Condonation Of Delay Is Not A Matter Of Right: NCDRC

Ayushi Rani

6 Jun 2024 3:30 AM GMT

  • Condonation Of Delay Is Not A Matter Of Right: NCDRC

    The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, presided by Mr. Subhash Chandra and Dr. Sadhna Shanker (member), held that condonation of delay cannot be claimed as a matter of right, and the applicant/petitioner must present a case showing sufficient reasons that prevented them from approaching the Court/Commission within the stipulated limitation period. Brief Facts of the Case...

    The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, presided by Mr. Subhash Chandra and Dr. Sadhna Shanker (member), held that condonation of delay cannot be claimed as a matter of right, and the applicant/petitioner must present a case showing sufficient reasons that prevented them from approaching the Court/Commission within the stipulated limitation period.

    Brief Facts of the Case

    The complainant purchased a TATA IWA Dumper from Cargo Motors Pvt. Ltd. for ₹24,61,000 for his livelihood after taking a loan from the bank and insured the Dumper with United India Insurance/insurer by paying a premium of ₹55,917. The vehicle went missing one day, and despite searching, it could not be found, leading to the filing of a complaint with the Police Station. The complainant immediately informed the insurer, submitting the FIR and a letter from Cargo Motors containing one key as part of the claim form. After providing additional documents requested by the insurer, and with no decision on the claim, the complainant approached the State Commission, which allowed the complaint and directed the insurer to pay ₹24,61,000 with 9% annual interest, ₹15,000 for harassment and ₹10,000 for costs. The insurer filed an appeal before the National Commission but with a delay of 117 days.

    Contentions of the Opposite Party

    The insurer contested the complaint and filed a written statement denying any deficiency in service or unfair trade practices. They argued that the complaint was barred by time and thus not maintainable. They stated that upon receiving the claim from the complainant, they followed standard procedures and found that the complainant provided only one key. They requested the complainant to provide the second key. The complainant then produced a letter allegedly from Tata Motors stating that only one key was issued. Upon verification, the insurer found no such letter was issued, and the transaction appeared suspicious, involving potential fraud. Consequently, they repudiated the claim according to the terms and conditions of the policy.

    Observations by the Commission

    The commission observed that the Supreme Court has held that a party who has not acted diligently or remained inactive is not entitled to condonation of delay. The commission highlighted that the Supreme Court in R.B. Ramlingam vs. R.B. Bhavaneshwari had described the test for determining whether the petitioner has acted with due diligence or not and held that in each case, the Court has to examine whether the delay in filing the appeal stands properly explained, as the true guide is whether the petitioner has acted with reasonable diligence in the prosecution of their appeal/petition. The commission observed that condonation of delay is not a matter of right, and the applicant has to set out the case showing sufficient reasons that prevented them from coming to the Court/Commission within the stipulated period of limitation. The commission highlighted the Supreme Court's decision in Ram Lal and Ors. Vs. Rewa Coalfields Limited, which held that even after sufficient cause has been shown, a party is not entitled to the condonation of delay as a matter of right, and if sufficient cause is not proved, the application for condoning delay has to be dismissed. The commission further observed that the burden is on the applicant to show that there was sufficient cause for the delay. The commission emphasized that the law of limitation may harshly affect a particular party, but it has to be applied with all its rigor when the statute so prescribes, and the court has no power to extend the limitation period on equitable grounds.

    The commission found that the justification for the condonation of delay in the instant case was only an attempt to delay the implementation of an order of the State Commission, as the insurer delayed taking a decision for a significant period.

    Case Title: United India Insurance Co Ltd. Vs. Rajesh Kumar G. Patel

    Case Number: F.A. No. 1737/2018


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