Whether Time Limit of 120 Days for Filing WS in Commercial Suits Mandatory for Counter Claims?

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The Madras High Court recently decided in an important ruling that the necessary time restriction of 120 days for filing a written statement in a commercial litigation does not apply to a written statement to a counter-claim.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh was deliberating whether it would be prudent, under the terms of the Civil Procedure Code and the Madras High Court Original Side Rules, to condone the Plaintiffs’ 563-day delay in filing the Written Statement for a Counter Claim filed by the Defendant.

The High Court concluded that the applicants, CSCO LLC and Base IX Company LLC, had shown a reasonable cause for the delay in filing the said written statement for the counterclaim while holding that the right to file a written statement to a counterclaim will not be forfeited unless there is an explicit time limit fixed by the court under Order VIII Rule 6 A(3) of the CPC.

Though the Supreme Court clarified in SCG Contracts India Pvt. Ltd. v. K. S. Chamankar Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. & Ors that the Proviso to Order VIII Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure r/w Order VIII Rule 10 of the CPC fixes the maximum period for filing the written statement in commercial suits as 120 days from the date of service of the summons of the Suit, the Madras High Court has observed that it is solely applicable to written statements

The court stated in the order that there was no time limit imposed on the plaintiff because the court did not issue an order directing the applicants to file a written statement to the counterclaim within a specified period under Order VIII Rule 6 A(3) of the CPC, while condoning the respondents’ delay in filing the written statement.

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