The Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (C.P.C from hereon now) is that essential procedural law which provides for the procedure for the enforcement of civil rights and liabilities specified under various substantive laws. An integral part to such procedural formalities is the institution of suit against the defendant in the court of law. Taking a glance at the C.P.C, Sec 26 read with Order 4 specifies that a suit has to be instituted by presenting of the plaint. Presentation of plaint is subject to Order VI and Order VII under the C.P.C. wherein Order VII specifically deal with plaint and its formalities such as the particulars to be contained within.

Among other rules under Order VII, Rule 11 states the various grounds upon which the court can reject a plaint. Though it is to be noted here that Rejection of plain is different from return of plaint (Order VII, Rule 10) where the court finds that it does not have the jurisdiction to try the matter before it, the court returns the plaint to be presented to the proper court which holds the rightful jurisdiction. Whenever an application is filed under Order VII, Rule 11, the court before moving forward, needs to evaluate the said application and determine whether the plaint is admissible to be instituted or not. In the case of Saleem Bhai v. State of Maharashtra[1] held that for the purpose of deciding an application under Order VII, Rule 11, only the averments in the plaint are germane. That, pleas taken by defendant in written statement at that stage is wholly irrelevant and that the direction to file a written statement by the trail court without deciding on the application under Order VII, Rule 11 would be nothing but a procedural irregularity.

The grounds upon which court can reject a plaint given under Order VII, Rule 11 are: -

Where Plaint does not disclose a cause of action [Rule 11(a)]

Cause of Action’ though has been mentioned in plenty instances under C.P.C., but isn’t defined under the code. Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as the grounds (such as violation of a right) that entitle a plaintiff to bring a suit[2]. In other words, cause of action is that fact or combination of facts that provide an individual with the right to seek judicial redress against another individual.

In a legal system, a person is provided with certain legal rights and liabilities under the relevant substantive laws. A breach of those rights by another individuals incurs liability on him. Therefore, the moment the right of one person is breached, it gives rise to cause of action whereby the aggrieved party can bring suit in the court and seek redressal. Rule 11(a) essentially lays down that a plaint is liable to be rejected by the court if such a cause of action, upon which the whole suit is founded is not specified therein.

Order II, Rule 2 of C.P.C.make a mention of cause of action in the context that generally, the whole of the claim has to be made under the given cause of action. Because one can’t trouble a party twice for the same cause of action. However, if the plaintiff chooses to not include a part of claim, he can do so at his will but later on can’t sue for the claim he previously omitted or relinquished from the suit. In the case of Alka Gupta v. Narendar Kumar Gupta[3], preliminary suit was founded upon the cause of action where there was non-payment of the amount under the sale agreement. Whereas, the subsequent suit was founded on the cause of action for non-settlement of records of partnership. Supreme Court observed that Order II, Rule 2 is applicable when both the suits are founded upon a similar cause of action.

The relief claimed in the plaint is undervalued [Rule 11(b)]

Under Rule 11(b), if the plaint presented has the claim undervalued then the court can prescribe a time frame within which the relief claimed has to be correctly valued, (in case) failing in doing so, the court can reject the plaint. Though with the correct valuation, the plaintiff can file a fresh suit under Order VII, Rule 13.

In considering the question whether the suit is properly valued or not, the court must confine its attention to the plaint only and should not look at the other circumstances which may subsequently influence the judgment of the courts as to the true value of the relief prayed for.[4]

Where the relief claimed is properly valued but the plaint is written upon paper insufficiently stamped [Rule11(c)]

As the case may be at times, the relief claimed is properly valued but the plaint is written on paper that is insufficiently stamped and authorized. The plaint is liable to be rejected if the person is unable to present the court with the requisite stamp-paper. However, if the requisite court fee is paid within the time extended by the court, the suit or appeal must be treated as instituted from the date of presentation of plaint or memorandum of appeal for the purpose of limitation as well as payment of court fee.[5]  In the case of Midnapur Zamindary Co. v. Secretary of State[6], the plaintiff was required to submit the amended plaint along with duly stamped paper – but the plaintiff failed in supplying with a stamped paper. To this, the court observed that the plaintiff will not be allowed to amend his plaint and subsequently, the plaint was rejected. In other cases where plaintiff is not able to pay up with the required fee, he may apply to continue the suit as an indigent person.

Where suit is barred by law [Rule 11(d)]

Where it appears that the suits so instituted is barred by any other existent law, the plaint for the same shall be rejected. For instance, where a person entitled to institute a suit or make an application for the execution of a decree, is at the time from which the prescribed period is to be reckoned, a minor or insane, or an idiot, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the disability has ceased.[7] If not, then for that reason the plaint shall be rejected.

