Lalitha Kunaratnam

IN a civil suit between two parties or litigants – on the one part the plaintiff and on the other part the defendant – it is in most cases necessary that the matter to be decided by the court between the two parties be clearly ascertained.

The defendant is entitled to know what it is that the plaintiff alleges against him. The plaintiff is equally entitled to know what defence will be raised by the defendant in answer to his (the plaintiff’s) claim.

In short, the plaintiff will have to state his claim against the defendant while the defendant states his answers to the plaintiff’s claim. Such statements and answers are known in civil suits as pleadings.

What are pleadings?

Pleadings are written statements of fact exchanged between parties in a civil suit, containing all material facts on which the parties rely for the purpose of establishing a claim or defence. The written statements are averments of facts which the party pleading deems material to his case.

The main pleadings are statement of claim and defence (some call it statement of defence).

The purpose of pleadings is two-fold:

(1) to inform each party what the case of the opposite party is which the latter will have to meet before and at the trial, allowing a fair and proper notice to an opponent so as to enable him to frame and prepare his own case for trial;

(2) inform the court what the precise matters in issue are between the parties, which the court alone may adjudicate.

It is said that cases must be decided on the issues on the record and pleadings serve that purpose.

Thus, in the defamation suit filed by MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki against whistleblower Lalitha Kunaratnam, the former is the plaintiff and the latter is the defendant. The former’s pleading is the statement claim while the latter’s is the defence or statement of defence.

Both parties are then put to strict proof of their averments in their pleadings. The Latin maxim semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit which essentially means “he who alleges or asserts or avers must prove” applies equally to both.

So, it is curious that a police report reportedly has been lodged against Lalitha for allegedly lying to the court.

It is reported that Lalitha has allegedly made a false claim regarding her status as a researcher with the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4). She is alleged to have made the claim in her statement of defence.

But, as explained above, Lalitha is entitled to make averments which she deems material to her case in her statement of defence. Needless to say, she must prove the averments at the trial, which is still a few stages away in the civil suit.

In any case, the court has yet to decide on the averment or on any of the averments in the pleadings.

So, why the police report?

This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of BebasNews

– BebasNews

Leave a Reply