[The Viewpoint] The Law on Admissions in Pleadings

The article discussed the essentials of admission required in order to seek a judgment on admission under Order XII Rule 6 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Samir Malik and Mahip Singh Sikarwar
Samir Malik and Mahip Singh Sikarwar

An admission is a statement made by the parties to a legal proceeding, either oral, documentary or contained in electronic form, which suggests an inference with respect to any fact in issue or relevant fact. In case of a clear admission which cannot even entertain the possibility of a different view, a summary judgment on admission can be passed without trial.

Order XII Rule 6 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 provides for judgment on admissions and being an enabling provision, it is neither mandatory nor preemptory, but discretionary. The court, on examination of the facts and circumstances, must exercise its judicial discretion, keeping in mind that a judgement on admission is a judgment without trial, which permanently denies any remedy to the defendant, by way of an appeal on merits.

Admissions in Pleadings

Admissions in pleadings are statements or averments made in the pleadings which accept or admit the factual matrix presented by the Plaintiff / Petitioner / Claimant, more particularly the matrix pertaining to disputed facts or facts in issue. In order to qualify as a valid admission, it should be unequivocal, unambiguous, unconditional and should be made with an intention to be bound by it. Moreover, such admissions should be valid independently i.e., without having to be proved by adducing evidence and should entitle the other party to succeed without a trial.

Where a party is having a duty to speak, mere silence may also amount to admission. Therefore, facts are considered admitted if not denied specifically in pleadings. Every allegation of fact in the plaint, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication, or stated to be not admitted in the pleading of the defendant, shall be taken to be admitted. Every document which a party is called upon to admit, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication, or stated to be not admitted in the pleading of that party or in his reply to the notice to admit documents, shall be deemed to be admitted, therefore parties must not deny evasively of the allegations or the documents.

It is pertinent to note that admissions draw their strength from the Evidence Act, 1872, particularly Section 58 which provides that facts admitted need not be proved. The said provision thereby ensures that any fact which has been admitted at the hearing, or by any writing, or which by any rule of pleading in force at the time are deemed to have been admitted, would not be required to be proved by trial. In order to seek a judgment on admission under Order XII Rule 6, the party making such an application would have to satisfy the Court on the following essentials of an admission:

  • Admissions in pleading should be read as a whole to determine the admission, and to make any deductions or inference as to any relevant fact or fact-in-issue.

  • Admissions of the fact must be clear from the record itself and cannot be left to the interpretative determination by the court.

  • Admissions must be categorical, unequivocal, unconditional, unambiguous and should be essentially a question of fact.

Pleadings are to be read as a whole in order to determine Admissions in pleadings: Pleadings cannot be read piecemeal and should be read as a whole. A line or two cannot be taken out of context and used as an admission of a party, entitling the other for a judgment upon admission.

The law in this regard has been settled that the admission must be unequivocal and unconditional and the statements / pleadings which are purported to be described as admission, must be taken as a whole, and cannot be dissected or bifurcated. The Courts have well settled the legal principles in this regard while holding that qualified admissions would not call for a decree under Order XII Rule 6 in case of inconsistent pleadings, and in cases where the admissions can be explained away. Moreover, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that though entries in books of accounts are relevant, they by themselves are not sufficient to charge a person with liability. [Management of Consolidated Coffee Estates v. Workmen]

Admission should be a conscious and deliberate act of the party and should not be left to the interpretative determination by the Court: The Hon’ble Delhi High Court has held that the law would not permit admission by inference, since it is a matter of fact. Admission of a fact has to be clear from the record itself. It cannot be left to the interpretative determination by the Court, unless there is a complete trial. Such a finding could be on the basis of cogent and appropriate evidence on record. While the provisions provide that a judgement on admission can be passed at any stage of the proceedings, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that once the issues are framed there is no reason or justification to pass an order on admissions.

The settled law is that any admission which admits of two interpretations, or some arguments cannot be the basis of a judgment under Order XII Rule 6. An admission which is clear, specific, and puts an end to any adjudication enables the Court to give a quick judgment to the party in whose favour the admission has been made, and the judgment must be limited to that extent of the admitted claim, which may not be the whole of the claim. Even then, no party can, as a matter of right, claim a judgment upon admission. The discretion lies with the Court whether or not to give such a judgment in the facts of the case.

Admissions must be categorical, clear and unambiguous: The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the landmark judgment categorically held that an admission should be a conscious and deliberate act of the party making it, showing an intention to be bound by it. The pre-requisites for passing a decree on admission is the existence of an unconditional, unambiguous, and clear admission.

Without prejudice or qualified submission(s) / pleading cannot be treated as admissions: A without prejudice statement (subject to an issue of maintainability) is neither unequivocal nor unconditional, let alone categorical. The Courts have settled the legal principles in this regard while holding that qualified admissions would not call for a decree under Order XII Rule 6. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has settled the law in this regard i.e., where the defendants have raised an objection which go to the root of the case, it would not be appropriate to exercise the discretion under Order XII Rule 6 of the CPC.

Pendency of a counterclaim would not be a hindrance to passing an award on admissions: Where the defendant has filed a counter claim, and consequently certain facts have been admitted by the party, it has been held that the issue to be decided in the order on admissions must be independent of the claim made by the defendant in the counter claim, and should not impact the latter. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in a case observed that the parties were in agreement that there is an admission and clarified that the pendency of a counterclaim independent of the issue would not be a hindrance to passing an award on admissions.

In view of the aforesaid, it would be a futile exercise and a serious miscarriage of justice, if parties are compelled to undergo a full trial where the lis can be brought to an earlier and quicker culmination on the admissions made by a party.

Samir Malik is a Partner and Mahip Singh Sikarwar is a Principal Associate at DSK Legal.

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