‘No Explanation’: Supreme Court Sets Aside HC Order Condoning Delay of 1011 Days in Filing Second Appeal

Team SoOLEGAL 21 Dec 2021 3:19pm

‘No Explanation’: Supreme Court Sets Aside HC Order Condoning Delay of 1011 Days in Filing Second Appeal

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India has thrown aside a High Court Judgment excusing a massive delay of 1011 days in preferring a second appeal in a matter where no appropriate or suitable explanation has been offered, while remarking that the High Court has not exercised its power judiciously.

A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna issued the instructions in a civil appeal against a judgment of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh excusing the present defendants’ 1011 – day delay in filing the second appeal.

While noting that no explanation, let alone a sufficient or satisfactory explanation, had been provided by the party before the High Court, the bench concluded that the High Court was not justified in exercising its discretion to excuse such a lengthy delay and had not exercised the discretion judiciously.

The bench stated that the High Court erred in allowing the delay, and the explanation offered by the High Court in accepting the massive delay of 1011 days is irrelevant. The High Court noted in the assailed ruling that there was neither deliberate negligence on the side of the party, nor was there a lack of due diligence. Furthermore, if the delay is tolerated, no prejudice will be given to the opposing party because the appeal will be heard on the merits.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that the party (herein respondents) committed gross negligence and/or a lack of due diligence by bringing such a late appeal. The Second appeal was filed against the ruling of the first appellate court dated February 1st, 2017 approving the current appellant’s complaint and quashing and setting aside the trial Court’s decree.

The bench concluded that there is insufficient justification for the time from March 15th, 2017, until the filing of the Second appeal in 2021. Referring to the respondent’s health difficulties between January and March of 2017, the bench stated that there is still no justification for the delay beyond March 15th, 2017.

In this context, the bench also considered prior Supreme Court of India Decisions. The bench stated that in the matter of ‘Basawaraj and Anr. V. Special Land Acquisition Officer’, the Supreme Court observed and ruled that the discretion to excuse the delay must be applied prudently based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Furthermore, in the matter of ‘Pundlik Jalam Patil V. Execution Engineer, Jalgaon Medium Project’, this court stated that on the basis of equity, the court cannot inquire into belated and stale claims. Delay thwarts equality.

The bench also considered its decision in the matter of ‘P.K. Ramachandran V. State of Kerla and Anr.’, where it was remarked that in the absence of a fair, sufficient, or even suitable rationale for requesting condo nation of delay, the same is not to be tolerated lightly. It was also noted that while the rule of limitation may be harsh on a specific party, it must be administered with zeal when the laws so requires, and the courts have no jurisdiction to prolong the term of limitation on equitable grounds.

As a result, the Court has granted the current appeal and reversed and cancelled the impugned ruling dated September 16th, 2021 issued by the High Court, which excused respondent Nos.1 and 2’s delay of 1011 days in filing the second appeal.

Tagged: Supreme Court   High Court   Justice MR Shah   Justice BV Nagarathna  
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