Interrogatories under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

By Neha Choudhary


One of the key elements for the proper functioning of rule of law is its procedure. Fair trial is an essential part of a just society and justice is what every party desires. It is important to ensure that each party to the suit is given equal opportunity for a fair trial and thus is granted to access the relevant information and documents of the case.

Civil Procedure Code provides procedures that are to be followed in a Court for justice to be provided simply and effectively. One such essential procedure provided under Civil Procedure Code is the discovery by interrogatories.Interrogatories are the discovery tool for obtaining information of witnesses, relevant documents, order of events, claims, defenses, etc. from the opposite party in the form of questions.

Interrogatories in a simplified way can be defined as written questions required to be answered under the direction of Court.[1]

When a civil suit is filed initiated with a complaint, summon is issued to the defendant. After the statement of defendant is recorded, both the parties are summoned to present for the first hearing for the settlement of the issues.

After the settlement based on insufficient information, if either party of the suit thinks that certain part of the pleading or information regarding the case is inadequate, the party with the permission of the Court can exercise the tool of interrogatories. Interrogatories come under procedural law and are enshrined under Section 30 read with Order XI of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

Order XI Rule 1 of Code of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 states:

In any suit the plaintiff or defendant by leave of the Court may deliver interrogatories in writing for the examination of the opposite parties or any one or more of such parties and such interrogatories when delivered shall have a note at the foot thereof stating which of such interrogatories each of such persons is required to answer.

Provided that no party shall deliver more than one set of interrogatories to the same party without an order for that purpose;

Provided also that interrogatories which do not relate to any matters in question in the suit shall be deemed irrelevant, notwithstanding that they might be admissible on the oral cross-examination of a witness.”

The tool of interrogatories for the discovery of evidence plays a significant role as the parties are entitled to know about the material facts and evidence of the case which is in knowledge of one but maybe unknown to the opponent.

The list of questions which is legally known as interrogatories is presented by one party to the opposite one with a motive to gather sufficient facts to either strengthen his case or destroying the case of the opponent.[2]

The information and the facts which are relevant for the case are obligated to be answered by the opposite party, whereas they would not be compelled to provide the irrelevant and immaterial facts.[3]

Authority to Administer

The authority to carry out the interrogatories to the opposite party stands with both the parties. The interrogatories can be presented from a plaintiff to the defendant and vice versa.

In exceptional cases interrogatories can be presented by someone on behalf of the party, i.e. co-plaintiff can administer the interrogatories against co-defendant and vice versa.

In a suit, the interrogatory may be issued to a third party when he becomes relevant to the suit or against the principle on behalf of his agent. In cases like unsoundness, lunacy/insanity, or minority, the interrogatories can be issued to the guardian or the next friend.


The objective behind the whole approach of interrogatories can be understood in multiple ways.

The direct objective behind administering interrogatory is to support and enhance his case by obtaining the information from the opponent or indirectly by getting his admission[4] over the material fact which otherwise would have to be proved by oral or documented evidence[5] and secondly to weaken and destroy the opponent’s case.

Under the provisions for interrogatories, each party has the right to issue interrogatories for the adverse party. These provisions not only provide the parties with the right to question but also save their expenditure, efforts, and from the time-consuming process of gathering information and evidence.

Civil Court proceedings are delayed due to multiple reasons. One such reason can be an increase in the number of litigations or maybe the number of judges appointed is disproportionate to the number of litigations. There can be plenty of reasons for the delayed justice to the victims but the presence of certain tools enables the victims of delayed justice to reach the destination. One such tool is discovery through interrogatories.

In a civil suit, for the proceedings to be lawful and fair for the parties involved, it is important to ensure that each party enjoys their right to gather material facts liberally. These relevant questions needed to be answered in a specified time under the direction of the Court.

Procedure to administer Interrogatories

Interrogatories are needed to be presented by one party to the opposite party under the administration of the Court. These interrogatories before being presented directly to the opponent are first submitted in the Court in the form of the application[6] and it is over the Court to decide whether the questions are material to the suit filed or if necessary, make conditions and limitations within the seven days of the filing the application[7].

The approval of the Court to administer the interrogatories must be in a written document and the interrogatory would be issued to the opponent only after his statement is recorded. Once the party administers interrogatory to the opposite party, the same party cannot administer again without court’s permission.

In exceptional cases, the additional interrogatories can be presented to the same party.

The interrogatories can be administered to someone on behalf of the parties to the suits in exceptional cases; this can be the case where a party is a corporation or a body of person[8]. This can also be done in cases where the party is incapable to perform i.e. minor, lunatic, unsound mind, etc.

Interrogatories must be filled as according to the format given under Civil Procedural Code, 1908. They should be in the form of No. 1 and No. 2 of Appendix C. These forms provide the general format with the modifications and variations necessary for the valid interrogatories[9]. The affidavit should in the form of No. 3 of Appendix C[10].

