w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n


Skipper Beverages Pvt. Ltd. and Oyhers V/S State Bank of India

    Misc. Appln. No. 371 of 2001 in Misc. Appeal No. 268 of 2001
    Decided On, 01 July 2003
    At, Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal At Delhi
    By, THE HONORABLE JUSTICE: K.S. KUMARAN
    By, (CHAIRPERSON)
    For Petitioner: Ratan Kumar and Nikhilesh Krishnan, Advocate And For Respondents: S.L. Gupta and R.K. Dixit, Advocates.


Judgment Text

1. Respondent-State Bank of India (hereinafter referred to as the respondent-Bank) filed Suit No. 2248/93 before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi against the four appellants (defendants 1 to 4) herein as also against Mrs. Rupam (as 5th defendant) for the recovery of Rs. 1,19,90,393.25 with interest and costs. Defendants 1 to 4 had also filed their written statement before the High Court. On 23.8.95, the Suit was ordered to be transferred to the Debts Recovery Tribunal in view of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). The parties were directed to appear before the Tribunal on 20.10.95. On 20.10.95, the matter was taken on file by the Debts Recovery Tribunal-III, Delhi (hereinafter referred to as 'the DRT'), as O.A. 1070/95 and default notice was ordered to be issued to the Counsel for the defendants by Registered Post and ordinary process for 5.1.1996. On 5.1.1996 also, fresh default notice was ordered to be issued for 13, 2,96 since the acknowledgement for service had not been received. On 13.2.1996 also, fresh default notice was ordered to be issued for 22.3.96 as the notice had not been served. Similar order was passed on 22.3.1996 also with a direction to list the case on 5.7.1996. On 5.7.1996, the defendants were ordered to be served by substituted service, and the matter was ordered to be listed on 11.9.1996. On 11.9.1996, the citation regarding publication was produced, and on 1.10.1996, the defendants in the O.A. were set ex parte. Ultimately, on 4.3.1997, the learned Presiding Officer of the DRT passed the ex parte final order for Rs. 1,19,90,393.25 with interest and costs.

2. The appellants filed an application for setting aside the ex parte final order which was dismissed by the learned Presiding Officer of the DRT by order dated 11.11.1998 observing that there was no sufficient cause to set aside the ex parte final order.

3. Aggrieved by the same, appellants filed Civil Writ Petition 1519/99 before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi, but the said civil writ petition was disposed of by the Hon'ble High Court by order dated 20.9.2000 with a direction to the appellants to approach this Tribunal observing that an application for condonation of delay may be filed, and expressing the view that this Tribunal will take into consideration the fact that the Civil Writ Petition was pending before the High Court, while deciding the said application.

4. The appellants filed the appeal on 19.12.2001 along with this application for condonation of delay in filing the appeal. The respondent has filed a suitable reply opposing this application.

5. I have heard the Counsels for both the sides, and perused the records.

6. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the final order dated 4.3.1997 was passed by the learned Presiding Officer of the DRT without application of mind, and that the said order is no judgment at all in the true sense of the term. He points out that in spite of the fact that the appellants had filed the written statement to the O.A. even while the matter was pending before the Hon'ble High Court, the learned Presiding Officer has proceeded on the basis that the appellants had not filed the written statement at all and, therefore, they had no answer to the claim made by the respondent-Bank in the O.A. He, therefore, contends that the case put forward by the appellant in the written statement has not been considered at all and, therefore, the final order dated 4.3.1997 is not a judgment in the eye of law. He further contends that even if the written statement had not been filed, the learned Presiding Officer of the DRT should have examined the case of the respondent-Bank, and decided the case instead of mechanically granting the final order.

