5 April 2023 3:30 AM GMT
The Gauhati High Court recently reiterated that the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has no power to condone the delay and entertain a review application beyond a period of 30 days. The division bench of The Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed:“The Tribunal shall have no power to condone the delay unless expressly conferred the power by the statute creating...
The Gauhati High Court recently reiterated that the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has no power to condone the delay and entertain a review application beyond a period of 30 days.
The division bench of The Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed:
“The Tribunal shall have no power to condone the delay unless expressly conferred the power by the statute creating it. As Rule 17 of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 expressly provides timeline of 30 days for entertaining a review application, unless the statutory provision is declared to be ultra vires such power cannot be read into the statute by a judicial pronouncement.”
The writ petition was filed by the Union of India and its components challenging the order dated June 8, 2020 passed by the CAT, Guwahati Bench (Tribunal) which dismissed the Review Application preferred by the petitioners seeking condonation of delay of 768 days in filing the Review Application through which the order dated August 8, 2017 passed in Original Application was sought to be reviewed.
The counsel appearing for Union of India, S. C. Keyal argued that the Tribunal was unjustified in rejecting the application seeking condonation of delay in filing of the Review Application by holding that there was no power with the Tribunal to condone the delay.
He placed reliance on the Full Bench judgment of the Calcutta High Court in the case of Union of India & Ors. Vs. Central Administrative Tribunal & Anr. 2002 SCC OnLine Cal 597 in which it was held that the Tribunal has the power under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 to condone the delay occasioned in filing Review Application despite the restriction contained in Rule 17 of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 (Rules of 1987).
On the other hand, Dr. G. J. Sharma, counsel appearing for the respondent submitted that the Tribunal not being a court cannot exercise the powers conferred by Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and, hence, the Tribunal was absolutely justified in rejecting the Condonation Application filed by the petitioner.
Dr. Sharma relied upon the judgements of the Supreme Court in K. Ajit Babu and Others v. Union of India and Others (1997) 6 SCC 473; Sakuru v. Tanaji (1985) 3 SCC 590; International Asset Reconstruction Company of India Limited v. Official Liquidator of Aldrich Pharmaceuticals Limited and Others (2017) 16 SCC 137; S.S. Rathore v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1989) 4 SCC 582.
The court opined:
“As the Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the case of S.S. Rathore (supra) has categorically laid down that the civil court’s jurisdiction has been taken away by the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 the view to the contrary taken by the Full Bench of the Calcutta High Court in the case of Union of India & Ors. v. Central Administrative Tribunal (supra) cannot be held as laying down a correct proposition of law.”
The Court noted that the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 being a special law prescribes for the power of condonation of delay for a period not exceeding six months to entertain the original application to be vested with the Tribunal under Sub-Section (3) of Section 21.
The court further averred that the limitation for filing a review application is 30 days as provided in Rule 17 of the Rules of 1987.
The Court held:
“Thus, the Act of 1985 lays down specific provisions with regard to limitation as well as the power for condonation thereof. Hence, the proceedings under the Act of 1985 cannot be governed by the provisions of the Limitation Act, which is a general law governing issues of limitation arising in proceedings before Courts.”
“Thus, we have no hesitation in holding that the Tribunal was justified in holding that it has no power to condone the delay and entertain the review application beyond a period of 30 days.” the Court said.
Thus, the Court dismissed the writ petition for being devoid of merit.
Case Title: The Union of India & Ors. v. Chanchal Nag
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Gau) 50
Coram: The Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Soumitra Saikia
Click Here to Read/Download Judgment