“Exercise Judiciously”: Supreme Court On Discretion To Condone Delay In Cases

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The discretion to condone the delay in filing suits has to be exercised judiciously and if courts start condoning delay where no sufficient cause is made out, then that would amount to a violation of statutory principles and showing utter disregard to the legislature, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said the object for fixing the time limit for litigation is based on public policy fixing a lifespan for legal remedy for the purpose of the general welfare. The object of the time limit is meant to see that the parties do not resort to dilatory tactics but avail their legal remedies promptly, it said.

“The discretion to condone the delay has to be exercised judiciously based on facts and circumstances of each case. It is further observed that the expression ‘sufficient cause’ cannot be liberally interpreted if negligence, inaction or lack of bona fides is attributed to the party.

“It is further observed that even though limitation may harshly affect rights of a party but it has to be applied with all its rigour when prescribed by statute,” the bench said in a recent order.

Condonation of delay is usually applied for the delay in filing suits or applications in the courts across the country.

Each statute gives a time limit within which any suit, appeal or application is to be filed under them to the courts or respective authorities. The time limit prescribed is known as the limitation period of the suit or appeal.

The top court observed that in case a party has acted with negligence, lack of bona fides or there is inaction then there cannot be any justified ground for condoning the delay even by imposing conditions. “It is observed that each application for condonation of delay has to be decided within the framework laid down by this court.

“It is further observed that if courts start condoning delay where no sufficient cause is made out by imposing conditions then that would amount to a violation of statutory principles and showing utter disregard to the legislature,” the bench said.

The observations came on an appeal filed against an order of Andhra Pradesh high court has condoned a huge delay of 1011 days in preferring the second appeal.

The top court quashed this judgement and said the high court is not at all justified in exercising its discretion to condone such a huge delay.

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