7. In this connection, the learned Counsel for the appellant relies upon the decision in Balraj Taneja v. Sunil Madan, VIII (1999) SLT 65=IV (1999) CLT 362=( 1999) 8 Supreme Court Cases 396, wherein it has been held as follows:

"Whether it is a case which is contested by the defendants by filing a written statement, or a case which proceeds ex parte and is ultimately decided as an ex parte case, or is a case in which the written statement is not filed and the case is decided under Order 8, Rule 10, the Court has to write a judgment which must be in conformity with the provisions of the Code or at least set out the reasoning by which the controversy is resolved."
He also relies upon the decision in Commissioner, Income Tax v. Surendra Singh Pahwa and Ors., 1995(3) All India Banking Law Judgments 77, wherein it has been held as follows :

"A judgment unsupported by reasons is no judgment in the eye of law. It is well settled that reasons are the links between the material on record and the conclusion arrived at by the Court. Mere fact that the defendant absented himself on the date of hearing and the suit proceeded ex parte, did not by itself entitle the plaintiff to get a decree in his favour. The Court was under an obligation to apply its mind to whatever ex parte evidence or a affidavit filed under Order XIX of the Code is on the record of the case, and application of mind must be writ large on the face of the record. This is possible only if the Court directs itself to whatever material is on record of the case, analyses the same and then comes to any conclusion on the basis of evidentiary value of the ex parte evidence or affidavit brought on record by the plaintiff. It may also be observed that the written statement already filed in this case would not be deemed to have been wiped off the record merely because the defendant did not appear on the date of issues and the suit was ordered to proceed ex parte."
But, the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank on the other hand contends that even in the written statement filed by the appellants they have not denied the availing of the loan facilities from the respondent-Bank, but, had only pleaded that they had signed in blank forms, that the respondent-Bank had withheld timely release of the facilities, that additional working capital was not granted to the appellants and, therefore, sustained loss, and would be making a counter-claim. The learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank points out that the appellants had not made any counter-claim at all. Therefore, according to him, there is no valid defence to the O.A. and whatever was urged by the appellants, the same had to be proved by them and, therefore, in the circumstances, the learned Presiding Officer of the DRT has rightly passed the final order.

8. The learned Counsel for the appellants, however, contends that this matter was pending as a civil suit before the Hon'ble High Court, and was transferred to the DRT by order dated 23.8.1995 directing the parties to appear before the Tribunal on 20.10.1995. He contends that on 23.8.1995 there was none present on behalf of the defendants and, therefore, the appellants/defendants could not have been aware of the direction. But, the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank, on the other hand, points out from the application filed by the appellants before the DRT to set aside the ex parte final order itself that the appellants were aware that the suit will be transferred to the DRT. He points out the averments made in paragraph 3 of the said application wherein the appellants have stated that the progress of the case was known to the defendants/applicants only on 10.11.1994, and that the Counsel for the defendants. Mr. S.K. Maniktala had informed the defendants/ applicants that the case was likely to be transferred to the DRT, New Delhi and notice thereof would be issued to the applicant, and that the defendants/applicants, as such, need not worry about the progress of the case. Pointing out these averments made by the appellants themselves, the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank contends that the appellants knew very well that the case would be transferred to the DRT, and the appellants had deliberately avoided appearing before the DRT in spite of knowing the fact that the suit had been transferred to the DRT, He, therefore, contends that the averments that their Counsel had told that they need not worry, and a notice would be issued to them, have all been made only to drag on the proceedings.

9. But, the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that since the appellants were not present before the Hon'ble High Court when the order transferring the suit to the DRT was made, notice was necessary to the appellants by the DRT for their appearance. In this connection, the learned Counsel for the appellants relies upon the decisions in B.S. Corporation and Anr. v. The Sangli Bank Ltd., II (2001) BC 13 (DRAT/DRT) and in Devassia v. South Indian Bank Ltd., II (2001) BC 524 in support of his contention.

10. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the DRT also felt the necessity to issue notice, and directed by its order dated 20.10.1995 to issue default notice to the Counsel for the appellants/defendants by registered post and ordinary process. He also points out that since the notice was either not served or could not be served, fresh default notices were ordered to be issued by orders dated 5.1.1996, 13.2.1996 and 22.3.1996. He points out that on 22.3.1996 while directing issue of default notice, the case was ordered to be listed on 5.7.1996. The learned Counsel for the appellants points out that Mr. Maniktala who had been appearing for appellants/defendants in the High Court, on receipt of notice informed the DRT by his letter dated 3.1.1996 that the brief has been withdrawn from his office and, therefore, he is no longer representing the defendants, and, therefore, notice may be issued to the defendants. The learned Counsel for the appellants points out that the copy of this letter found at page 96 of the appeal paper book shows the seal of the Tribunal (on the left hand bottom) for having received that letter.

