At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MS. JUSTICE DEEPA SHARMA
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Petitioner: S.J. Amith, Ashok Bannidinni, Advocates. For the Respondent: Radhalakshmi, Adhish Rajvanshi, Advocates.
1. The present revision petition has been filed against the order dated 22nd March, 2019 whereby the application of the petitioner under Section 5 of the Limitation Act for condoning the delay in filing appeal No.1822/2017 against the order of the District Forum dated 9th May, 2017 in CC/97/2016 was dismissed.
2. There was a caveat and the caveator is also present. Hence, the caveat is discharged. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent submits that there is also delay in filing the present revision petition and that an application for condonation of delay has also been moved by the petitioner.
3. Heard. Since the delay in filing this revision petition is merely of 17 days, the said delay is condoned.
4. Arguments on the revision petition are heard. It is argued on behalf of the petitioner that the State Commission had erred in dismissing the appeal only on the ground that it was filed with delay. It is submitted that it ought to have been decided the matter on merit and order is illegal.
5. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent submits that the petitioner is in the habit of getting delayed and they take the matters very casually which contention is apparent from the fact that not only the appeal was filed with the delay, the present revision petition has also bene filed with delay. It is further argued that condonation of delay is not a matter of right and they are required to show sufficient reasons for condoning the delay which they had failed.
6. There is no doubt that the appeal was filed by the petitioner with delay and that is why an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act was also moved. Although in the application the petitioner had stated that the delay was of 49 days, the Registry of the State Commission calculated the delay as of 87 days. There is no doubt that Courts/Commissions while dealing with the appeal/revision should make an endeavour to dispose of the matters on merits. However, where there is a delay, the burden is upon the person who appeared before the Commission for condonation of delay to explain it by sufficient reasons which prevented them from moving the appeal/revision within time. The delay is not a matter of right as has been held by Hon’ble Supreme Court in various pronouncements. There is no doubt that the Commission has to adopt a liberal attitude but still the law requires that the applicant has to explain the delay of each and every day by giving reasonable explanation for such delay. The Hon’ble Supreme court in the case of Ram Lal and Ors. vs. Rewa Coalfields Limited, AIR 1962 Supreme Court 361 has held as under: -
“It is, however, necessary to emphasize 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 discretionary jurisdiction vested in the Court by S.5. If sufficient cause is not proved nothing further has to be done; the application for condonation 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.”
7. The test which this Commission has to apply while dealing with the matters is if the applicant had acted with reasonable/due diligence. Where the due diligence is missing and where there are no circumstances which could be of such nature that the applicant had been prevented from filing the appeal/revision within the period of limitation, such delay cannot be condoned. The test to be applied has been discussed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Anshul Aggarwal vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, IV (2011) CPJ 63 (SC). The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the special nature of Consumer Protection Act has to be kept in mind and that the object of expeditious adjudication of consumer dispute will not be allowed to be defeated. Hon’ble Supreme court observed 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.”
8. In the case of Recently, Hon’ble Supreme Court in Post Master General and others vs. Living Media India Ltd. and another (2012) 3 Supreme Court Cases 563 Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that the departments are not absolved from observing the period of limitation prescribed by the statute. Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under: -
“27. It is not in dispute that the person(s) concerned were well aware or conversant with the issues involved including the prescribed period of limitation for taking up the matter by way of filing a special leave petition in this Court. They cannot claim that they have a separate period of limitation when the Department was possessed with competent persons familiar with court proceedings. In the absence of plausible and acceptable explanation, we are posing a question why the delay is to be condoned mechanically merely because the Government or a wing of the Government is a party before us.
28. Though we are conscious of the fact that in a matter of condonation of delay when there was no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bonafide, a liberal concession has to be adopted to advance substantial justice, we are of the view that in the facts and circumstances, the Department cannot take advantage of various earlier decisions. The claim on account of impersonal machinery and inherited bureaucratic methodology of making several notes cannot be accepted in view of the modern technologies being used and available. The law of limitation undoubtedly binds everybody including the Government.
29. 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 procedural red-tape in the process. The government departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence a
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nd commitment. 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. 30. Considering the fact that there was no proper explanation offered by the Department for the delay except mentioning of various dates, according to us, the Department has miserably failed to give any acceptable and cogent reasons sufficient to condone such a huge delay.” 9. The administrative reasons for delay is no ground for condonation of delay, in view of the settled proposition as discussed above. I found no illegality or infirmity in the impugned order. The revision petition has no merit and the same is dismissed.