On another instance, where in a suit against the government, the plaint does not state that a notice as required by Section 80 of the Code has been given, the plaint will be rejected under this clause. [8]

Where plaint is not filed in duplicate [Rule 11(e)]

Under Order 4, Rule 1, plaint is required to be filed in duplicate. In the absence of same, plaint is liable to be rejected by the court.

Where plaint fails to comply with Order VII, Rule 9 [Rule 11(f)]

In case the plaints fails to meet the requirements specified under Order VII, Rule 9 of the code, the plaint shall be rejected.

(Case Law) :Dahiben vs ArvindbhaiKalyanji Bhanushali (Gajra)(D) THR LRS &Ors.[9]

Factual Background

The subject matter in question here was a plot of agricultural land which was under the ownership of plaintiff. The said property was sold to Respondent No, 1 vide registered sale deed, for an amount of Rs. 1,74,02,000, dated 02.07.2009. Subsequently, respondent issued 26 cheques amounting to Rs. 1,74,02,000 as a consideration.

On 01.04.2013, Respondent No. 1 sold the property to Respondent No. 2 & 3 vide registered sale deed, for a total amount of Rs. 2,01,00,000. Thereafter, on 15.12.2014, the plaintiff filed the suit against Respondent No. 1 for the reason being that the consideration to him was not paid entirely by Respondent No. 1 – where only Rs 40,000 had been paid in cheques and the remaining cheques were bogus.It was also pleaded by the plaintiff that the subsequent sale of land to Respondent No. 2 & 3 be cancelled and declared as being illegal, void and ineffective.

Following this,Respondent No. 2 & 3 filed an application under Order VII, Rule 11(a) and (d) for the rejection of plaint on the grounds that; firstly, the plaint didn’t disclose any cause of action and secondly, the suit was barred by limitation since the suit ought to have been instituted within three years of the initial sale deed, i.e. on 02.07.2009, which was not the case here. 


Both the trial court and the High Court of Gujrat allowed the application for rejection of plaint for the reason that the sale deed which was executed on 02.07.2009 explicitly contained the plaintiff acknowledging and admitting of receiving the full consideration amount. Moreover, the execution of sale deed was not disputed and the conveyance was registered in the presence of plaintiff before sub-registrar, therefore the sale deed cannot be said to be void or illegal. In addition to it, since the present suit filed was after 5 years, it was by default barred by limitation period which is of three years form the date of arising of cause of action.

Aggrieved by the impugned judgment, the plaintiff sought redressal before the Supreme Court in an appeal. The apex court concurred with the findings of trial and high court, but here it went a step further and delineated the true essence of Order VII, Rule 11 under the code.

The court citing the case of Azhar Hussain v. Rajiv Gandhi[10] observed that the purpose of power under Order VII, Rule 11 is to ensure that a litigation which is meaningless and bound to prove abortive should not be allowed to waste judicial time. But the power so given to terminate a civil action is a drastic one and should be strictly adhered to.

With regard to Order VII, Rue 11(a), the court observed that all document provided along with the plaint under Order VII, Rule 14 have to be considered as a whole and a part of plaint. Furthermore, the court stated the test for exercising of power under Order VII, Rule 11 while citing the case of Liverpool & London S.P. & I Assn Ltd. v. M.V. Sea SuccessI &Anr.[11]. The test laid down was,Whether a plaint discloses a cause of action or not is essentially a question of fact. But whether it does or does not must be found out from reading the plaint itself. For the said purpose, the averments made in the plaint in their entirety must be held to be correct. The test is as to whether if the averments made in the plaint are taken to be correctin their entirety, a decree would be passed[12]”.

The court further expounded that it is the substance and not mere form which has to be looked into a plaint. If on a meaningful reading of the plaint, it is found thatthe suit is manifestly vexatious and without any merit, anddoes not disclose a right to sue, the court would be justifiedin exercising the power under Order VII Rule 11 C.P.C..If, by clever drafting of the plaint, it has created the illusion of a cause of action, it should be nipped in the bud, so that bogus litigation will end at the earliest stage[13]. The Court must be vigilant against any camouflage or suppression, and determine whether the litigation is utterly vexatious, and an abuse of the process of the court.    

Conclusively, it was held that the averments in the plaint were totally contrary to the contents of the Sale Deed executed on 02.07.2009 which stated that the full consideration amount was paid. If the payment of such a huge amount remained unpaid, it would be inconceivable to think that the plaintiff would remain completely silent for 5 ½ years. The court held that the plaintiff has tried to create an illusory cause of action which is vexatious and meritless and is also overcome by limitation period. It was found that the omission of date of execution of sale deed i.e. 02.07.2009 was deliberate on plaintiff’s part so as to mislead the court which affirms the reason more so that the suit was not filed in the period of limitation. Hence, in lieu of the stated reasons, the Supreme Court rejected the plaint of the grounds mentioned under Order VII, Rule 11 (a) and (d).