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Bansi Dhar Vs. Bajrang Lal Mahabir Pershad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSAO No. 45 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1976Delhi107; 12(1976)DLT163
ActsLimitation Act, 1963 - Sections 12
AppellantBansi Dhar
RespondentBajrang Lal Mahabir Pershad and ors.
Advocates: P.N. Bhardwaj and; H.D. Triyogi, Advs
Cases ReferredRam Lal v. Rewa Coalfields Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....or for review of a judgment, the day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed shall be excluded. chettyar, air 1928 pc 103(12), and that judicial committee has held that it meant the time properly and reasonably required and that the word 'requisite' was a strong word and it might be regarded as meaning something more than the word required ;it meant 'properly required' and it threw upon the pleader or counsel for the appellant the necessity of showing that no part of the delay beyond the prescribed period was due to his default. the explanationn to section 12 inserted in the act of 1963 makes the legal position perfectly clear and it is a..........that the period of vacation of the court from 9th june to 8th july, 1973 should be excluded as the time requisite for obtaining the certified copy and if the same were allowed then the appeal was within time. no explanationn was, however, given for each days delay subsequent to 3rd august, 1973, when the copy was ready.(3) it was also alleged in the said application that the appellant bad not been informed of the pronouncement of the impugned order by the insolvency judge on 8th june, 1973 and he had come to know about it only on 9th july, 1973. this was denied by the respondent. the learned additional district judge by the order impugned in the instant appeal held that the insolvency judge had given a date for announcement of the order as 8th june, 1973 and had announced it on the said.....
Judgment:

B.C. Misra, J.

(1) This appeal has been filed under section 75 of the Provincial Insolvency Act against the appellate order of Mr. H. K. S. Malik, Additional District Judge, Delhi dated 8th October, 1974, by which he has dismissed the appeal of the appellant herein as barred by time. The appellant in the appeal before me is the insolvent who had been adjudicated by order dated 30th September, 1967 and a first appeal against the same was dismissed on 31st July, 1969 and a revision against the same was dismissed by this court on 27th March, 1970 and a petition for special leave to appeal has also been dismissed by the Supreme Court with the result that the adjudication has become .final. The petitioning creditor moved an application against the insolvent for directions to produce the books of account. There is some dispute as to where the account books are. The contention of the insolvent has been that they had been handed over to a private receiver appointed by the Hindustani Mercantile Association, but this fact has been denied by the opposite party. The Insolvency Court had previously ordered issue of summons to the Hindustani Mercantile Association and the said receiver to produce the account books in dispute, but on the objection of the creditor, the learned Insolvency Judge by the impugned order dated 8th June, 1973 recalled the said order holding that he was of the view that it was not at all proved that the account books were in possession of the said Association or the receiver and that the insolvent was trying to throw the burden on the said association and its receiver and so the previous order was cancelled and the case was adjourned for further proceedings. Feeling aggrieved by this order, the insolvent filed an appeal before the Additional District Judge, which has been dismissed as barred by time.

(2) The facts material for the instant appeal are that the Insolvency Judge passed the impugned order on 8th June, 1973. From 9th June to 8th July, 1973 the District Courts were closed for the long vacation. On the 9th July, 1973 the appellant applied for supply of a certified copy of the impugned order of the Insolvency Judge. The certified copy was ready on 3rd August, 1973 and was delivered to the insolvent on 4th August, 1973. He, however, filed the appeal before the District Court on 20th August, 1973 after a delay of another 15 days. In the lower appellate court an application was moved under section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') for condensation of delay. The main allegation in the application was that during the vacation of the court, the copying agency was closed and so the appellant could not apply for supply of the certified copy and he had, thereforee, rightly applied for it on the reopening day. Moreover, the application had first to be routed through the court concerned since the application for certified copy related to a pending matter. The grounds on which the condensation was sought was that the period of vacation of the court from 9th June to 8th July, 1973 should be excluded as the time requisite for obtaining the certified copy and if the same were allowed then the appeal was within time. No Explanationn was, however, given for each days delay subsequent to 3rd August, 1973, when the copy was ready.

