Consequences of Non appearance of parties (Order 9)
Consequences of Non appearance of parties (Order 9)
The general provisions of CPC are based on the principle that both the parties must be given an opportunity to be heard. The proceedings must not be held to the disadvantage of one party. Order 9 lays down rules regarding the appearance and the consequences of non appearance of a party in the hearing.
Rule 1 – Parties to appear on day fixed in summons for defendant to appear and answer— On the day fixed in the summons for the defendant to appear and answer, the parties shall be in attendance at the Court-house in person or by their respective pleaders, and the suit shall then be heard unless the hearing is adjourned to a future day fixed by the Court.
Dismissal of Suit
Rule 2 – Dismissal of suit where summons not served in consequence of plaintiffs failure to pay cost— Where on the day so fixed it is found that the summons has not been served upon the defendant in consequence of the failure of the plaintiff to pay the court-fee or postal charges (if any) chargeable for such service, or to present copies of the plaint or concise statements, as required by rule 9 of order VII, the Court may make an order that the suit be dismissed :
Provided that no such order shall be made, if, notwithstanding such failure the defendant attends in person (or by agent when he is allowed to appear by agent) on the day fixed for him to appear and answer.
Rule 3 – Where neither party appears, suit to be dismissed— Where neither party appears when the suit is called on for hearing, the Court may make an order that the suit be dismissed.
Rule 4 – Plaintiff may bring fresh suit or Court may restore suit to file— Where a suit is dismissed under rule 2 or rule 3, the plaintiff may (subject to the law of limitation) bring a fresh suit, or he may apply for an order to set the dismissal aside, and if he satisfies the Court that there was sufficient cause for such failure as is referred to in rule 2, or for his non-appearance, as the case may be, the Court shall make an order setting aside the dismissal and shall appoint a day for proceeding with the suit.
Rule 5 – Dismissal of suit where plaintiff after summons returned unserved, fails for one month to apply for fresh summons—
(1) Where after a summons has been issued to the defendant, or to one of several defendants, and returned unserved the plaintiff fails, for a periods of one month from the date of the return made to the Court by the officer ordinarily certifying to the Court returns made by the serving officers, to apply for the issue of a fresh summons the Court shall make an order that the suit be dismissed as against such defendant, unless the plaintiff has within the said period satisfied the Court that—
(a) he has failed after using his best endeavours to discover the residence of the defendant, who has not been served, or
(b) such defendant is avoiding service of process, or
(c) there is any other sufficient cause for extending the time, in which case the Court may extend the time for making such application for such period as it thinks fit.
(2) In such case the plaintiff may (subject to the law of limitation) bring a fresh suit.
Ex parte Proceedings
Rule 6 – Procedure when only plaintiff appears—
(1) Where the plaintiff appears and the defendant does not appear when the suit is called on for hearing, then—
(a) When summons duly served—if it is proved that the summons was duly served, the Court may make an order that the suit shall be heard ex parte.
(b) When summons not duly served—if it is not proved that the summons was duly serve, the Court shall direct a second summons to be issued and served on the defendant;
(c) When summons served but not in due time—if it is proved that the summons was served on the defendant, but not in sufficient time to enable him to appear and answer on the day fixed in the summons, the Court shall postpone the hearing of the suit to future day to be fixed by the Court, and shall direct notice of such day to be given to the defendant.
(2) Where it is owing to the plaintiffs’ default that the summons was not duly served or was not served in sufficient time, the Court shall order the plaintiff to pay the costs occasioned by the postponement.
Rule 7 – Procedure where defendant appears on day of adjourned hearing and assigns good cause for previous non-appearance— Where the Court has adjourned the hearing of the suit ex-parte and the defendant, at or before such hearing, appears and assigns good cause for his previous non-appearance, he may, upon such terms as the Court directs as to costs or otherwise, be heard in answer to the suit as if he had appeared on the day, fixed for his appearance.
Absence of Plaintiff
Rule 8 – Procedure where defendant only appears— Where the defendant appears and the plaintiff does not appear when the suit is called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order that the suit be dismissed, unless the defendant admits the claim or part thereof, in which case the Court shall pass a decree against the defendant upon such admission, and, where part only of the claim has been admitted, shall dismiss the suit so far as it relates to the remainder.
