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Law Of Limitation Gives No Extra Time To Govt Bodies: NCDRC [Read Order]

The law of limitation does not permit any extra time for government functionaries that must complete the administrative procedure of seeking approvals for legal matters within the limitation period, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has held.

The NCDRC said so while taking a strict view of the delay of over 233 days caused by Air India in filing appeal against ex parte interlocutory orders of the State Commission, where also it had failed to make an appearance, despite being duly served.

“It is true that the appellant (Air India) is a huge organisation and may have to follow certain administrative procedures for obtaining approvals etc., but all this exercise has to be completed within the period of limitation prescribed in the Act, which does not permit any extra/additional time for the public authorities/ corporations, like the appellant herein,” said a bench of Justice DK Jain and M Shreesha while declining to condone the delay.

In the instant case, Air India had approached the NCDRC in appeal against the May 6, 2016, order of the State Commission by which Air India was decided to be proceeded against ex parte in a complaint filed by a former employee of the airliner.

The employee, Subhash Kashinath, had approached the state commission stating that Air India had floated a scheme to sell different types of flats to its employees in Navi Mumbai, as announced in 2005.

Kashinath had superannuated from the service on June 30, 2006. He had applied for a flat under the said scheme and was allotted a Type-B flat by the appellant.

Kashinath said he was restrained from taking possession of the said flat since Air India did not accept the balance payment. He approached the consumer forum alleging deficiency in service and unfair trade practices on part of Air India.

The NCDRC, while hearing the appeal, noticed that Air India’s submission of delay of 233 days, for which it had sought condonation, was factually incorrect.

“…it is evident that on 05.04.2016, while admitting the complaint and posting the matter to 06.05.2016, the state commission had issued notice to the opposite parties.  Admittedly, the said notice had been received by an officer of the Appellant but it remained unrepresented before the state commission on the said date, when the state commission proceeded ex parte against the opposite parties. We fail to fathom any reason, why the appellant took over four months in obtaining a copy of the impugned order, on 16.09.2016, and consequently there would be much more delay than what has been reported by the office,” the apex consumer forum noted.

“The present appeal is barred by limitation by almost one year and the application, seeking condonation thereof, is conspicuously silent with respect to date-wise developments taking place in the matter, and therefore, it is not possible to identify the delinquent officer, who was not even aware of the period of limitation.  In the absence of the said details, it can safely be inferred that even after receipt of the notice, issued by the state commission on 05.04.2016, and on receipt of a copy of the impugned order on 16.09.2016, the appellant did not show any sense of seriousness in pursuing the matter expeditiously to ensure that the appeal was filed within time. Such casual and lackadaisical attitude on the part of the government functionaries has been deprecated by the Supreme Court…,” it added.

Read the Order Here

                         

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