The issues are very important to be determined since they are considered the backbone of a suit. Like without cause of action, a plaint it rejected, it is quite apparent that without issues, there exists no suit. Therefore Civil Procedure Code, 1908 provides with provisions regarding settlement of issues.[1] The meaning of issues is to be determined for their settlement. Basically when a plaint is presented, there are certain facts which plaintiff claims. While a written statement of defendant either denies those facts or asserts the same. The facts denied by defendant are generally the subject matter of issues.

In simple terms, issues are those points on which the litigants (plaintiff and defendant) differ with each other and make contradictory statements and as already discussed that issues are ascertained from pleading of rival parties. While discussing about the facts denied or accepted by parties, what we derive from the important part of the pleadings, that is its body, the content of such portion is called material proposition. It can be either of fact or law. At the same time if one party asserts to the material proposition and it is not contradicted by the other, it cannot be amounted to issues. Material proposition is the term bearing capability of being accommodative. Thereby while understanding the term, it can be construed that the propositions which are to be necessarily alleged by a plaintiff to establish his right to sue and by a defendant to establish his defence are material propositions.

Issues are exhaustively classified into two categories that are issue of law and issue of facts. While it has been held that there is no jurisdiction on courts regarding settlement of issue of either of the two kinds.[2] While it is to be kept in mind that the court of first instance can frame and decide any issue, it is desirable that an appellate court of High Court or Supreme Court must be dealt with the question of law.

Since issues are framed during the first hearing of the suit, the content of plaint are sought mainly. The court after thoroughly examining it, also seeks the written statement. After a proper examination of documents along with its pleaders and parties, the court henceforth frames the issues. It is the obligation of the parties to assist the court in the framing. Issue’s relevance can be understood because they guide the parties for leading evidence[3] and the court is bound to decide a point which has been framed as an issue.[4] It is equally noticeable that the court cannot frame an issue which is not pleaded. The material propositions which are of fact and law are to be consistent with issues. That is facto probanda and issues should not be consistent with subordinate facts or evidence by which material questions of fact or law are proved or disproved which are called facto probantia.[5]

It is understood that issues can be either of issue of law or issue of fact and on the material propositions but what consideration should court keep in its mind while determining these material propositions. Order XIV, Rule 3 talks about the same. The allegations made on oath by the parties, or representatives or pleaders in the pleadings or in the answer to interrogatories delivered in the suit along with the contents of the documents filed by either party are to be determined and investigated properly.

An issue once framed can be deleted or amended at the later stage of a suit.[6] An issue can also, if the court may desires be added at any stage but it is to be kept in mind that the deletion, addition or amendment is to be done before passing a decree of the court. On the other hand, a stage prior to it that is judgement, it is also to be kept in mind that it is only on the settlement of all issues that the judgement of the court is made.[7]

A very interesting provision regarding framing of issues stage is also that the court may dispose the suit at the first hearing itself. While the stage of first hearing is customarily called, the stage of framing of issues. It can happen that during at one instance both issues are framed and a judgement is made. It can take place during several occasions some of which are when the court is satisfied that the parties are not at issue or where several defendants conflict on question of law or fact, the one dispensing with, be availed with pronouncement of judgement while the suit may be proceeded for the rest of them. Another situation maybe when the court is satisfied that no further argument of or evidence is necessary, even then a suit van be disposed of, provided that all pleaders must be present and none of them should raise any objection to it. A last situation which bears the similar consequence is when the summons has been issued for the final disposal of the suit and either party fails without sufficient cause to produce the evidence on which it relies.

From the settlement, to its determination and the basis of which they are to be determined, Civil Procedure Code is provided with everything under Order XIV. On all the above-mentioned submissions made it can be understood why the framing of issue is so significant that it has been held in the case of State of Gujarat v. Jaipalsingh Jaswantsingh Engineers and Contractors[8] that “Issues are the backbone of a suit. They are also the lamp post which enlightens the parties to the proceedings, the trial court and even the appellate court as to what is the controversy, what is evidence and where lies the way to truth and justice.”

[1] Order XIV, Rule 1 to 7.

[2] Ramesh B. Desai v. Bipin Vadilal Mehta (2006) 5 SCC 638

[3] Sita Ram v. Radha Bai AIR 1968 SC 534

[4] Victoria Girl’s School v. Board of Education (1969) 74 CWN 328

[5] Lekhraj Diddi v. Sawan Singh, Air 1971 MP 172

[6] Order XIV, Rule 5

[7] Order XIV, Rule 2

[8] (1994) 35 (1) Guj LR 258

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