11. He further points out that in spite of this, on 5.7.1996 though the learned Counsel for the respondent Bank had stated before the DRT that the appellants/defendants had been served, still the DRT felt that the defendants should be served, but it did not issue fresh notice by registered post/ ordinary process, but directed that the appellants/defendants be served by substituted service.

12. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that no affidavit regarding service, and no acknowledgement for service of the notice was filed before the DRT. He also points out that the respondent-Bank had not filed any unserved envelope but still service by the mode of substituted service had been ordered, which, according to him, is not valid.

13. The learned Counsel for the appellants in this connection relies upon the decision in IBY Pharma v. State Bank of Indore and Ors., I (1994) BC 575. He also relies upon the decision in Yallawa v. Shantavva, (1997) 11 Supreme Court Cases 159, wherein it has been held as follows:

"The learned Counsel for the respondent was also justified in submitting that the Trial Court could not have almost automatically granted the application for substituted service without taking steps for serving the respondent by ordinary procedure as laid down by Order V, Rules 12, 15 and 17, CPC. It must be kept in view that substituted service has to be resorted as the last resort when the defendant cannot be served in the ordinary way and the Court is satisfied that there is reason to believe that the defendant is keeping out of the way for the purpose of avoiding service, or that for any other reason the summons cannot be served in the ordinary way."
He also relies upon the decision in Ashok Nagar Welfare Association v. R.K. Sharma, VIII (2001) SLT 415=I (2002) CLT 6 (SC)=(2002) 1 Supreme Court Cases 749, in support of his contention that when there was nothing from which it could be inferred that it was not possible to serve the defendants in the ordinary course, the order for effecting substituted service by publication is bad in law, and that substituted service can be ordered by the Tribunal only on satisfaction that there was reason to believe that the defendants were keeping out of the way for the purpose of avoiding service, or that for any other reason the summons cannot be served in the ordinary course.

14. Pointing out the above aspects, and relying upon these decisions, the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that there was no valid or legal ground for directing service of notice/summons on the appellants/defendants by substituted service and, therefore, the appellants ought not to have been set ex parte, or the final order passed. He, therefore, contends that the application filed by the appellants for setting aside the ex parte final order should have been allowed. As pointed out already, he also contends that even otherwise the final order is no judgment in the true sense of the term, and ought to have been set aside.

15. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the appellants were not aware of the final order. According to the appellants, on or about 28.1.1998 the 3rd appellant-Pawan Chopra had gone to the State Bank of India, Chandni Chowk with reference to another matter, and that it was only at that rime the officials of the Bank not only informed him about the decree passed by the DRT, but also that the execution was likely to follow. But, the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank, on the other hand, denies these averments that on or about 28.1.1998 3rd appellant-Pawan Chopra had gone to Bank, and was informed by the official of the Bank about the final order. He contends that the appellants have not even disclosed as to who was the official who allegedly informed Pawan Chopra about the ex parte final order. He further contends that the substituted service was validly ordered, and there was no ground at all for setting aside the ex parte final decree.

16. But, the question with which we are now concerned in this application is whether the delay in filing the appeal can be condoned. It is only for the purpose of pointing out that the appellants have a good case to be considered in the appeal that the appellants have brought forth the above said factors. Therefore, only to that extent the factors pointed out would be relevant at this juncture, since, we are not considering at this stage the question whether there was sufficient ground for setting aside the ex parte final order. It is only in these circumstances the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank has also pointed out certain factors to counter the case put forward by the appellants. But, the question to be decided now is whether there are good grounds for condoning the delay in filing the appeal.

17. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the several facts, as pointed out above, will go to show that the interests of justice require that the appellants should not be shut out at the threshold, and that they should be given an opportunity to put forward their case in defence to the O.A. He contends that rules of limitation should not be allowed to defeat the cause of justice. He contends that in the interests of justice and in order to prevent failure of justice, the delay has to be condoned.

18. The impugned order rejecting the application filed by the appellants to set aside the ex parte final order was passed on 11.11.1998, whereas, the present appeal has been filed only on 19.12.2001, i.e., more than three years after the passing of the impugned order.

19. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the appellants had filed a Writ Petition 1519/99 before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi challenging the impugned order dated 11.11.1998. The said writ petition was filed on 15.3.99. The learned Counsel for the appellants points out that the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi by order dated 20.9.2000, directed the appellants to approach this Tribunal with regard to the grievances made in the said writ petition. He further points out that the Hon'ble High Court had also directed that the appellants may also apply for the condonation of delay, and expressed the view that the Appellate Tribunal will take into consideration the fact that the writ petition was pending before the Hon'ble High Court, while deciding the application to condone the delay. Therefore, the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the appellants were bona fide litigating before the Hon'ble High Court and, therefore, the delay in filing the appeal should be condoned. The learned Counsel for the appellants further contends that the respondent-Bank itself had sent a letter to the appellants in pursuance of the scheme for 'One-time settlement', and in pursuance of the same, the appellants had also sent a proposal for settlement by letter dated 9.3.2001 (copy of which has been annexed with the appeal). He also points out that the respondent-Bank had also sent its reply dated 28.3.2001 agreeing in principle to the one-time settlement offer subject to certain conditions mentioned therein. He contends that the respondent-Bank had asked the appellants to deposit certain amount, which was far more than the claim in the O.A. itself and, therefore, the talks on settlement proposal were on. He contends that the proposal sent by the appellants had not been rejected by the respondent-Bank till the date of filing of the appeal on 19.12.2001. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that on a similar proposal made by another company-Skipper Foods (P) Ltd., the directors of which are the same as of the appellant company, the matter has been settled finally on 28.3.2001, and payments were made.

20. Therefore, the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that since talks on settlement were on, and the proposal of the appellants had not been rejected by the respondent-Bank, the appeal was not filed immediately.

21. The learned Counsel for the appellants contends that the 3rd appellant, who is looking after the affairs of the appellant Company, also fell ill from 28.4.2001 to 20.8.2001, and that was also a reason for the delay in filing the appeal.

22. Pointing out these factors, the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that this Tribunal should liberally interpret the term "sufficient cause" for the purpose of setting aside the ex parte final order, and should also lean in favour of condoning the delay in filing the application or the appeal as a rule, and that rejection of the request for condoning the delay should be an exception. In this connection, he also relies upon the decision in G. Ramegowda v. Special Land Acquisition Officer, (1988) 2 Supreme Court Cases 142, wherein it has been held as follows:

"If there is negligence, deliberate or gross inaction or lack of bona fides on the part of the party or its Counsel there is no reason why the opposite side should be exposed to a time-barred appeal. Each case will have to be considered on the particularities of its own special facts. However, the expression 'sufficient cause' in Section 5 must receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice and generally delays in preferring appeals are required to be condoned in the interest of justice where no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bona fides is imputable to the party seeking condonation of the delay."
He also replies upon the decision in Ramnath Sao v. Gobardhan Sao, II (2002) SLT 240= I (2002) CLT 244 (SC)=(2002) 3 Supreme Court Cases 195, wherein it has been held as follows:

"Thus it becomes plain that the expression "sufficient cause" within the meaning of Section 5 of the Act or Order 22, Rule 9 of the Code or any other similar provision should receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice when no negligence or inaction or want of bona fides is imputable to a party. In a particular case whether explanation furnished would constitute "sufficient cause" or not will be dependent upon facts of each case."
The learned Counsel for the appellants also relies upon the decision in N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy, VII (1998) SLT 334=IV (1998) CLT 63 (SC)=( 1998) 7 Supreme Court Cases 123, wherein it has been held as follows:

"It is axiomatic that condonation of delay is a matter of discretion of the Court. Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not say that such discretion can be exercised only if the delay is within a certain limit. Length of delay is no matter, acceptability of the explanation is the only criterion. Sometimes delay of the shortest range may be uncondonable due to a want of acceptable explanation whereas in certain other cases, delay of a very long range can be condoned as the explanation thereof is satisfactory."
The learned Counsel for the appellants also relies upon the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Prasad Singh, V (2000) SLT 559=(2000) 9 Supreme Court Cases 94, wherein it has been held as follows:

"Power to condone the delay in approaching the Court has been conferred upon the Courts to enable them to do substantial justice to parties by disposing of matters on merits. This Court in Collector, Land Acquisition v. Katiji held that expression "sufficient cause" employed by the Legislature in the Limitation Act is adequately elastic to enable the Courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which subserves the ends of justice--that being the life purpose for the existence of the institution of Courts."
The learned Counsel for the appellants also relies upon the decision in M.K. Prasad v. P. Arumugam, V (2001) SLT 487=(2001) 6 Supreme Court Cases 176, wherein it has been held as follows :

