order to show that he has a right to sue, so that an issue may be framed by the Court, if the said proposition of fact is disputed by the defendant. Further, the right must be subsisting on the date of filing of the Suit.
q) O.7 R.14 / O.8 R.1A mandates that where a plaintiff / Defendant sues / rely upon a document or relies upon document in his possession or power, in support of his claim / defense, he shall annex the same along with the Plaint / WS; and where any such document is not in the possession or power of the plaintiff / Defendant, they shall, wherever possible, state in whose possession or power it is.
r) And whereas issues are framed on the basis of pleadings of the parties, and issues [O.14 R.1(5)] can only be framed, when the Court finds that required evidentiary foundation is laid down in the pleadings to prove a “disputed fact”. If the facts are merely pleaded or disputed by the party in his pleading, without any basis or grounds, the Court is not bound to frame issue on the said disputed fact; and the relief claimed by the Plaintiff may be denied on the basis of such pleading; or the fact if disputed but grounds for such dispute if not set out in the WS, the said fact may said to be admitted by the defendant.
s) In this respect, it is also useful to look into the definition of “fact”, “facts in issue”, “evidence” provided u/s 3 of Evidence Act; and mandate of section 5 of Evidence Act, which states that Evidence may be given in any suit or proceedings of every fact in issue and that of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant, and of no others.
S.3: "Evidence""Evidence" means and includes: All statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry, such statements are called oral evidence; all documents including electronic records produced for the inspection of the Court, such documents are called documentary evidence.
S. 5: Evidence may be given of facts in issue and relevant facts: Evidence may be given in any suit or proceedings of the existence or non-existence of every fact in issue and of such other facts as are hereinafter declared to be relevant, and of no others.
S.3: "Fact".-"Fact" means and includes: Anything, state of things, or relation of things, capable of being perceived by the senses; any mental condition of which any person is conscious.
S.3: "Facts in issue".-The expression "facts in issue" means and includes- any fact from which, either by itself or in connection with other facts, the existence, non-existence, nature, or extent of any right, liability, or disability, asserted or denied in any suit or proceeding, necessarily follows.
t) The “Fact” implies– something that actually exists; an aspect of reality; an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect, consequence or interpretation; an evil deed; a crime. (Source: Blacks Law dictionary). It is also very essential to appreciate the distinction between “Facts” and “Facts in issue”.
u) The “Facts” are principal facts; and the trial court while appreciating the evidence adduced (“facts in issue” / “relevant facts”) would record a finding to the existence or non existence of the alleged “fact”; and the said process may also be termed as “finding of fact” or a fact “proved / disproved / not proved”.
v) It is essential to appreciate the distinction between “Facts” and “Facts in issue”.
w) “Facts in issue” are those facts by which the existence of principal facts are sought to be established; are also known as “predicate fact”, from which presumption or inference arises, also termed as fundamental fact or evidentiary fact. Facts in issue may also be referred to as Physical fact: a fact having a physical existence, such as finger print left at a crime scene. Also known as Primary facts: a fact, which can be established by direct testimony and from which inferences are made, leading to ultimate facts. (Source: Blacks Law Dictionary)
x) Facts in issue are those facts which are so closely and intimately attached to the “Issue”; and by the natural inference from which the existence / non-existence of said “issue” may be determined.
y) The mandate of S.5 of the Evidence Act may be instructive in this respect which says that evidence may be given of “facts in issue” and of “relevant facts”, and of no others [Sections 6 to 55 of Evidence Act]. It is also well settled that the party leading any evidence, must in the first instance, plead such facts, and then only he is allowed to lead evidence on such fact. [(2014) 5 MhLJ 233] (2010) 1 SCC 466; (2007) 10 SCC 21, 27; (1999) 4 SCC 403; (1999) 8 SCC 692; AIR 2012 SC 264. AND, therefore, “Facts in Issue” and “Relevant Facts” also constitute material facts of the case and must also be pleaded, alongwith principal facts.
z) Therefore, a heavy burden is cast upon the Plaintiff who invokes the jurisdiction of the Court, to make out a clear cut case for the reliefs he claims; and my brief experience shows that a frivolous Suit would always be wanting in “pleading of material facts”, and the Plaint may liable to be rejected as provided under O.7 R.11(a) to (d), as the case may be; and in every Application under O.7 R.11(a), it must be shown that, in the chain of events, Plaintiff is obliged to prove “this fact” to claim “this Relief”, and the said “this fact” is not “duly” pleaded in the Plaint; and therefore, the Plaint does not disclose cause of action. “Duly” implies a fact which is pleaded and which is supported by applicable / required documentary evidence, upon which the Court can frame an “issue” if the said fact is disputed;
aa) And if the Plaintiff makes out a good case, the burden then falls upon the Defendant to “traverse” the material facts; and his failure to adequately “traverse” the material facts, as provided under O.8 Rr.1A, 3, 4, and 5, may entitle the Plaintiff to claim decree based on the mandate of O.12 R.6, r/w O.15, r/w Sections 17 and 58 of Evidence Act.
bb) Therefore, in every litigation, the Plaintiff must discern / make himself duly acquainted with, as which set of facts he must prove, so as to authoritatively ask for the relief he is claiming; and more so, it is important for the defendant to discern / make out those “set of facts” which must be pleaded and proved by the Plaintiff, before he can authoritatively ask for judgment in his favour, for, if the Plaintiff fails to plead or prove even one fact among those “set of facts”, may render the case of the Plaintiff “fall”.
cc) In my limited understanding of things, a broad approach to drafting of any case may be undertaken in three chronological “Heads” –
i. Reliefs prayed for / claimed;
ii. Grounds for Reliefs prayed / claimed for; (both factual and legal);
iii. Narration of Facts substantiating the said grounds. Further, there would be narration of such facts, which would lay foundation for “material facts of the case”.
dd) It is of central importance that any Relief prayed for / claimed, must be duly articulated, keeping in mind (a) the jurisdiction of the concerned court, where the case is sought to be instituted; (b) the rights / interest claimed of, by the Plaintiff/Petitioner/ Complainant; (c) the obligations and liabilities of the opposite parties / defendant alleged of;
ee) Further, every principal Relief claimed, must be supported by sufficient grounds, to make a strong case for the entitlement of the said Relief and further claim of consequential reliefs thereupon;
ff) Grounds for Reliefs prayed for / claimed, implies (a) the essence / conclusion of material facts; and (b) other legal provisions which supports the reliefs prayed / claimed.
gg) Also, Courts exercises limited jurisdiction, in respect of certain Applications, wherein the provision of law itself prescribes the conditions, on the satisfaction of which, the court may exercise its jurisdiction. Like for example, in Civil Revision Application, conditions prescribed for exercising jurisdiction are narrated in Section 115 itself. Likewise, there could be Review Applications, Application for condonation of delay, Bail Applications, Criminal Revision Application, Application u/s 482 of CrPC, 1973 and so on.
hh) Also, while claiming any relief under Specific Relief Act, 1963, the said Act also indicates the conditions to be satisfied with, while claiming respective relief. In fact, in the exercise of every jurisdiction, the conditions to be satisfied with, for the exercise of said jurisdiction by the Court, are provided in the concerned Section / Article itself, which confers jurisdiction upon the Court to entertain the concerned Application / Suit / Petition. Further, Appendix A, annexed to CPC, 1908, may be of great assistance in this respect.