Rule 9 – Decree against plaintiff by default bars fresh suit—
(1) Where a suit is wholly or partly dismissed under rule 8, the plaintiff shall be precluded from bringing a fresh suit in respect of the same cause of action. But he may apply for an order to set the dismissal aside, and if he satisfies the Court that there was sufficient cause for his non-appearance when the suit was called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order setting aside the dismissal upon such terms as to costs or otherwise as it thinks fit. and shall appoint a day for proceeding with suit.
(2) No order shall be made under this rule unless notice of the application has been served on the opposite party.
Multiple plaintiffs and/or Defendants
Rule 10 – Procedure in case of non-attendance of one or more of several plaintiffs— Where there are more plaintiffs than one, and one or more of them appear, and the others do not appear, the Court may, at the instance of the plaintiff or plaintiffs appearing, permit the suit to proceed in the same way as if all the plaintiffs had appeared, or make such order as it thinks fit.
Rule 11 – Procedure in case of non-attendance of one or more of several defendants— Where there are more defendants than one, and one or more of them appear, and the others do not appear, the suit shall proceed, and the Court shall, at the time of pronouncing judgment, make such order as it thinks fit with respect to the defendants who do not appear.
General Consequence of Non appearance
Rule 12 – Consequence of non-attendance, without sufficient cause shown, of party ordered to appear in person— Where a plaintiff or defendant, who has been ordered to appear in person, does not appear in person, or show sufficient cause to the satisfaction of the Court for failing so to appear, he shall be subject to all the provisions of the foregoing rules applicable to plaintiffs and defendants, respectively who do no appear.
This means either the suit will be dismissed or will be continued ex parte.
Ex parte Decree (Order 9)
As per Rule 6, if the defendant fails to appear before the court in spite of a proper service of the summons, the court may proceed ex-parte and may pass a decree in favor of the plaintiff. This is called an ex-parte decree. In the case of Hochest Company vs V S Chemical Company, SC explained that an ex parte decree is such decree in which defendant did not appear before court and the case is heard in the absence of the defendant from the very beginning.
Remedies available to the defendant against an ex parte decree
1. Application to set aside the ex parte decree – As per Order 9, Rule 13, a defendant may apply before the court that passed the decree to set it aside. If he satisfies the court that the summons was not duly served or he was prevented by any other sufficent cause from attending the hearding, the court shall make an order setting aside the decree. For example, bona fide mistake as to the date or hearing, late arrival of train, etc. are sufficient causes for absence of the defendant. Such an application for setting aside may be made within 30 days from the date of decree as per Section 123 of Limitation Act.
Setting aside decrees ex parte
Rule 13 – Setting aside decree BIex parte against defendant— In any case in which a decree is passed ex parte against a defendant, he may apply to the Court by which the decree was passed for an order to set it aside; and if he satisfies the Court that the summons was not duly served, or that he was prevented by any sufficient cause from appearing when the suit was called on for hearing, the Court shall make an order setting aside the decree as against him upon such terms as to costs, payment into Court or otherwise as it thinks fit, and shall appoint a day for proceeding with the suit;
Provided that where the decree is of such a nature that it cannot be set aside as against such defendant only it may be set aside as against all or any of the other defendants also:
Provided further that no Court shall set aside a decree passed ex parte merely on the ground that there has been an irregularity in the service of summons, if it is satisfied that the defendant had notice of the date of hearing and had sufficient time to appear and answer the plaintiff’s claim
Explanation.—Where there has been an appeal against a decree passed ex parte under this rule, and the appeal has been disposed of an any ground other than the ground that the appellant has withdrawn the appeal, no application shall lie under this rule for setting aside that ex parte decree.
Rule 14 – No decree to be set aside without notice to opposite party— No decree shall be set aside on any such application as aforesaid unless notice thereof has been served on the opposite party.
The court may impose conditions as it may deem fit on the defendant for setting asided the decree. It may ask the defendant to pay costs.
When an ex parte decree is set aside, the court should proceed to decide the suit as it stood before the decree. The trial should commence de novo and the evidence that had been recorded in the ex parte proceeding should not be taken into account.
This remedy is specifically meant for an ex parte decree.
2. Prefer an appeal against the decree under Section 96(2).
3. Apply for review under Order 47 Rule 1.
4. File a suit on the ground of fraud.
All the above remedies are concurrent and can be pursued concurrently.