(3) It was also alleged in the said application that the appellant bad not been informed of the pronouncement of the impugned order by the Insolvency Judge on 8th June, 1973 and he had come to know about it only on 9th July, 1973. This was denied by the respondent. The learned Additional District Judge by the order impugned in the instant appeal held that the Insolvency Judge had given a date for announcement of the order as 8th June, 1973 and had announced it on the said date and, thereforee, the contention of the appellant that he had not come to know of the order till 9th July, 1973 was untenable. With regard to exclusion of the time, it was held that it was not clear whether the copying agency was actually closed, but assuming the same to be closed, he found that this time could not be excluded and the appellant had failed to explain each days delay at least from 4th August, 1973 till 20th August, 1973. The learned Judge, thereforee, declined to extend the time under section 5 and dismissed the appeal as barred by time with costs.

(4) Mr. Bhardwaj appearing to support this appeal has contended that the period of vacation of the court (which commenced immediately after the pronouncement of the judgment, viz. 9th June to 8th July, 1973) was the time requisite for the appellant to obtain the certified copy of the order of the Insolvency Judge and the same must be excluded under section 12 of the Act. His second contention is that the lower appellate court ought to have condoned the delay in the circumstances of the case.

(5) I have heard the counsel for the parties. In this appeal I am, however, not deciding the point whether against the order of the lower appellate court a revision or a second appeal under section 75 of the Provincial Insolvency Act is competent, since no such objection has been raised by the respondent. Mr. Bhardwaj in support of his contention has relied upon an impressive number of authorities. They are: Pikesar Nath Tewari v. Janakdeo Nath TewarL : AIR1934Pat4 (1), (which has followed Debi Charan Lal v. Mehdi Hussain, Air 1916 Pat 317(2), and Mushi Mahaton v. Lachman Lal, Air 1929 Patna 615 (3), Lalta Prasad v. Shyammohan Laxminarayan, : AIR1961MP244 , Kashibai v. Kannoo, Air 1915 Nag 117(5), Amar Chand v. Bach Raj, , Abdul Ghaffor v. Mt. Rasulunnis, Air 1922 Oudh 39(7), and Sri Chandan Bhuva v. Haroo Sethi, 11 Ind. Cases 387(8). The learned counsel has submitted that a contrary view has been taken by the High Court of Madras in Subramanyan v. Naraimhan. Air 1920 Mad 359(9), and the High Court of Allahabad in Puttu Lal v. Bhagwan Dass, : AIR1938All106 . He has further submitted that a liberal construction should be placed on the provisions of section 12 of the Limitation Act so as to advance justice and to hold the appeal to be within time rather than shut out the appellant from the court.

(6) The reasoning adopted in the decisions relied upon by Mr. Bhardwaj is that during the period of vacation, the appellant could not apply for supply of certified copy for circumstances beyond his control and so the period of vacation is to be reckoned in the time properly required for obtaining the certified copy and the same would constitute the time requisite within the meaning of section 12(2) of the Act.

(7) With utmost reluctance and with greatest respect which I owe to the weight of the authorities cited on behalf of the appellant, I find myself unable to agree with them. Section 12 occurs in Part Iii of the Act dealing with computation of period of limitation. Subsection (1) provides that the day from which such period is to be reckoned shall be excluded. Sub-section (2) reads as follows : '(2) In computing the period of limitation for an appeal or an application for leave to appeal or for revision or for review of a judgment, the day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed shall be excluded.' Explanationn to this section reads as follows: 'In computing under this section the time requisite for obtraining a copy of a decree or an order, any time taken by the Court to prepare the decree or order before an application for a copy thereof is made shall not be excluded.' The expression 'time requisite' has been considered by the Privy Council in Pramatha Nath Roy v. William Arthur Lee, Air 1922 PC352(11), and Jijibhoy N. Surty v. T. S. Chettyar, Air 1928 Pc 103(12), and that Judicial Committee has held that it meant the time properly and reasonably required and that the word 'requisite' was a strong word and it might be regarded as meaning something more than the word required ; it meant 'properly required' and it threw upon the pleader or counsel for the appellant the necessity of showing that no part of the delay beyond the prescribed period was due to his default. In my opinion, this has reference only to the time that is to begin on and after the making of the application for supply of certified copy until it is obtained and it does not have any reference to the passage of time prior to the moving of the application for copy. In Bechi v. Ahsan-Ullah Khan Air 12 All 461(13), a. Full Bench of the High Court held that time requisite for obtaining copy did not begin to run until the application had been made. This authority has been largely followed. The Explanationn to section 12 inserted in the Act of 1963 makes the legal position perfectly clear and it is a legislative recognition of the rule that the time consumed even by the court in preparing the decree or order before the application for its copy is made is not to be excluded as time requisite under section 12 of the Act.

