The Supreme Court of India, in the appeal case of Sugandhi & Others vs. P.Rajakumar, held that, in cases where an application is made by the defendant for the production of documents which he was not able to produce along with the written statement, Courts should adopt a liberal approach while arriving at a decision. This was observed by the Apex court while hearing an appeal case against the Madras High Court Judgment which dismissed the revision petition filed by the defendants in a suit. This appeal challenged the decision of the Madras High Court for refusing to entertain an application under Order 8 Rule 1A (3) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 seeking leave of the Court to produce additional documents. The defendants claimed that they had no prior knowledge about these documents related to the suit property and that is why they could not produce them earlier, at the time of filing the written statement.
The bench comprising of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Kanna, while referring to Order 8 Rule 1A of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 observed that the defendant is mandated to list out the documents which are in his possession or power as well as those which are not. In the cases where the defendant defaults to file any documents along with his written statement, such documents are not to be allowed to be received as evidence at a later stage. But the Court held that Sub-rule (3) provides a second opportunity to the defendant to produce the necessary documents. The discretion conferred upon the Court to grant such leave is to be exercised judiciously.
The Court was of the opinion that procedural and technical hurdles should not come in the way of Court while delivery substantial justice, as it’s often considered that procedure is the handmaid of Justice. It should not be forgotten that litigation is nothing but a journey towards trust which is the foundation of justice. Courts are required to trace out underlying truth in every dispute. Thus, the Supreme Court of India directed the courts to take a lenient view when an application is made for the production of the documents under Order 8 Rule 1A (3) of the Civil Procedure Code.