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Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (Formerly Known As Ing Vysya Bank Ltd.), Karnataka & Another v/s New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Through Its Senior Divisional Manager, Karnataka

    Revision Petition No. 4626 of 2013

    Decided On, 22 June 2021

    At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC

    By, THE HONOURABLE MS. JUSTICE DEEPA SHARMA
    By, PRESIDING MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MR. SUBHASH CHANDRA
    By, MEMBER

    For the Petitioners: D. Bharat Kumar, Advocate. For the Respondent: S.M. Tripathi, Advocate.



Judgment Text

Oral:

Both these Revision Petitions filed under Section 21(b) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (for short “the Act”) arise out of the common order dated 21.08.2013 of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Karnataka (for short “the State Commission”) in Appeals No.2144 and 2145 of 2011 filed by the Appellant herein against the order dated 21.01.2011 of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, III Addl., Bangalore (for short “the District Forum”) in Complaints No.276 and 277 of 2010.

2. The said Appeals were dismissed by the State Commission on account of delay of 142 days in filing of the same and while dismissing the Appeals, the State Commission has also reflected on the merit of the case and dismissed the Appeals on merit as well.

3. It is argued on behalf of the Petitioner that the Petitioner had reasonably explained the delay before the State Commission which had occurred due to the act of the Counsel on panel. It is submitted that he had lost the file and therefore, the Petitioner had to apply for a certified copy again and therefore, the delay had occurred. It is further argued by learned Counsel for the Petitioner that the delay is unintentional and therefore, the State Commission has erred in dismissing the Appeals on the ground of delay. It is further argued by learned Counsel for the Petitioner that the impugned order is illegal also for the reason that the State Commission had given its finding on the merits of the case simultaneously holding that the Appeal was barred by limitation. Therefore, the impugned order needs to be set aside and the matter needs to be remanded back to the State Commission for fresh decision on merits.

4. It is argued by learned Counsel for the Respondent that the State Commission has certainly erred in giving its findings on the merits of the case while dismissing the Appeals being barred by limitation and this Commission may very well set aside that part of the findings of the State Commission. It is further submitted that the State Commission has rightly dismissed the Appeal as being barred by limitation since the Petitioner has failed to justify reasonably the delay in filing the Appeals.

5. We have heard the arguments at length and have perused the file.

6. It is a settled proposition of law that when an Appeal or a Revision Petition or a complaint is dismissed on the ground of delay, then the Commission under the law is not required to give its findings on merits of the case. The State Commission vide the impugned order has dismissed the Appeals on the ground of delay but simultaneously has given its findings on the merits of the case. In view of the fact that the Appeals were dismissed on the ground of delay, the findings of the State Commission on the merits recorded in the impugned order is hereby scrolled out and it is held that it does not hold part of the impugned order and is not a reflection on the merit of the case.

7. It is well settled proposition of law that the party who is seeking the condonation, has to show sufficient causes which prevented it from filing the appeal/revision within the period of limitation. Simply because the proposition of law governing limitation, harshly affects a person or a party, is not a ground for condoning the delay. The law of limitation has to be applied with all its rigor as prescribed by the statute. The forums have no choice but to enforce the law. A sufficient cause can be considered to be a such cause which had prevented the party to come to the forum within the period of limitation for the reasons which were beyond its control. The party is required to act diligently all the time. It is also required to explain the delay of each and every day. The party is also required to show that it has acted with reasonable diligence. In the case of “Anshul Aggarwal vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, (2011) 14 SCC 578”, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has clearly observed that while dealing with the application seeking condonation of delay, the special period of limitation that has been prescribed under the Consumer Protection Act and the object of the Act which is expeditious adjudication of the consumer disputes, shall be kept in mind and object of the Act should not be allowed to be defeated. It has been so held:

5. 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 Fora.”

8. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of “Ram Lal and Ors. vs. Rewa Coalfields Limited, AIR 1962 Supreme Court 361” has defined the expression “sufficient cause” as under:

“12. 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.”

9. In another case, “R. B. Ramlingam vs. R. B. Bhavaneshwari, I (2009) (2) CLJ (SC) 24” the Hon’ble Supreme Court has laid down the criteria to determine whether the reasons given by the party are sufficient for condonation of delay or not. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under:

"5. 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.”

10. In the present case, the only ground which is given for seeking condonation of delay in filing the Appeals was that the junior Advocate of the Counsel on record misplaced the file and lost the track of the case altogether. The Petitioner enquired about the case on 05.07.2011 and then it was learnt that the file got misplaced along with certified free copy. An application for certified copy of the order of the District Forum dated 21.01.2011 was filed on 06.07.2011. After the certified copy was obtained, the Appeals were filed. From the contention it is apparent that the entire blame is placed on the junior Advocate of the Counsel on record. This certainly is not a valid ground seeking condonation of delay of 142 days. From the contention it is apparent that the free certified copy had been received by the Petitioner and thereafter, it had assigned the matter to

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its panel Counsel. It is also apparent that it did not keep track of the case till 05.07.2011 when they learnt that the file was lost. This only shows that the Petitioner has not acted diligently and their approach was very casual. In the light of these facts, the State Commission was justified in not condoning the delay of 142 days. We found no illegality or infirmity in the impugned order whereby the request for condonation of delay in filing the Appeals was rejected and the Appeals were dismissed on this ground. 11. Both these Revision Petitions stand disposed of in these terms. The findings of the State Commission on the merit of the case are hereby set aside and shall not be treated as part of the impugned order. 12. Copy of this order shall also be placed on Revision Petition No.4627 of 2013.
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