1. Present appeal is filed against impugned order dated 07.01.2019 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum- II, Udyog Sadan, New Delhi (in short the ‘District Forum’) in complaint case No. 164/2011 whereby the complaint of the respondent/complainant was allowed.
2. Appellant has moved an application for condonation of delay of about 185 days in filing the present appeal.
3. Notice of this application issued to the respondent/complainant who opposed the application by filing reply.
4. It is stated by the appellant that it had received copy of the impugned order in the mid of May, 2019 and immediately thereafter the same was sent to departments concerned legal/commercial and finance departments for taking decision to filed the appeal before this Commission. It is stated that after receiving the approval the appellant consulted its advocate who is having its office in Delhi and upon receiving opinion from its advocate the matter was assigned to the present advocates for drafting the appeal. It is further stated that for drafting the appeal some documents were required and after getting the same documents the appeal was prepared and filed on 07.07.2019. It is stated that delay on the part of appellant is neither deliberate nor intentional and request is made to condone the aforesaid delay in filing the present appeal.
5. I have heard counsel for the parties and perused the material on record.
6. The contention of the appellant is that copy of the impugned order dated 07.01.2019 received by him in the mid of May, 2019 but appellant was miserably failed to file any proof regarding receiving of the impugned order on the aforesaid date. It is evident from the certified copy of the impugned order which is filed by appellant itself that copy of the impugned order was dispatched to both the parties on 14.01.2019 through registered post.
7. Further appellant has not disclosed the name of the officer who after receiving the copy of the impugned order in the month of May had sent the said order to the Legal/commercial and finance department of the appellant. Appellant has also not mentioned the name of his advocate who were preparing the appeal.
8. Application of the appellant only states about the movement of the file from one place to another in the offices of the appellant which does not constitute sufficient cause to condone the delay of 185 days.
9. The appellant has not acted diligently and remained inactive for a long time. The Hon’ble Apex Court held that the settled proposition of law of limitation has to be applied with all its rigour when the statute so prescribes, though it may harshly affect a particular party. Appellant has not been able to give adequate and sufficient reasons which prevented him to approach this commission within the limitation period.
10. It is well settled that “sufficient cause” for condoning the delay in each case is a question of fact and condonation of delay is not a matter of right and the application has to set out the case showing sufficient reasons for not able to come to the commission within the stipulated period of limitation.
11. The meaning of the “sufficient causes” has been defined by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Basavraj & Anr. Vs. The Spl. Land Acquisition Officer, 2013 AIR SCW 6510, and has held as under:-
“9. Sufficient cause is the cause for which defendant could not be blamed for his absence. The meaning of the word “sufficient” is “adequate” or “enough”, in as much as may be necessary to answer the purpose intended, therefore, the word “sufficient” embraces not more than that which provides a platitude, which when the act done suffices to accomplish the purpose intended in the facts and circumstances existing in a case, duly examined from the view point of a reasonable standard of a cautious man. In this context, “sufficient cause” means that the party should not have acted in a negligent manner or there was a want of bonafide on its part in view of the facts and circumstances of a case or it cannot be alleged that the party has “not acted diligently” or “remained inactive”. However, the facts and circumstances of each case must afford sufficient ground to enable the Court concerned to exercise discretion, it has to be exercised judiciously. The applicant must satisfy the Court that he was prevented by any “sufficient cause” from prosecuting his case, and unless a satisfactory explanation is furnished, the Court should not allow the application for condonation of delay. The court has to examine whether the mistake is bonafide or was merely a device to cover an ulterior purpose. (See: Manindra Land and Building Corporation Ltd. Vs. Bhootnath Banerjee & Ors, AIR 1964 SC 1336; Lala Matadin V. A.Narayanan, AIR 1970 SC 1953; Parimal V. Veena alias Bharti AIR 2011 SC 1150 L2011 AIR SEW 1233); and Maniben Devraj Shah V. Municipal Corporation of Brihan Mumbai, AIR 2012 SC 1629: (2012 AIR SCW 2412).
