Litigants are wary of delay in civil Court proceedings. There exists a general notion that a civil suit may take years, even decades together. Here, there are many tools strewn across the Civil Procedure Code which enable the victims of delayed justice achieve their ends and cross the stages of a civil suit quickly. One among such tools is the discovery of evidence through interrogatories
INTERROGATORIES - MEANING
Discovery of evidence by interrogatories are provided for under Sec. 30 and Order 11 of the CPC. The meaning of interrogatories may not be directly clear, but the form of interrogatories portrayed in Appendix C to the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 provide us a fair idea. To put it simply it is a list of questions, in the form of a questionnaire which is served on the other party/parties. It is also notable that the interrogatories in Appendix C are in the form of leading questions.
POINTS TO NOTE
- The leave of the Court must be obtained.
- An affidavit must be filed seeking the leave of the Court as provided for in Form 1 of Appendix C to the CPC, which must be accompanied by the interrogatories.
- A separate order must be obtained in case a party wishes to deliver more than one set of interrogatories to the same party
- An affidavit to answer the interrogatories must be filed within ten days from the date of service, or within such other time as the Court may allow.
- The interrogatories need not be answered personally, but may be answered through a recognized agent.
- Any one or more of the answers to the interrogatories may be used in trial as evidence.
- Interrogatories which do not relate to any matters or the question in the suit shall be deemed irrelevant, even if they might be admissible in the cross examination of the witnesses.
- A interrogatory may be set aside on the ground that they are exhibited unreasonably or vexatiously.
- An interrogatory may be struck out on the ground that they are prolix, oppressive, unnecessary or scandalous.
- An application for the above purpose may be made within seven days after the service of the interrogatories.
- Alternatively, an affidavit for answer can contain objections to the interrogatories on the ground that they are scandalous, not bona fide and immaterial at that stage of suit.
- If a party interrogated omits to answer, or answers insufficiently, the party interrogated may apply to the Court requiring the interrogated party to answer the omitted question, or to further answer the question which is insufficiently answered.
UTILITY OF INTERROGATORIES
Interrogatories are an essential tool to save time and protect the adversary against delay. The evidence stage is an important part of civil proceedings, and consumes a lot of time. This is primarily because, the presence of the parties and witnesses are necessary. Further, there may be documents which have to be submitted the Court which requires time. But, when the deposition required to be taken against the opposite party is simply recorded without the presence of the party, but has the same value as such, it may halve the time consumed in the evidence stage. It is notable that the limitation to answer the interrogatories is ten days.
It must be noted that the affidavit submitted in response to interrogatories have huge evidentiary value. Most lawsuits rest upon one straight question, if the opposite party put to answer, will make him lose his morale, as he may not have a direct answer. For example, in a case for bare injunction, the plaintiff is not entitled to the remedy if he does not have the possession. Such a straight question, if posed by the defendant, will make the plaintiff reconsider the feasibility of the lawsuit in entirety.
The mens legis behind this provision is the curtailing of unnecessary costs and expenditure. The appearance of the parties for simple questions may be unthinkable in many cases.