Sunday, September 30, 2012

Verification of Pleadings: Is It a Mere Formality?

I have sometimes wondered at the significance of the verification paragraph in pleadings. Turns out that improper verification has been the subject of deliberation of many a judgment. But first, where is the requirement of verification found in the CPC? 

Verification is required for pleadings, so it would be logical to look in the Order which deals with pleadings-namely Order 6.

Has the word “pleading” been defined in the CPC? Yes. Order 6, Rule 1 states in no uncertain terms that “Pleading” shall mean plaint or written statement. Verification of pleadings has been specifically dealt with in Order 6, Rule 15.

Rule 15(1) requires every pleading to be verified. But who can verify the pleadings? A party or one of the parties or anyone who is acquainted with the facts of the case may verify the pleadings. Since verification is required only for pleadings, and pleading means either the plaint or the written statement, it explains why there is no verification paragraph found in interim/miscellaneous applications, including applications for interim injunction.

Does every pleading need to be specifically verified? No. Rule 15(2) allows pleadings to be referenced by Paragraph numbers.

Are there categories in verification of pleadings? Yes. The first category is those pleadings which the deponent verifies on the basis of his knowledge.

The second is those pleadings which he verifies on the basis of information he receives AND which he believes to be true. This requirement of belief is conjunctive. In other words, if the deponent receives a particular piece of information, and he is in possession of a contradictory piece of information, unless he has convinced himself of the veracity of the information he has pleaded, he cannot and ought not to claim that he believes the information received to be true.

If there is evidence to show that the deponent had no reason to believe the information received as true, then he is liable for perjury.

In addition to the verification paragraph, Rule 15(4) also requires the deponent to furnish an affidavit in support of his pleadings. This is further required by Section 26(2) of the CPC which deals with institution of suits. Section 26(2) requires facts in every plaint to be proved by an affidavit.

Does this mean that if an affidavit under Rule 15(4) has not been annexed to a plaint, the plaint is liable to be returned under Order 7, Rule 11? This question was answered by the Calcutta High Court in the negative.

The Court held that non-compliance of Rule 15(4) is not a ground for rejection of a Plaint under Order 7, Rule 11 since there is no express mention of such a ground. In other words, the grounds provided under Order 7, Rule 11 are exhaustive and no new grounds can be read into it.

Further, the Court held that non-filing of an affidavit under Rule 15(4) is a curable defect and non-filing by itself does not make the suit non est (non-existent).

1 comment:

  1. We do not generally require "verification" of pleadings in my jurisdiction (British Columbia Canada). Does the verification signed by the lawyer bind his client to the truth of the statements in the pleading in India? What happens if the client under cross examination denies the truth of statements "verified" by his own lawyer?