Once the stage of pleadings is over, the Court prepares issues. Issues are the points on which both sides are disputing. The issues are focal points of the controversy.
It is the duty of the court to frame issues on the pleadings, documents and submissions of parties [Order 14 Rule 1(5)].
In practice, many a time advocates on both sides submit draft issues to the judge. Draft issue or issues framed by each side, pointing out that the issues in the suit are those stated in the draft.
Draft issues are not issues framed by the court but drafts of issues are given by advocates by way of assisting the court. The court can look into the draft issues to settle or cast issues.
But, the burden of framing issues is on the court but not on the parties or their advocates. The object of framing issues is to prevent surprise at the trial and enable to the parties to understand what points they are liable to prove.
Issues can be issues of fact, issues of law or issues of mixed questions of fact and law. Order 14 makes provisions for the court to resettle issues at any time (but before pronouncing the judgment) either on application of either of the parties or even suo moto.
The law only provides that whenever an additional issue(s) is (are) settled or issue is recast the parties shall be accorded opportunity to let in evidence oral and/or documentary.
Framing of issues: – In the provisions relating to examination of witnesses or inspection of documents for framing proper issues contained in Rule 4 of Order XIV, time for adjourning the case for said purpose is limited to 7 days by Amendment Act 46 of 1999, Rule 5 which empowers the court to frame additional issues or amend the issues or to strike out issues wrongly framed, and which has been deleted by Act 46 of 1999 has been restored under Act 22 of 2002.