"Even though the appellant appears not to be as vigilant as he ought to have been, yet his conduct does not, on the whole, warrant to castigate him as an irresponsible litigant. He should have been more vigilant but his failure to adopt such extra vigilance should not have been made a ground for ousting him from the litigation with respect to the property, concededly to be valuable. While deciding the application for setting aside the ex parte decree, the Court should have kept in mind the judgment impugned, the extent of the property involved and the stake of the parties".
Pointing out the above facts and relying upon the decisions the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that in the interests of justice the delay in filing the appeal should be condoned.

23. The learned Counsel for the respondent contends that even though the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal, Delhi was not functional at the time when the writ petition was filed by the appellants in the year 1999, Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal, Mumbai was functioning and, therefore, the appellants could have very well filed the appeal before the said Tribunal at Mumbai, He points out that instead of doing so, the appellants chose to file the writ petition before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi on 15.3.1999, that too, after the expiry of the time for filing the appeal before the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal. He further contends that the respondent-Bank had filed the reply to the writ petition setting forth the defences put forward by the Bank. He also points out that when the above said writ petition was disposed of on 20.9.2000 directing the appellants to approach this Tribunal for redressal of the grievances, the learned Counsel for the appellants had even at that time anticipated that the appellants would be faced with the question of limitation if they approached the DRAT and, therefore, the Hon'ble High Court had directed that the defendants may apply for condonation of delay, and expressed the view that they are sure that the Appellate Tribunal will taken into consideration the fact of pendency of the writ petition, while deciding the application for condonation of delay.

24. The learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank contends that in spite of the fact that the appellants knew very well that their appeal would not be within limitation, and in spite of the fact that the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi had directed that the appellant may file an application for condonation of the delay on the ground that the writ petition was pending before the Hon'ble High Court, the appellants did not choose to file the appeal immediately with an application for condonation of the delay. He contends that simply to drag on the proceedings, the appeal was filed only on 19.12.2001 with this application for condoning the delay. He contends that if really the intentions of the appellants were bona fide, and if really they wanted to prosecute the matter further, the appellants would have certainly filed the appeal immediately after the disposal of the writ petition. He further contends that the mala fides are apparent from the fact that they approached this Tribunal after a period of 15 months from the date of disposal of the writ petition. The learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank further contends that even though in the decisions cited by the learned Counsel for the appellants it has been held that the term "sufficient cause" should be liberally interpreted, and delay should be condoned in the interest of justice, it has also been held that all this is subject to the condition that the applicant for condonation of delay, and for setting aside the ex parte decree has been acting bona fide, and that such applicant is not guilty of gross negligence or deliberate inaction.

25. I agree with the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank in this respect. Even in the decision in (1988) 2 Supreme Court Cases 142 (supra) it has been held that generally delays in preferring appeals are required to be condoned in the interests of justice where no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack or bona fides is imputable to the party seeking condonation of delay. In the decision in (1998) 7 Supreme Court Cases 123 (supra) it has been held that the rules of limitation are meant to see that the parties do not resort to dilatory tactics but seek their remedy promptly. In that case the Hon'ble Supreme Court found that the conduct of the appellant before them did not warrant to castigate him as an irresponsible litigant, though he must have been more vigilant. In Ramnath Sao's case, (2002) 3 Supreme Court Cases 195 (supra) also it was held that there should be no negligence or inaction or want of bona fides imputable to the party seeking condonation of delay.

26. But, in this case on hand, we find that though the appellants knew well that their appeal before this Tribunal would not be in time, and though they had expressed their apprehension before the Hon'ble High Court also that the appellants would be faced with the question of limitation if they approach this Tribunal, the appellants had not approached this Tribunal for 15 months after the disposal of the writ petition filed by them before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi. This is in spite of the fact that the Hon'ble High Court had directed that the appellants may file an application for condonation of delay on the ground that the writ petition was pending before the Hon'ble High Court. Still, the appellants, did not take any steps to file the appeal immediately.

