Delay in Filing an Appeal Is Not an Excuse: Supreme Court

Team SoOLEGAL 21 Sep 2020 4:28pm

Delay in Filing an Appeal Is Not an Excuse: Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by Sagufa Ahmed & Ors., challenging the order of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLAT), which had dismissed the application.

The appeal got dismissed on two grounds. The first ground was that, in compliance with the Companies Act, any appeal is subject to a time limit of 45 days. The second was that even if the Supreme Court, on a suo motu move, had extended the time of appeal due to the present situation of Covid-19, the order of the Supreme Court had come only on 23 March, while the appeal was made to the NCLAT on 17 March.

A three judge bench of Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and Justices A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian pointed out “that the law of limitation finds it’s root in two Latin maxims, one of which is vigilantibus non dormientibus jura subveniunt, which means that the law will only assist those who are vigilant about their rights and not those who sleep over them.”

Last year, the appellants challenged the order of the NCLT (Guwahati Bench) before the Appellate Tribunal. However, their appeal was filed after the expiry of the statutory period for filing an appeal. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) denied the request to grant a pause. The NCLAT had dismissed the application for condonation of delay.

Advocate Gunjan Singh, on behalf of the appellants, argued that the Appellate Tribunal had erred in calculating the limitation period from the date of the order of the NCLT, contrary to Section 421(3) of the Companies Act, 2013. Also that the Appellate Tribunal had refused to take into consideration the lockdown period and the order passed by that court on 23 March 2020 in suo motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2020, extending the limitation period for the filing of any proceedings with effect from 15 March 2020.

Having considered the claims put forward by the appellants, the Supreme Court held “what was extended by the above order of this Court was only ‘the period of limitation’ and not the period up to which delay can be condoned in exercise of discretion conferred by the statute.”And that the “the order passed by this court was intended to benefit vigilant litigants who were prevented due to the pandemic and the lockdown, from initiating proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed by general or special law.”

Tagged: Supreme Court   National Company Law Tribunal   NCLAT   Companies Act   suo motu move   Chief Justice S. A. Bobde   Justice A. S. Bopanna   Justice V. Ramasubramanian   Guwahati Bench   Advocate Gunjan Singh  
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