Chandigarh, April 21, 2022: While dealing with a revision petition assailing the order of the Trial Court refusing to reject the plaint of the defendants-respondents, the Bench of Justice Meenakshi I. Mehta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently held that at the time of deciding the application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC, the concerned Court is to look into the pleadings as set-forth by the plaintiffs in the plaint and it is not supposed to consider the pleas/defence taken or proposed to be taken by the defendants in their written statement.
In this case, essentially, a suit was filed by the plaintiffs (now respondents) against the defendants (now petitioners) seeking a declaration that they (petitioners/ defendants) were not the ‘Mujawars’ at the Shrine of Hazrat Shaikh Sadr-ud-Din, Sadr-i-Jahan (Dargah Haider Shaikh) (‘the Dargah’) at Malerkotla and were not entitled to receive any share in the offerings made at the Dargah and they also prayed for the relief of permanent injunction to restrain them from interfering in the management and affairs of the Dargah and from receiving any share of the said offerings.
The petitioners moved an application seeking rejection of the plaint under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC averring that a Civil Suit of June 1998 (for short ‘the previous Suit’) filed in respect of the same subject matter, was already decided and the first appeal preferred against this judgment was also decided by the Appellate Court. It was also added that 03 (three) Regular Second Appeals arising out of the judgment and decree passed by the first Appellate Court, were pending before the High Court hence, the subsequent suit was argued to be not maintainable.
Hence, the present revision petition was filed assailing the Trial Court order in the subsequent (alleged) suit.
The counsel for the petitioners contended that in the previous Suit, the parties to the subsequent Suit were impleaded as defendants and the subject matter of both these Suits happened to be the same, therefore, the subsequent Suit filed by the plaintiffs, was not maintainable and hence, the plaint thereof deserved rejected.
Not finding substance in this argument, the Court opined that though both the parties to the subsequent Suit were arrayed as defendants in the previous Suit, however, the judgment of the previous suit revealed that the plaintiffs-Khalifas filed the said Suit for seeking a decree for a declaration to the effect that they were entitled to receive the offerings made at the said Dargah and that the fourteenth defendant was not a ‘Mujawar’ of the same and they further prayed for the relief of permanent injunction to restrain the defendants, i.e the parties to the subsequent Suit, from receiving the offerings forcibly whereas the subsequent Suit was filed by the plaintiffs for seeking a declaration to the effect that the petitioners and defendants (third, fifth, sixth and seventh) were not the ‘Mujawars’.
Further, the Court added that though the Regular Second Appeals which arose out of the previous Suit, were pending in this Court, however, from the very nature of the above-discussed relief as sought in both the Suits, it became explicit that the question of the maintainability of the subsequent Suit, would be a mixed question of law and facts and its adjudication would require the appreciation and evaluation of the evidence that may be led by both the parties on the record in support of their respective contentions in this regard.
Even otherwise also, the Court added that it is well-settled that at the time of deciding the application under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC, the concerned Court is to look into the pleadings as set-forth by the plaintiffs in the plaint and it is not supposed to consider the pleas/defence taken or proposed to be taken by the defendants in their written statement.
Thus, the Court held that the petitioners may take up the plea of the maintainability of the subsequent Suit, as may be legally permissible to them, before the trial Court at the appropriate stage but their said plea cannot be taken to be a cogent ground to outrightly reject the plaint under the afore-mentioned provisions.
As a sequel to the foregoing discussion, the revision petition was dismissed.