27. The appellants, of course, want to rely upon the letter dated 9.3.2001, by which they proposed a settlement under the one-time settlement scheme. As the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank rightly pointed out, this letter is dated 9.3.2001, and even as on the date of that letter more than 51/2 months had expired from 20.9.2000, the date of disposal of the Writ Petition. The learned Counsel for the respondent Bank contends that there is no acceptable explanation whatsoever for not having filed the appeal for such a long period. Of course, the learned Counsel for the appellants contends that this letter dated 9.3.2001 is in pursuance of a letter sent by the respondent-Bank. He even contends that subsequently on 28.3.1991, the Bank had also directed the appellants to pay a particular amount, and had not rejected the proposal of the appellants for settlement, till the appeal was presented. But, whatever it might be, as is evident from the materials, the appellants did not file the appeal immediately after the disposal of the writ petition. If they were earnest and were acting bona fide, and if they really wanted to prosecute the matter further, they would have filed the appeal immediately with the application for condoning the delay. Thereafter, they could have pursued the compromise to settle the matter. They did not do so. They have not shown as to when the respondent-Bank sent the letter, in response to which the letter dated 9.3.2001 was sent by them (appellants) proposing the settlement. Without filing the appeal immediately, the appellants now want to take advantage of this letter dated 9.3.2001 to contend that they were trying to Compromise the matter, and that the respondent-Bank had not rejected the proposal till the date of filing the appeal. But, the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank points out that even in the reply sent by the Bank it has been made clear that the proposal has been accepted subject to certain conditions mentioned therein, and without prejudice to the Bank's rights. He points out that this reply was sent on 28.3.2001. He contends that the letter dated 23.5.2001 relied upon by the appellants to show as if the talks of compromise proposal were on, is not a genuine document, and was not received by the respondent-Bank at all. He points out that even otherwise the appeal was filed in December, 2001 only, and there was

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no reason for the appellants to have waited for a further period of 7-8 months, when the compromise talks had not fructified into a final settlement. I agree with the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank in these respects, and I find that there is no acceptable ground whatsoever for the appellants not to file the appeal along with the application for condonation of delay immediately after the disposal of the writ petition. 28. I am of the view that these letters regarding settlement are not sought to be taken advantage of by the appellants to justify their inaction. But, in the circumstances pointed out above, I am of the view that the purposed attempt to settle the matter is not and cannot be a good ground for condoning the delay. This is especially so, when the appellants were fully aware that even in September, 2000 itself i.e. even when the writ petition was dismissed by the Hon'ble High Court that their appeal would face the bar of limitation, In spite of the direction by the Hon'ble High Court to file the appeal with an application for condonation of delay, the appellants have kept quiet for such a long time (till December 2001) without filing the appeal. As rightly contended by the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank, this cannot be the conduct of a bona fide litigant who wants to protect his interest by pursuing his remedies diligently. As rightly contended by the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank, the appeal has been the deliberately after a long delay with the intention to drag on the proceedings after the Recovery Officer had initiated the recovery proceedings, It is to overcome the same that the appeal has been filed in order to protract the proceedings. 29. So far as the contention of the appellants that Pawan Chopra (3rd appellant), was ill from 28.4.2001 to 20.8.2001 and, therefore, the appeal could not be filed in time, and that is also a reason which should be taken into consideration for condoning the delay is concerned, the learned Counsel for the respondent-Bank rightly points out that even the said illness of Pawan Chopra could not be a ground for condoning the delay because, there are other appellants who could have filed the appeal. Even if it was Pawan Chopra who was managing the affairs and had to file the appeal, there is no explanation whatsoever for not filing the appeal till 28.4.2001 from when only Pawan Chopra, even according to the certificate produced by him, fell ill. As pointed out already, the writ petition was disposed of on 20.9.2000, and if really the appellants were bona fide in their intention to prosecute the appeal, they would have immediately filed the appeal at least in the month of October, 2000. Without doing so, the appellants waited for nearly 15 months, and filed the appeal in December, 2001. The alleged illness of Pawan Chopra in these circumstances is also not a good ground for condonation of delay. 30. Therefore, taking into consideration all these aspects, I am of the view that the appellants have not made out the ground for condoning the delay in filing the appeal. 31. Therefore, the application fails and is dismissed. 32. Resultantly the appeal stands rejected. 33. Copy of this order be furnished to the appellants, and also to the respondent-Bank.
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