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The Delhi High Court has called for issuance of summons in the district courts, insofar as they concern the Commercial Courts and commercial disputes, as per timelines in the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of the High Courts Act, 2015.
The Court has thus asked its Registrar General to place all relevant record before the Chief Justice of the High Court, on the administrative side, for issuance of directions, as may be required, to amend Rules governing the summons and other notices by the Commercial Courts functioning in the various Districts in Delhi.
The order was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh in a petition by one Sudhakar Singh (Petitioner), assailing a Trial Court order striking off his defence in a case initiated by Webkul Software (Respondent).
Before the Trial Court, the Petitioner had sought to bring his written statement in the case on record.
His defence was, however, closed by the Trial Court on the ground that the written statement, though filed in the prescribed period of limitation, was not accompanied with affidavit of admission/denial and mandatory period of 120 days had already elapsed.
It was Petitioner's stand that neither the summons which were issued called for affidavit of admission/denial to be filed, nor was there an order to the said effect.
The Court perused the various orders passed by the Trial Court and noted that the summons were issued in the case in February, 2019 but no steps were taken initially to serve the same.
Subsequently, fresh summons were issued in March, 2019 and thereafter, on May 1, 2019, the Petitioner was directed to file their written statement along with an affidavit disclosing the date of service of summons.
The Court further recorded that in the summons, there was no mention of the Petitioners being called upon to file the affidavit of admission/denial along with the written statement.
The Court pointed out that the summons were also not issued by the Trial Court as per the format for commercial disputes as notified by the Delhi High Court on November 27, 2015.
Observing that the same may be due to the fact that the said format applied only to the Original Side of the Delhi High Court, the Court opined that the summons in the district courts would be required to be amended in accordance with the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of the High Courts Act, 2015.
As far as the issue at hand was concerned, the Court stated that under Order VIII CPC as amended by the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, filing of the affidavit of admission/denial was not compulsory.
The filing of the affidavit of admission/denial has been made compulsory only in the Delhi High Court (Original Side) Rules, 2018, it added.
In view of the above, the Court concluded that striking off the Petitioner's defence, despite the written statement being placed on record was not tenable and the Trial Court order was set aside.
"In order to avoid any ambiguity, if the statement of truth is not filed, let the same be filed within two weeks in accordance with the provisions of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015."
The Court further ordered,
"The worthy Registrar General to place the present order before the Hon’ble Chief Justice on the administrative side, for issuance of directions, as may be required, in respect of amendments to be carried out in the summons and other notices to be issued by the Commercial Courts functioning in the various Districts in Delhi, so that litigants are made aware about the timelines under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015."
The Petitioner was represented by Advocate Navdeep Dev Singh.
Read the Order: