2 Feb 2022 7:30 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has said that it is the duty of the applicant seeking relief under Section 5 of the Limitation Act to explain the delay for every day that elapses beyond the period allowed by the Act. In the absence of sufficient cause, the Court of the Authority has no power to extend the time. Justice Jyoti Mulimani said, "I can say only this much that the law of limitation...
The Karnataka High Court has said that it is the duty of the applicant seeking relief under Section 5 of the Limitation Act to explain the delay for every day that elapses beyond the period allowed by the Act. In the absence of sufficient cause, the Court of the Authority has no power to extend the time.
Justice Jyoti Mulimani said,
"I can say only this much that the law of limitation is not an equitable statute. It is a statute of repose."
The court accordingly rejected a petition filed by one Surrayya Parveen challenging the order passed by the Labour Officer, rejecting her claim petition on the ground of delay of 8 years.
The petitioner was working in M/s.R.S.Nursing Home from June 1994 as Aya till 02.03.2008. But the respondents refused the service of the petitioner w.e.f. 02.03.2008 onwards. It is averred that during the course of her employment, she was paid less wages than the minimum wages fixed to the category post of Aya. When queried, the Officials of Nursing Home used to give verbal assurance of payment. It is said that even after refusal of her employment, they went on giving false assurance but did not pay any amount.
In her claim petition the petitioner sought a direction to the Nursing Home, to pay the difference amount of Rs.1,28,648.52 and also 10 times penalty. Section 5 of the Limitation Act was also filed for condonation of delay.
The same was dismissed by the Labour Officer. Hence, this petition was filed.
Advocate Javeed.S appearing for the petitioner submitted that the respondent gave false assurance of payment of difference of wages. The petitioner believed the assurance. Hence there is a delay. Accordingly, the petitioner contended that the delay may be condoned.
Authority opposed the plea
Advocate Shivananda for the authority argued that as per proviso to Section 20 (2) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, a claim application shall be made within six months from the date on which the minimum wages (or other amount) became payable. But in the present case, the application is filed after 8 years. Further, it was said the petitioner has failed to show the sufficient cause to condone the delay.
Nursing Home opposed the plea:
Advocate Raghuveer appearing for the respondent submitted that the reason accorded by the petitioner to condone the delay is the alleged assurance of payment. It is submitted that the same is not true. The Apex Court in number of cases has held that each day's delay has to be explained by showing sufficient cause.
Firstly the court explained the underlying principles in considering the application made under section 5 of the Limitation Act.
It said, "Section 5 of the Limitation Act is a statutory, beneficial provision, intended to mitigate the hardship of a suitor from rigorous of limitation, because the party may have a justifiable reason for not approaching the Court on time."
Further it said, "Section 5 enables the Court to admit an appeal or an application after the expiry of the prescribed period on sufficient cause being shown for the delay. Section 5 provides that an appeal may be admitted after the limitation period has expired, if the appellant satisfies the Court that there was sufficient cause for delay. The expression 'sufficient cause' employed by the legislature is adequately elastic to enable the Courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which sub serves the ends of justice. The matter has to be dealt with in a rational common sense pragmatic manner and justice."
"Since sufficient cause has not been defined, the Courts are left to exercise discretion to conclude whether circumstances exist establishing sufficient cause. The only guiding principle to be seen is whether a party has acted with reasonable diligence and had not been negligent and callous in the presentation of the matter. The entire gamut of facts is to be carefully scrutinized and the approach should be based on the paradigm of judicial discretion which is founded on objective reasoning and not on individual perception."
It also observed, "The law is well settled that delay cannot be excused as a matter of 'judicial generosity' in any special case. An order extending time should give sufficient indication that the discretion given by the law has been judicially exercised. The law is also well settled that an order excusing delay is not final and is liable to be questioned at a later stage. But an Appellate Court will not ordinarily interfere with the discretion exercised by the Court below. But the differentiating factor is whether the exercise of discretionary power is just and proper."
The court then went through the case details and on considering the submission that the reason for the delay is the false assurance given by the respondent, said, "I am unable to accept the said contention."
"The reason to enlarge time must be so detailed as to let the Court or the Authority concerned see the nature of the reason and the circumstances under which it arose. The applicant who seeks the indulgence of the Court under Section 5 must act with utmost good faith and make a full disclosure of all the relevant facts."
The court also referred to Section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act which mandates the application be made within six months from the date on which the minimum wages is payable.
It held, "According to the petitioner, the amount became payable with effect from 01.04.2000. However, she approached the Authority in 2008. In my view, the petitioner has failed to discharge the onus to explain the delay and hence, the Authority - the first respondent is justified in dismissing the application."
Case Title: Surrayya Parveen @ Annapoorna v. Labour Officer Cum Minimum Wages Enquiry Authority
Case No: Writ Petition No.1492 OF 2012
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 36
Date of Order: 12th Day Of January, 2022
Appearance: Advocate Javeed S for petitioner; Advocate Shivananda D.S FOR R1; Advocate Raghuveer a/w advocate Ananya Y.V for R2
Click Here To Read/Download Order