The Supreme Court observed that by overturning the exparte decree, the defendants can be allowed to be involved in the suit proceedings and cross-examine witnesses.
The defendants, in this case, were set ex parte by the Trial Court. The Trial Court also dismissed their application under Order IX Rule 13.
The First Appellate Court granted the defendants’ appeal and overturned the exparte judgment and decree, observing that the suit should be disposed of after the parties had an opportunity to present their relevant evidence and rebuttal evidence.
Allowing the plaintiff’s petition, the Orissa High Court overturned the First Appellate Court’s order solely on the grounds that because the defendants did not file a written statement or contest the suit, reopening the case would be futile.
The Apex Court bench noted in its appeal that the First Appellate Court’s order was consistent with the law established by this Court.
In the cases of Sangram Singh v. Election Tribunal, AIR 1955 SC 425, and Arjun Singh v. Mohindra Kumar, AIR 1964 SC 993.
As noted and held by this Court in the case of Sangram Singh (supra), upon setting aside the exparte decree and restoring the suit, the parties shall be placed in the same position as they were when the exparte judgment and decree were passed, and the defendants may not be allowed to file the written statement because no written statement was filed.
At the same moment, they may be allowed to be involved in the litigation and crossexamine witnesses. In that regard, the impugned judgment and order of the High Court are untenable.
Nonetheless, if the exparte judgment and decree are reversed, the defendants who did not file a written statement may be allowed to be involved in the suit and cross-examine the witnesses.
As a result, the High Court is incorrect in concluding that because the defendants did not file a written statement, reopening the case by setting aside the exparte judgment and decree will be futile.
As previously stated, the High Court has made no findings on the accuracy of the First Appellate Court’s order setting aside the exparte judgment and decree on merits.”