1. The present Revision Petition, under Section 21 (b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short “the Act”) has been filed by the Petitioner against the order dated 19.12.2017 of the Gujarat State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Ahmedabad (for short “the State Commission”) in First Appeal No.169/2016 whereby Appeal filed by the Petitioner was dismissed for default.
2. Alongwith the Revision Petition, IA/11759/2018, an application for condonation of delay of 188 days has also been filed by the Petitioner.
3. I have heard the Learned Counsel for the Petitioner on IA/11759/2020, application for condonation of delay and also carefully perused the record.
4. It was submitted by learned Counsel for the Petitioner that the Petitioner had no knowledge of law and was not aware whether to file Revision Petition before the National Commission or to file an application before the State Commission for recall of the order passed by the State Commission, whereby the Appeal of the Petitioner/Appellant was dismissed for default. No other submission has been made on behalf of the Petitioner.
5. From the impugned order it is clear that Petitioner was absent before the State Commission on 18.01.2017, 23.02.2017, 03.04.2017, 21.06.2017, 19.07.2017, 22.07.2017, 09.10.2017 and 19.12.2017 and on 09.10.2017 last opportunity was granted to the Petitioner for putting appearance but the Petitioner failed to appear before the State Commission. In the application for condonation of delay, Petitioner has not given any reason for his non-appearance before the State Commission. State Commission had given seven dates for appearance of the Petitioner before dismissing the Appeal and finally when the Petitioner failed to appear even on the eighth date, the State Commission dismissed the Appeal for default for want of non-prosecution. Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that Petitioner had no knowledge of law and was not aware whether to file Revision Petition before the National Commission or to file an application before the State Commission for recall of the impugned order. It is settled proposition of law that no party can take the plea of ignorance of law. Hon’ble Apex Court held that settled legal 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. The Petitioner has not been able to give adequate and sufficient reason which prevented it to approach this Commission within the limitation.
6. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has also held that party who has not acted diligently or remain inactive is not entitled for condonation of delay. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of “R. B. Ramlingam vs. R. B. Bhavaneshwari, I (2009) CLT 188 (SC)” has also described the test for determining whether the petitioner has acted with due diligence or not. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under:-
"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.”
7. Condonation of delay is not a matter of right and the applicant has to set out the case showing sufficient reasons which prevented them to come to the Court/Commission within the stipulated period of limitation. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Ram Lal and Ors. Vs. Rewa Coalfields Limited, AIR 1962 Supreme Court 361 has held as under:
“It is, however, necessary to emphasise that even after sufficient cause has been shown a party is not entitled to the condonation of delay in question as a matter of right. The proof of a sufficient cause is a condition precedent for the exercise of the discretionary jurisdiction vested in the Court by Section 5. If sufficient cause is not proved nothing further has to be done; the application for condoning delay has to be dismissed on that ground alone. If sufficient cause is shown then the Court has to enquire whether in its discretion it should condone the delay. This aspect of the matter naturally introduces the consideration of all relevant facts and it is at this stage that diligence of the party or its bona fides may fall for consideration; but the scope of the enquiry while exercising the discretionary power after sufficient cause is shown would naturally be limited only to such facts as the Court may regard as relevant.”
8. The burden is on the applicant to show that there was sufficient cause for the delay. The expression ‘sufficient cause’ has been discussed and defined by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Basawaraj & Anr. Vs. The Spl. Land Acquisition Officer, 2013 AIR SCW 6510, as under:
“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”, inasmuch as may be necessary to answer the purpose intended. Therefore, the word “sufficient” embraces no 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 for the reason that whenever he court exercises 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. V. Bhootnath Banerjee &Ors, AIR 1964 SC 1336; LalaMatadin V. A.Narayanan, AIR 1970 SC 1953; Parimal V. Veena alias Bharti AIR 2011 SC 1150 L2011 AIR SEW 1233); and ManibenDevraj Shah V. Municipal Corporation of Brihan Mumbai, AIR 2012 SC 1629: (2012 AIR SCW 2412).
It is a settle 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 flowing 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 lexsedlex” 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.
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”.
9. Also in the case of “Anshul Aggarwal Vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (2011) 14 SCC 578, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has warned the Commissions to keep in mind while dealing with such applications the special nature of the Consumer Protection Act. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under:
“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 matters and the object of expeditious adjudication of the consumer disputes will get defeated if this court was to entertain highly belated petitions filed against the orders of the consumer foras."
10. In a recent judgment the Hon’ble Supreme court observed that condonation of delay would depend on the background of each and every case; and routine explanation would not be enough. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in University of Delhi vs. Union of India & Ors. in Civil Appeal Nos.94889489 of 2019 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos.55815582 of 2019) decided on 17.12.2019 has held as under: -
“The consideration for condonation of delay would not depend on the status of the party namely the Government or the public bodies so as to apply a diff
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
erent yardstick but the ultimate consideration should be to render even handed justice to the parties. Even in such case the condonation of long delay should not be automatic since the accrued right or the adverse consequence to the opposite party is also to be kept in perspective. In that background while considering condonation of delay, the routine explanation Page 24 of 34would not be enough but it should be in the nature of indicating “sufficient cause” to justify the delay which will depend on the backdrop of each case and will have to be weighed carefully by the Courts based on the fact situation ……. That apart when there is such a long delay and there is no proper explanation, laches would also come into play while noticing as to the manner in which a party has proceeded before filing an appeal.” (emphasis supplied) 11. In view of the above, I find no sufficient ground to condone the delay. The application for condonation of delay is accordingly dismissed. As a consequence, Revision Petition is also dismissed being barred by limitation.