Allahabad High Court: Joint Consent Needed for jointly Filed Written Statement Amendments

Allahabad HC: Jointly filed statements can't be amended without all parties' consent. Clarifies amendment impacts all signatories.

In Smt. Chanda Kedia & Anr. v. Dwarika Prasad Kedia & Anr, the Allahabad High Court emphasized that a jointly filed written statement cannot be altered without the explicit consent of all parties involved. The court clarified that any amendments to a joint written statement must have the agreement of all signatories, especially when the proposed changes affect the interests of those who did not initiate the amendment.

Justice Jayant Banerji, presiding over a Single Bench, remarked, "There may be various other instances where a serious anomaly may be created by one defendant filing an amendment application leading to jeopardizing the rights and interests of other defendants, who join in filing a written statement…Where a written statement is jointly filed by a group of defendants, it cannot be amended at the behest of one or more such defendants unless the other defendants who are signatories to the joint written statement, expressly consent to the amendments sought."

The case, represented by Advocate Tarun Agrawal for the petitioners and Advocate Rahul Agarwal for the respondents, revolved around the question of whether an amendment application by some defendants could be accepted to amend a jointly filed written statement, particularly when the proposed changes impacted the interests of all signatories.

The legal dispute stemmed from an agreement made in 1987 among seven family members regarding the construction of godowns on a certain piece of land. The agreement delineated the pooling of resources and co-ownership arrangements for the constructed properties. Subsequently, after the demise of one member, another agreement was made in 1996 concerning the same land and godowns.

The plaintiffs initiated legal action, seeking an injunction against the defendants, alleging unilateral actions in the management of the properties. In response, the defendants filed an amendment application in 2022 under Order VI Rule 17 CPC, seeking to amend the written statement. They claimed the existence of a will made by the deceased member, which purportedly influenced the 1996 agreement.

In its remarks, the Court emphasized, "There cannot be a cavil about the legal proposition that while considering an amendment application, a court ought not to enter into the merits of the amendment itself, but rather confine its inquiry for the purpose of determining whether the same is necessary for the purpose of determining the real question in controversy between the parties; to determine that the application is not malafide or an attempt to delay the proceedings; and to determine that the defendant is not attempting to set up a case that would rescind an admission made by him in the written statement."

Consequently, the High Court dismissed the petition.