Some Leeway To Condone Delay In Cases Of Govt Cannot Be Construed As Absolute License To Flout Law: Himachal Pradesh High Court
Dismissing an application seeking condonation of delay filed by the Himachal Pradesh government, the High Court on Friday observed that the law has equal balance for all and though some leeway is permissible in the case of government but that cannot be construed as an absolute license to flout the law at whims.
The application was filed alongside an appeal in terms of which the Government had assailed an award passed by a Reference court. The State attributed the delay to the time consumed in obtaining the certified copy of the award and certain other official formalities as the appeal had to be vetted by multiple authorities.
After closely examining the record, Justice Satyen Vaidya observed that there is absolutely no explanation whatsoever for not filing the appeal, immediately when the State had received the certified copies.
"There is no doubt that the conduct of applicants has throughout been reckless and negligent in dealing with the matters having serious repercussion. The entire approach of applicants, without any doubt, can be stated to be lackadaisical", Justice Vaidya observed.
Observing that the condonation of delay in filing the appeal can be allowed only if the Court is satisfied that the delay has been caused by sufficient reasons and such reasons are bonafide, the court pointed that in the given facts of the case, the applicants have failed to show any cause much less sufficient cause for not filing the appeal within prescribed period of limitation.
"The applicants took about six months for preparation and vetting of the appeals after receipt of certified copy of the award. It cannot be assumed that the applicants, who are assisted by legal experts at every stage, were not aware about the period of limitation for filing the appeals", the court recorded.
Highlighting the rigors of Limitation Act that apply equally to all including the Government, Justice Vaidya observed that the sufficiency of a cause for condonation of delay can be assessed keeping in view the facts and circumstances of each particular case. Applicants have not been able to assign any reasons whatsoever for delay in filing the appeal specially after the certified copy of the award was obtained and undue laxity of government officials needs strongest deprecation, the court underscored.
Rejecting the argument of the appellant that provisions of Section 5 of Limitation Act be interpreted liberally and the delay caused in filing the appeals be condoned, the court said that liberal interpretation does not mean that the party can be allowed to approach the Court at any time without showing any cause, which can be termed to be sufficient.
Elaborating as to what can be said to be a sufficient cause, the bench found it worthwhile to record the observations of supreme court in Brahampal Alias Sammy and Another Vs. National Insurance Company, 2021, wherein SC held,
"The concept of reasonableness dictates that, the Courts even while taking a liberal approach must weigh in the rights and obligations of both the parties. When a right has accrued in favour of one party due to gross negligence and lackadaisical attitude of the other, this Court shall refrain from exercising the aforesaid discretionary relief.”
Accordingly, there is no merit in the applications and the same are dismissed, the bench concluded.
Case Title: State of HP Vs Kansi Ram
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (HP) 17