Dr. S. M. Kantikar, Presiding Member
1. This Appeal has been filed under Section 19 of The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’, challenging the Order dated 08.01.2019 in Complaint No. 1490/2018 passed by The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Delhi, hereinafter referred to as the ‘State Commission’.
2. We have heard the learned counsel for the appellant and perused the material on record.
3. The instant Appeal was filed after the self-admitted delay of 104 days. We have perused the application for condonation of delay filed by the appellant. The reasons for delay are not explained satisfactorily. However, in the interest of justice, the delay in filing the Appeal is condoned.
4. On merit, brief facts relevant for disposal of this appeal are that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) allotted a flat bearing No. 215 to Shri. Dalbir Singh vide letter dated 16.01.1992. The complainant was General Power of Attorney (GPA) holder of the allotted flat and the conveyance deed was executed in the name of the complainant. The grievance of the complainant was that the demand letter issued to him was for very high amount of Rs. 2,68,600/-. Other allottees of the same scheme were charged with the cost of construction prevailing in 1990, however, the complainant (a subsequent allottee) was given the demand letter in 1992 i.e after 21 months of the draw of lots. Therefore, the complainant was compelled to pay Rs. 11,18,848/- and the sale deed was executed on 16.02.2015. The Complainant filed a complaint before Delhi Government Mediation Centre on 22.12.16 but the matter was not settled there. Being aggrieved by the unjustified penalty imposed by DDA, a complaint was filed in the State Commission, Delhi.
5. The State Commission dismissed the complaint in limine as barred by limitation with the following observation:
5. I have gone through the material on record and heard arguments for the purpose of admission. There lies a rub in the case of the complainant. At the most cause of action arose in his favour on 16.02.15when conveyance deed was executed. Subsequent efforts for settlement through Mediation does not give rise to fresh cause of action. The limitation for filing a consumer complaint is two years under Section 24 A Consumer Protection Act. Complaint filed on 22.11.18 is bitterly barred by limitation. Complainant himself has moved an application for condonation of delay. The application does not disclose any cogent ground for condonation of delay. Law is that condoning of delay is filing complaint is a serious matter as there is no such provisions for condoning delay in filing suit in Civil Court. In this regard I have the privilege to follow the decision of National Commission in RP No. 2618/02 titled as C.H. Vithal Reddy vs. Manager District Cooperative Central bank decided on 04.12.02. The application for condonation is dismissed. With this the complaint should automatically stand dismissed as being barred by limitation.
7. Not only this, after taking possession and after execution of conveyance deed, complainant does not remain a consumer as per decision of 5 member bench of National Commission in A.N. Sehgal vs. DDA I (1996) CPJ 34. Similar view has been taken by National Commission in RP No.1128/06 titled as Sushil Kumar Sharma vs. DDA decided on 08.04.10. To the same effect is decision of National Commission in Harpal Arya vs. Housing Board II (2016) CPJ 26 and Smita Roy vs. Excel Construction II (2012) CPJ 204.
(paras 5 & 7 of the State Commission’s Order)
6. Being aggrieved by the above said order, the Complainant filed this appeal.
7. We agree with the observations made by the State Commission that the complaint was barred by limitation. It is apparent that on 16/02/2015 the conveyance deed was executed in favour of the Complainant, however the consumer complaint was filed on 22/11/2018, i.e. beyond two years as limitation prescribed under Section 24 (a) of the Act, 1986.
8. The catena of judgements from this Commission and Hon’ble Supreme Court wherein unexplained delay was not condoned. It is a settled proposition of law that condonation of delay is not a matter of right. Sufficient grounds are required to be shown. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Ram Lal and Ors. Vs. Rewa Coalfields Limited AIR 1962 Supreme Court 361 has clearly held that condonation of delay is not a matter of right and petitioner /applicant is required to act bonafidely and the circumstances shown were beyond the control which caused the delay. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held 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.”
Similarly, in the case of Anshul Aggarwal vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, IV (2011) CPJ 63 (SC), wherein the Hon’ble Apex Court has highlighted the object of Consumer Protection Act particularly expeditious and in expensive remedy to the consumers.
“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”.
9. Based on foregoing discussions and relying upon the decisions of Hon’ble Supreme Court, we are not inclined to interfere with the State Commission’s impugned Order. The Appeal is dismissed.
10. Registry is directed to send a copy of this Order to the appellant within a week.
Per Hon’ble Mr. Dinesh Singh, Member
11. This appeal has been filed with self-admitted delay of 104 days. The reasons for delay, as stated in the application for condonation of delay, show a casual attitude to the law of limitation, they are unsound and unpersuasive in explaining the delay. Sufficient cause to explain the delay is not forthcoming. However, in the interest of justice, to provide fair opportunity to the appellant, to decide the appeal on merit, the delay in filing the appeal is condoned.
12. The complainant, the appellant herein, is a subsequent allottee of a flat allotted through draw of lots by the Delhi Development Authority. The original allottee sold his allotment to the complainant through a General Power of Attorney. The complainant is in possession of the subject flat. A conveyance deed was executed on 16.02.2015. Aggrieved with the charges / penalty etc. levied by the Authority, the complainant filed a case before the State Commission on 17.12.2018. The State Commission dismissed the case inter alia on limitation.
13. Section 24A of the Act 1986 stipulates a limitation period of two years from the date on which the cause of action arose. Discounting the prior dates on which the contentious demand letter(s) etc. were issued by the Authority, and computing from 16.02.2015, when the conveyance deed was executed, when the cause of action unquestionably arose, till 17.12.2018, when the case was filed before the State Commission, it is e
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vident that the case was filed after about 2 years and 10 months of the date on which the cause of action arose. The State Commission inter alia observed that the application to condone the delay in filing the case before it did not disclose “any cogent ground for condonation of delay”. A perusal of the said application, filed by the complainant before the State Commission, shows a perfunctory attitude to the law of limitation, the stated reasons are groundless and unconvincing to explain the delay. It is well evinced that sufficient cause to condone the delay was not forthcoming. The State Commission has passed a well-appraised and well-reasoned Order in arriving at its finding that the case was “bitterly barred by limitation”. As such, it cannot be faulted in dismissing the case on limitation. 14. This appeal is dismissed. The Order dated 08.01.2019 of the State Commission is affirmed.