The Madhya Pradesh High Court, in a recent judgment, discussed the question whether a plaintiff can withdraw from a suit without consent of co-plaintiffs.

A Single Bench of Justice Milind Ramesh Phadke observed that “if one of several plaintiffs having independent right to relief and which is severable from the right claimed by the other plaintiff(s) seeks to abandon his claim in the suit once and for all without reservation and such abandonment does not affect the right to relief of the co-plaintiff(s), his/her consent would not be a sine qua non and the learned Court may, in its discretion, can grant the prayer made before it on such terms as it considers just and proper supported with reasons.”

The Court granted permission to withdraw from the suit and held that when a plaintiff chooses to abandon or withdraw from the suit without seeking the court's permission to file a fresh suit, it should not compel the plaintiff to continue participating in the proceedings only because a transposed defendant does not consent to such abandonment without justification.

Order 23 of the CPC governs the rules pertaining to the withdrawal of a suit by a plaintiff. As per Order 23, Rule 1(1) of the CPC, a plaintiff can abandon a suit or abandon a part of claim at any time after the institution of a suit. Rule 1(5) of Order 23 of the CPC provides that in case of multiple plaintiffs, any single plaintiff shall not be allowed to abandon the suit or part of his claim without the consent of the other plaintiffs.

Advocate Ankit Singh Rajput represented the petitioner, while Advocate Kaluram Kushwaha appeared for the respondents.

The predecessor-in-title of the petitioner and other plaintiffs had filed a civil suit for declaration of title and permanent injunction in respect of the suit property. During the pendency of the suit, one of the plaintiffs passed away. The Trial Court at that time allowed an application under Order 22 Rule 3 of CPC as a legal representative on the deceased's behalf was already on record. Following this, other plaintiffs also moved to withdraw the plaint under Order 23 Rule 1 of CPC, alleging that one of the plaintiffs had obtained their signatures without consent.

The trial court dismissed the application and a petition was preferred before the High Court.

The High Court noted that all the plaintiffs had an equal share in the property and they had independent, yet identical rights to sue.

The Court held that when one of several plaintiffs has an independent right to relief which is severable from the right claimed by the other plaintiff(s) seeks to abandon the claim in the suit, then such abandonment does not affect the right to relief of the co-plaintiff(s). Such consent would not be a sine qua non.

Accordingly, the Court set aside the impugned order and allowed the petition.

Cause Title: Smt. Kapoori Bai & Ors. v. Neelesh & Ors.

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