12 Aug 2022 4:46 AM GMT
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently ruled that the expression "sufficient cause" under Sec 5 of Limitation Act has to be given liberal construction and the Courts while considering the delay in filing appeal have to avoid technicalities so that merit is preferred and scuttling of decision on merits is avoided. The bench comprising Justice Sanjay Dhar was hearing a...
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently ruled that the expression "sufficient cause" under Sec 5 of Limitation Act has to be given liberal construction and the Courts while considering the delay in filing appeal have to avoid technicalities so that merit is preferred and scuttling of decision on merits is avoided.
The bench comprising Justice Sanjay Dhar was hearing a plea in terms of which the petitioners had thrown challenge to an order passed by learned Additional Sessions Judge, Srinagar, whereby, delay in filing the appeal against the judgment and order passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar has been condoned.
The petitioners in their plea submitted that petitioners that delay in filing an appeal on account of administrative reasons is not a sufficient cause within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. It is further contended that even after the grant of sanction for filing of the appeal , it took almost one year for the respondent to file the appeal and the delay in this regard has remained unexplained.
The petitioners further contended that after the devastating floods of September 2014 in J&K the functioning in all the Courts including the High Court resumed in the month of October 2014 , as such there was no reason for the respondent to file the appeal such, there was no belatedly .
The petitioners also argued that there is no explanation tendered by the respondent as to why it took seven months to issue 2nd sanction order in favour of the Public Prosecutor and there is no explanation for the delay in filing the appeal after the grant of 2nd sanction order on 19.02.2016.
Adjudicating upon the matter Justice Dhar observed that Section 5 provides that an appeal may be admitted after the prescribed period of limitation if the appellant satisfies the Court that he had a sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal within such period. The expression "sufficient cause" used in the provision must receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice and unless there is gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bonafides attributable to the parties seeking condonation of delay, such a prayer should not be declined, the bench underscored.
Discussing the matter further the bench explained that It is correct that law of limitation binds everybody including the Government but certain amount of leniency and leeway has been given by the Courts in the matter of condoning of delay when the party seeking condonation of delay happens to be a Government Department.
"This is so, because of the peculiar functioning of Government departments where files move from one table to another and the decision making by very nature of the functioning of the bureaucracy takes a long time", the court noted.
In order to buttress the said position of law the bench found it worthwhile to record the observations of supreme court in Special Tehsildar Land Acquisition, Keral v. K. V. Ayisumma, (1996) wherein SC observed
"It is true that Section 5 of the Limitation Act envisages explanation of the delay to the satisfaction of the Court and in matters of Limitation Act made no distinction between the State and the citizen. Nonetheless adoption of strict standard of proof leads to grave miscarriage of public justice, it would result in public mischief by skillful management of delay in the process of filing the appeal. The approach of the Court would be pragmatic but not pedandic"
Justice Dhar further observed that the Courts have to adopt a justice-oriented approach, particularly while dealing with the cases where delay is sought to be condoned at the instance of Government functionaries. The Courts have to be guided by spirit and philosophy that State represents collective cause of the community and cannot be equated with an ordinary litigant.
Unless there is gross negligent approach of the Government functionaries in dealing with a matter, the Courts would lean in favour of condoning the delay without insisting upon explanation of each day's delay, the bench concluded while dismissing the plea.
Case Title : Dr Lahoot Hassan & Ors Vs SHO Vigilance Organization Kashmir
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw ( JKL) 97
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment