At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R.C. JAIN
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Appellants : Ms. Meenakshi Midha, Advocate. For the Respondent : Jai Raj Singh, Advocate.
R.C. JAIN, PRESIDING MEMBER
Aggrieved by the order dated 18.07.2009 passed by the Kerela State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram ( in short, the State Commission) in OP No. 01 of 2003, M/s New India Assurance Company has filed the present appeal. By the impugned order, the State Commission has partly allowed the complaint filed by complainant M/s P C K Boards, a partnership firm, seeking a compensation of Rs.13,12,477.85 towards the loss sustained by them on account of damage to their insured building, machinery, electric fittings and raw material ( stocks) etc. While doing so, the State Commission has directed the opposite party ? New India Assurance Company Limited to pay compensation of Rs.5,01,909/- to the complainant by way of insurance claim with interest @ 9% p.a. w.e.f. 05.1.2002 till the date of payment or realization besides awarding cost of Rs.5000/-.
2. Since the appeal was not filed within the prescribed period of limitation, an application seeking condonation of 141 days delay in filing the appeal has also been filed alongwith Memorandum of Appeal. Notice on the application for condonation of delay as well as on the appeal was issued to the respondent ? complainant. The respondent has opposed the application for condonation of delay by filing a detailed reply besides filing reply to the Memorandum of Appeal and application for staying the operation of the impugned order. Since the delay in filing the appeal is more than three months and application is being opposed on behalf of the respondent ? complainant, we consider it expedient to decide the said application before we proceed to examine the appeal on its merits.
3. We have heard Ms. Meenakshi Midha, learned counsel representing the appellant ? insurance company and Mr. Jai Raj Singh on behalf of the respondent and have given our thoughtful consideration to their respective submissions. Learned counsel for the appellant would seek condonation of delay primarily on the ground that delay in filing the appeal was not willful and was occasioned due to certain unavoidable circumstances as set out in the application. It has been averred in the application seeking condonation of delay that copy of the impugned order was received by the appellant ? insurance company only on 30.09.2009 and on receipt, it was forwarded to the concerned branch office (Kannur Branch) and on receipt of legal opinion from the handling counsel, the file was forwarded to the concerned regional office at Kochi. Regional office thereafter forwarded file to the Mumbai head office from where the file was forwarded to the Delhi Regional Office on 22.01.2010 for filing the appeal. The file was handed over to the counsel on 05.02.2010 who after getting certain documents translated promptly filed the present appeal. In the reply filed by the respondent, the above averments and allegations are denied and it is submitted that none of the reasons set up by the appellant inspire confidence and deserve out right rejection.
4. The law as to how an application for condonation of delay should be considered and delay condoned or not condoned is settled through catena of decisions of the Apex Court and various High Courts as well as that of this Commission. A person seeking condonation of delay is obliged to explain each day?s delay and the reason due to which the delay has occasioned. This must be done by making specific averments date wise so that the concerned court or tribunal can satisfy itself that there were sufficient cause which prevented the appellant from filing the appeal within the prescribed period of limitation. In the case in hand, as noticed above, the averments made are quite general / vague. It would appear that after receipt of the copy of the impugned order, delay of more than three months had taken place at its branch and Regional Offices itself. Neither the names / designation of the officers who handled the matter at the Branch Office and the Regional Office or Head Office have been mentioned nor the dates or the period during which the file remained under their consideration have been given. The delay is sought to be condoned on the ground what is called as ?procedural delay? in handling the matter in an impersonal institution. The Courts have lamented on the practice of such institutions seeking condonation of delay for the alleged reason of procedural delay. In our view, the reasons set forth in the application do not establish ?sufficient cause? on account of which they can seek condonation of delay. Practice of insurance companies and similarly situated institutions in filing the appeal after undue delay without just and sufficient cause must be curbed rather than encouraged. In the present case, we are not inclined to condone the undue delay of mo
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re than three months in filing the present appeal. We, therefore, decline the application. 5. Even after doing so, we have examined the merits of the appeal and having regard to the entirety of the facts and circumstances of the case and material produced on record, we are of the opinion that view taken by the State Commission is justified and calls for no interference at our end in the well reasoned order of the State Commission. Appeal is also dismissed leaving the parties to bear their own costs in these proceedings.