12. It is a settled legal proposition that law of limitation may harshly affect a particular party but it has to be applied with all its rigour when the statute so prescribes. The Court has no power to extend the period of limitation on equitable grounds. “A result flawing from a statutory provision is never an evil. A Court has no power to ignore that provision to relieve what it considers a distress resulting from its operation.” The statutory provision may cause hardship or inconvenience to a particular party but the Court has no choice but to enforce it giving full effect to the same. The legal maxim “dura lex sed lex” which means “the law is hard but it is the law”, stands attracted in such a situation. It has consistently been held that, “inconvenience is not” a decisive factor to be considered while interpreting a statute.
15. The law on the issue can be summarized to the effect that where a case has been presented in the court beyond limitation, the applicant has to explain the court as to what was the “sufficient cause” which means an adequate and enough reason which prevented him to approach the court within limitation. In case a party is found to be negligent, or for want of bona fide on his part in the facts and circumstances of the case, or found to have not acted diligently or remained inactive, there cannot be a justified ground to condone the delay. No court could be justified in condoning such an inordinate delay by imposing any condition whatsoever. The application is to be decided only within the parameters laid down by this court in regard to the condonation of delay. In case there was no sufficient cause to prevent a litigant to approach the court on time condoning the delay without any justification, putting any condition whatsoever, amounts to passing an order in violation of the statutory provisions and it tantamounts to showing utter disregard to the legislature”.
12. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has made it clear that “sufficient cause” only mean adequate and enough reason which prevented a person to approach court within the period of limitation. Where a party remained inactive or has not acted diligently, this cannot be sufficient cause for condonation of such delay.
13. In Office of the chief post Master General & Ors. Vs. Living Media Ltd. & Anr.”,II (2012) SLT 312 it was held by the Apex Court as under:
“In our view, it is the right time to inform all the Government bodies, their agencies and instrumentalities that unless they have reasonable and acceptable explanation for the delay and there was bonafide effort, there is no need to accept the usual explanation that the file was kept pending for several months/years due to considerable degree of red-tape in the process. The Government Departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and commitments. Condonation of delay is an exception and should not be used as an anticipated benefit for Government departments. The Law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be swirled for the benefit of a few. Considering the fact that there was no proper explanation offered by the department for the delay except mentioning the various dates, according to us, the Department has miserably failed to give any acceptable and cogent reasons sufficient to condone such a huge delay. Accordingly, the appeals are liable to be dismissed on the ground of delay”.
14. In “R.B. Ramlingam Vs. R.B. Bhavaneshwari, I (2009) SLT701 Hon’ble SC has held that.
“we hold that in each and every case the Court has to examine whether delay in filing the special appeal leave petitions stands properly explained. This is the basic test which needs to be applied. The true guide is whether the petitioner has acted with reasonable diligence in the prosecution of his appeal/petition.”
15. Similarly, in Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. Kailash Devi & ORs. AIR1994 Punjab and Haryana 45, it has been laid down that;
“There is no denying the fact that the expression sufficient cause should normally be constructed liberally so as to advance substantial justice but that would be in a case where no negligence or inaction or want of bona fide is imputable to the applicant. The discretion to condone the delay is to be exercised judicially i.e. one of which is not to be swayed by sympathy or benevolence.”
16. Supreme Court in “Anshul Aggarwal Vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, 2013(1) CCC 910(NS) : IV (2011) CPJ 63 (SC)” laid down that; “It is also apposite to observe that while deciding an application filed in such cases for condonation of delay, the Court has to keep in mind that the special period of limitation has been prescribed under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for filing appeals and revisions in consumer matter and the object of expeditious adjudication of the consumer d
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isputes will get defeated if this Court was to entertain highly belated petitions filed against the orders of the consumer Foras.” 17. Observations made by Apex Court in the authoritative pronouncements discussed above are fully applicable to the facts and circumstances of the case. 18. The grounds stated in the application are all vague grounds. Admittedly, there is a bureaucratic delay on the part of appellant in filing the present appeal. A valuable right has accrued in favour of the respondent/complainant which cannot be brushed aside. The decision of Chief Post Master General (supra) is fully applicable to the facts and circumstances of the present case. In view of the above I find no ground to condone the inordinate delay of 185 days in filing the present appeal. The application for condonation of delay is accordingly dismissed. As consequences appeal is also dismissed being barred by limitation. 19. A copy of this order be sent to the parties free of cost as per rules and also to the concerned District Forum. Thereafter, the file be consigned to Record Room.