The affidavit should be filed with the interrogatories within ten days after the interrogatory has been administered[11]. If the interrogatories are not answered or insufficiently answered, the Court may direct the adverse party to answer sufficiently or through a viva examination.[12]


Each party entitles the right to refuse to answer the interrogatory on certain grounds. [13]  These grounds can be irrelevant or scandalous questions, mala fide, premature interrogatories, oppressive or unreasonable questions[14], for example: if a party oppressively blames the adverse party for an offence.[15]

The application for not answering or striking off the interrogatories shall be made within seven days from service of interrogatories.[16]

Forbidden Interrogatories

The parties to the suit have the right to administer the interrogatories to the opposite party however it is important to ensure that the right has not been misused when exercised liberally without any restrictions. Order XI of the code may be misused, and it is necessary to put some restraints to ensure that the right of the one party is not oppressing the opponent.

The Court may not allow the interrogatories when the material fact is the exclusive evidence of the opponent’s case as the party cannot know beforehand that how the opponent is going to defend his case[17] or when it is confidential information between the opposite party and his lawyer as to claim privilege of the legal advice[18] or publication of such information would be against public interest[19] or when the information has no nexus to the suit filed or fishing interrogatories[20].

Case Laws

  • Rajasthan High Court in the case Govind Narayan and Ors. vs. Nagendra Nagda and Ors[21] held that the whole purpose of interrogatories is to seek admission of a party on matter in dispute so that the issues can be accordingly framed, minimizing the contentious issues or disputes left for the adjudication of the Court, with the ultimate object of facilitating an early and expeditious disposal of the suit.
    • A close and conjoint reading of these two provisions make it clear that the Court can allow service of interrogatories, at any stage of the suit, for which it has been conferred wide discretion, but at the same time, the discretion must be exercised judiciously.
    • The information sought to be furnished must have some nexus or relevancy with the dispute in question.
    • Hence, the Court can be a bit liberal in admitting the interrogatories at the initial stage of a suit but the same standards cannot be applied at the advanced stage of the trial, when the evidence of the parties has begun. Interrogatories cannot be permitted, once the evidence of the concerned opposite party is over.
  • In the case of Babbar Sewing Machine Co vs Trilok Nath Mahajan,[22] it was held the penalty imposed by order XI, rule 21 is of a highly penal nature and ought only to be used in extreme cases and should in no way be imposed unless there is a clear failure to comply with the obligations laid down. The stringent provisions of order XI, rule 21 should be applied only in extreme cases where there is contumacy on the part of the defendant or a willful attempt to disregard the order of the Court is established.
  • In the case of Raja Narain v. Indira Gandhi[23], while dealing on the matter under Order XI Rule 1, the Supreme Court held Questions that may be relevant during cross-examination are not necessarily relevant as interrogatories. The only questions that are relevant as interrogatories are those relating to “any matters in question”. The interrogatories served must have reasonably close connection with “matters in question“. Viewed thus, interrogatories 1 to 18 as well as 31 must be held to be irrelevant.


The aim behind the concept of interrogatories is to provide each party of the suit, the right to discovery of evidence and material facts through the set of questions formally called interrogatories. Interrogatories help in cutting costs, efforts, and time from the extensive process of gathering information from the party in possession of the information.

The procedure to administer interrogatories is compulsory to be followed by the parties. Each party has the right to administer interrogatories; however, these rights have some restrictions as well.

It is at the discretion of the Court to decide which interrogatory is to be allowed and which one shall not be allowed. The court may not allow the interrogatory when it’s scandalous, irrelevant, in the nature of cross-examination, harmful to public interest, etc.

The parties to suit may also object to the interrogatory and may file the application for not answering the question. The parties may object in the case when the questions are not in reasonable connection, oppressive or the opponent’s case is solely based on that evidence.

However, the material facts which are known to one party must be in knowledge of the opposite party as well.

  1. Merriam Webster Dictionary
  2. Raj Narain v Indira Nehru Gandhi (1972) 3 SCC 850
  3. Viredner Aggarwal v. Sagheer Ahmed & Ors.
  4. Ganga Devi v.Krushna Prasad AIR 1967 Ori 19
  5. P. Balan v. Central Bank of India AIR 2000 Ker 24
  6. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 2
  7. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 1
  8. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 5
  9. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 4
  10. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 9
  11. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 8
  12. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 11
  13. Neckram vs. Bank of Bengal, (1887) 14 Cal 703
  14. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 20
  15. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 6
  16. Civil Procedure Code, 1908 Order XI Rule 7
  17. M.L Sethi vs. R.P. Kapur, (1972) 2 SCC 427
  18. Blank vs. Canada, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 319
  19. State of Punjab vs. Sodhi Sukhdev Singh, AIR 1961 SC 493
  20. Tarun Kumar And Ors. vs Ajay Kumar
  21. MANU/RH/0832/2017
  22. 1978 AIR 1436, 1979 SCR (1) 57
  23. 1972 SCR (3) 841

Related Post