Confusion about working and non-working days cannot save limitation to file a suit: SC

Confusion about working and non-working days cannot save limitation to file a suit: SC

Confusion about working and non-working days cannot save limitation to file a suit, the Apex Court has observed while allowing an appeal (AJAY GUPTA VS. RAJU @ RAJENDRA SINGH YADAV) against an ‘interesting’ High Court judgment on limitation.

In the instant case, the last date for filing the suit was 31.12.2010, the last day of winter vacation for court. 01.01.2011 was a Saturday and the High Court has upheld a trial court order which held that a Suit which was filed on 03.01.2011 is within limitation.

The High Court judgment reads as follows “Learned trial court has vide impugned order, disposed the application filed under Order 7 Rule 11 by the defendant on the ground that 01.01.2011 was non-working Saturday, therefore the Suit was filed on 03.01.2011 is within limitation. Although, there is no bar for filing of Suit on non-working Saturday but if the Suit is not filed on non-working Saturday under the assumption that it is non-working Saturday then the mistake of non-filing is a bonafide mistake, so the mistake is taken as bonafide mistake.”

The Apex Court bench comprising of Justices Kurian Joseph and R.F. Nariman termed this judgment by High Court “an interesting reading on reasoning “ and said : “It is not in dispute that the last date for filing the suit was 31.12.2010, the last day of winter vacation for court. 01.01.2011 was a Saturday, and even according to the High Court, it is non-working Saturday for the Judges for enabling them to write judgments and regular hearing of cases is not heard on a non-working Saturday. Obviously, it was not a holiday for the Registry and there is no question of any confusion, though such confusion also cannot save limitation to file a suit. Section 4 of The Limitation Act, 1963), dealing with “Expiry of prescribed period when court is closed”, no doubt, applies to suits as well, and in case the prescribed period for any suit, appeal or application expires on a day when the court is closed, the suit, appeal or application may be instituted, preferred or made on the day when the court reopens.”

Observing that both the Trial court and High Court has gone ‘gravely wrong’, the bench said “There is no case for anybody that even for part of the day, the Registry was closed. But Section 5 of the Act which deals with “Extension of prescribed period in certain cases”, applies only to appeals or applications and not to suits. Therefore, no court or tribunal can extend the period of limitation for filing a suit. Even if any cause, beyond the control of the plaintiff is shown also, the only extension is what is permitted under Section 4 of the Act, the period coming under court holiday.”

Read the Judgment here.