‘Right to begin’ under Order 18 Rule 1 CPC can be given to defendant under certain circumstances

Orissa High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of A.K. Rath, J., dismissed the petition under Article 227 of the Constitution which challenged the order by the Addl. Senior Civil Judge, Puri whereby the trial court allowed the application of the plaintiff under Order 18 Rule 1 CPC and directed the defendants to begin first.

The plaintiff instituted the suit for partition. The defendants filed a written statement stating that the said property was renovated and developed by their father and after the death of their father, they became the exclusive owners of the suit property. The plaintiff thereafter filed an application under Order 18 Rule 1 CPC for a direction to the defendants to begin first. Defendants filed an objection to the same. The trial court allowed the application. This gave rise to the question that hinged for consideration that as to whether the defendants shall begin first?

The Court, while relying on the case of Rama Krushna Mohanty v. Bala Krushna Mohanty,2017 SCC OnLine Ori 450, and on Order 18 Rule 1 CPC, held that the defendants should begin first. Only when the defendants lead some evidence in proof of their case, the plaintiff shall be obliged to lead evidence in rebuttal. [Shradhamani Panda v. Chintamani Panda,2018 SCC OnLine Ori 420, decided on 19-11-2018]

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