Inderjit Kaushik, Presiding Member:
1. Applicants/appellants- M/s Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and another (In short, 'the applicants') have filed this application for condonation of delay of 73 days in filing the present appeal.
2. It was submitted by the applicants that copy of the order dated 11.05.2011 was prepared by the registry of the District Forum on 31.05.2011 and thereafter, it was received by the applicants through counsel and sent to the concerned department for taking a decision regarding the filing of the appeal. After going through the record of the case, the competent authority decided to file an appeal and the counsel was engaged to file appeal and the appeal was filed.
3. Due to above mentioned reasons, the delay of 73 days in filing the appeal occurred which is neither intentional nor deliberate. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in case 'N.Bala Krishanan Vs Krishnamurthy', AIR 1998(SC)-3222, condoned the delay of 883 days, and prayed that the delay in filing the appeal may be condoned in the interest of justice.
4. In the reply filed on behalf of the respondent, preliminary objections were taken that the application is without any merit and is liable to be dismissed. The applicants have concealed the material facts. The applicants have not made mention that the legal notice-cum-representation dated 06.07.2011 was sent on 07.07.2011 by the respondent which was intentionally neglected by the applicants and failed to comply with the order of the District Forum.
5. On merits, it was pleaded that the applicants have not submitted any documents regarding the registry of the District Forum on 31.05.2011. It was denied that the copy was sent to the concerned department for taking necessary action to file the appeal. The plea of administrative procedural delay pleaded by the applicants is not acceptable u/s 5 of the Limitation Act. The applicants have admitted that the copy of order of the District Forum was received by their counsel, which means that the applicants had the knowledge about the limitation period and they intentionally delayed the filing of the appeal. The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in case 'Union of India Vs Hari Singh', RCR (Civil) 2009(4) 654 has not condoned the delay on account of administrative procedural delay, and prayed that the application may be dismissed.
6. We have heard the learned counsel for the applicants and respondent no.1 and have gone through the record.
7. The application on behalf of the applicants has been filed without giving any detail of delay. The application is vague and does not disclose the sufficient reason or any explanation as to how the delay of 73 days has occurred. The only ground taken by the applicants for condonation of delay of 73 days is that the file was sent to the concerned department for taking decision for filing of the appeal and after the competent authority decided to file appeal, the appeal was filed. However, it is nowhere mentioned as to when and to which department, the file was sent for taking the decision and at what place. When it was decided and who decided that the appeal has to be filed? All this is missing and the application has been filed and drafted in a casual way, taking it for granted that the delay will be condoned. Mere mentioning the procedural delay without any detail of moment-wise events, does not give any right to the applicants, to file the appeal as per their own whims and wishes and is not sufficient to condone the delay of 73 days in filing the appeal. Moreover, in these days of fast communication, it is not digestible that the taking of decision for filing the appeal by any department will take a long time of more than two months.
8. No doubt, in view of the authority of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in case 'Ram Nath Sao @ Ram Nath Sahu Vs Gobardhan Sao', 2002(2)SCC-1, relied upon by the applicants, Section 5 of the Limitation Act and Rule of 9 of Order 22 CPC must receive a liberal construction, so as to advance substantial justice, but in view of the latest law held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court as well as the Hon’ble National Commission, the settled proposition of law that emerges now is that the court/tribunal should be liberal to condone the delay and to decide the matter on merits, but the delay has to be properly explained and once the delay is properly explained, then, it should be condoned, otherwise not. The Hon’ble National Commission in its latest verdict given in case 'New India Assurance Company Limited Vs Sudhakar Suresh Kadam & Anr.', I (2011) CPJ- 152(NC), in Para-1(relevant portion) observed as follows:-
'Be that as it may, the reasonings assigned for condonation of delayare the procedural delays that usually occur with governmental organizations for no one seriously pursuing the matter. The reasonings assigned can hardly be said to be reasonable, satisfactory or even proper excuse for delay. Law of limitation has to be applied with all its vigour provided by the Statute and no Court/adjudicating authority can extend the period of limitation, on equitable grounds. That apart, the expression 'sufficient cause' cannot be construed liberally. The revision petition in this backdrop, for inordinate belated filing of revision petition, merits dismissal on this score alone'.
9. Hon’ble Supreme Court in another case 'Kamlesh Babu and Ors. Vs Lajpat Rai Sharma and Others', 2008(3) The Punjab Law Reporter-455, while interpreting and explaining the scope of Section 3(1) of the Limitation Act, observed as follows:-
'It is well settled that Section 3(1) of the Limitation Act casts a duty upon the court to dismiss a suit or an appeal or an application, if made after the prescribed period, although, limitation is not set up as a defence'.
10. Hon’ble National Commission in case 'Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited Vs DAC Research and Health Specialities Pvt. Ltd.', 2009(1) Consumer Law Today-532, observed that law of limitation does not give any special exemption or indulgence for relaxation of time limit for a Government department and observed in Para-5 (relevant portion) as follows:-
'Law of limitation does not give any special exemption or indulgence in time limit for relaxation of time limits for a Government Department, especially, when a right has been created in favour of one of the parties'.
11. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in case 'Lanka Venkateswarlu (D) By Lrs. Vs State of A.P. & Others', 2011 (2) RCR Civil-880 (SC), after considering the entire case law on the point of delay, in Para-26(relevant portion) observed as under:-
'Once a valuable right has accrued in favour of one party as a result of the failure of the other party to explain the delay by showing sufficient cause and its own conduct, it will be unreasonable to take away that right on the mere asking of the applicant, particularly when the delay is directly a result of negligence, default or inaction of that party. Justice must be done to both parties equally. Then alone the ends of justice can be achieved. If a party has been thoroughly negligent in implementing its rights and remedies, it will be equally unfair to deprive the other party of a valuable right that has accrued to it in law as a result of his acting vigilantly'.
12. The Hon’ble National Commission in case 'HUDA Vs Supreme System', II (2011) CPJ-70(NC), observed as follows:-
'In the present case, the inordinate delay of 107 days cannot be condoned without showing sufficient cause. The only reason given in the application is that the delay in filing the revision petition was due to administrative reasons. Petitioner has not shown any cause much less a sufficient cause for condoning the delay'.
13. The authority relied upon by the respondent further support the above proposition of law that delay occurred due to administrative procedure cannot be condoned.
14. In view of above discussion and the law laid down, it is clear that the delay has to be explained and the excuse of procedural delays cannot be taken into consideration if the delay has not been properly explained. In the present case, as discussed above, no valid reasons or the explanations have been given for condonation of the delay of 73 days.
17. In view of the above discussion, the application filed by the applicants for condonation of delay of 73 days in filing the present appeal, being without any merit, is dismissed. Main Case
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8. As the application for condonation of delay has been dismissed, therefore, the appeal also stands dismissed. No order as to costs. 19. The appellants had deposited an amount of Rs.25,000/- with this Commission at the time of filing of the appeal and another sum of Rs.75,000/- vide receipt dated 08.12.2011 in compliance of the order dated 23.09.2011 passed by this Commission. Both these amounts with interest accrued thereon, if any, be remitted by the registry to respondent /complainant by way of a crossed cheque/demand draft after the expiry of 45 days under intimation to the learned District Forum and to the applicants. 20. Remaining amount, as per order of the District Forum, shall be paid by the applicants to respondent/complainant within 60 days from the receipt of copy of the order. 21. The arguments in this appeal were heard on 13.02.2012 and the order was reserved. Now the order be communicated to the parties.