Question: Is it possible to produce additional evidence during the appeal before the appellate court in a civil case? In my case, due to some genuine reasons and also to some extent to the negligence of my lawyer, certain documents could not be produced in evidence during the trial stage. Will the appellate court allow me to submit this additional evidence which is very essential for the proof of my case, and if so under what conditions?
Answer: Order 41 Rule 27 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) contains the relevant provision which allows production of additional evidence before the appellate court, subject to certain conditions. As per this Rule, in general, the parties to an appeal are not entitled to adduce additional evidence before the appellate court, whether oral or documentary. However, in following exceptional situations, the appellate court may allow additional evidence to be produced before it during the appeal stage:
- if the Court from whose decree the appeal is preferred has refused to admit evidence which ought to have been admitted; or
- if the party seeking to produce additional evidence, establishes that notwithstanding the exercise of due diligence, such evidence was not within his knowledge or could not, after the exercise of due diligence, be produced by him at the time when the decree appealed against was passed; or
- if the Appellate Court requires any document to be produced or any witness to be examined to enable it to pronounce judgment, or for any other substantial cause.
In these exceptional circumstances, the Appellate Court may allow such evidence or document to be produced or witness to be examined in the form of additional evidence.
The above Rule further provides that whenever additional evidence is allowed to be produced by an Appellate Court, it shall record the reason for its admission.
Further, it goes without saying that whenever such additional evidence is allowed to be produced by one of the parties before the appellate court, the other parties will have to be given opportunity to rebut such additional evidence, which is a basic requirement of the principles of natural justice.
Therefore, if you want to adduce additional evidence during the appeal stage before the appellate court in your matter, you will have to satisfy one or more of the aforesaid conditions for production of the additional evidence before the appellate court.