(8) In Jagat Dhish Bhargava v. Jawahar Lal Bhargava, : [1961]2SCR918 , the Supereme Court was faced with the construction of the expression 'time requisite' and the maintainability of the appeal, where the court of first instance had not prepared the decree. The Supreme Court observed in paragraph 9 of the report as follows : 'Where a decree is not drawn up immediately or soon after a judgment is pronounced, two types of cases may arise. A litigant feeling aggrieved by the decision may apply for the certified copy of the judgment and decree before the decree is drawn up, or he may apply for the said decree after it is drawn up. In the former case, where the litigant, has done all that he could and has made a proper application for obtaining the necessary copies, the time requisite for obtaining the copies must necessarily include not only the time taken for the actual supply of the certified copy of the decree but also for the drawing up of the decree itself. In other words, the time taken by the office or the Court in drawing up a decree after a litigant has applied for its certified copy on judgment being pronounced, would be treated as a part of the time taken for obtaining the certified copy of the said decree.'

(9) With regard to the second case where an application for certified copy has been made after the decree, the Supreme Court noticed in paragraph 10 of the report that there was sharp difference of opinion amongst the High Courts ; Bombay, Calcutta and Patna High Courts had taken the view that the said period would constitute a part of the requisite period, while the other High Courts had taken a contrary view. Although the conflict was noticed, the Supreme Court found that it was not necessary to resolve the same in the case in its hand. The conflict in my opinion, appears to have been resolved by the insertion of the Explanationn to section 12. Now the time occurring before the making of the application cannot possibly constitute as time requisite under section 12. In sections 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the Act, the expression occurring is exclusion of time. Suppose the period of limitation for filing an appeal is 30 days and a time of 20 days is spent in obtaining the certified copy, then the party will have, in fact, 50 days time to file the appeal and the period of limitation is actually extended. This is not true of the vacation which does not have the effect of extending the period of limitation, but only allows an act to be performed an reopening after the vacation. Section 4 of the Limitation Act prescribes that where the prescribed period... expires on a day when the court is closed, (the matter) may be instituted on the day when the court reopens. Section 10 of the General Clauses Act also makes a provision enabling the parties to take steps which they are required to take during the prescribed period on the reopening of the court and office in case the last date of the period expired when the court or office was closed. The Supreme Court in (H. H. Raja) Harinder Singh v. Karnail Singh, : [1957]1SCR208 , held that this was an enabling provision to enable the parties not to suffer for an act of the court and to do a thing which the law requires it to be done within a prescribed time when it is really possible to do on the reopening of the court. thereforee, in my opinion, neither section 4 of the Limitation Act nor section 10 of the General Clauses Act has the effect of extending the period of limitation. It is only an enabling provision which entitles the party to do on the reopening of the court what it was required to do at a time when the court was in vacation. For example, the period of limitation for filing an appeal expires on 30th June and the court be on vacation till 14th July, then if the appeal were filed on 15th July on the reopening day, it would be in time according to section 4 of the Act; Supposing it were filed on 16th July, then the delay in filing the appeal will be not only of one day but will consist of 15 days. The reason is that period of vacation is unlike provision in Chapter Iii of the Act not excluded from the period of limitation, but it only enables the party to tide over the period of vacation and perform the requisite act on the reopening day of the court.

(10) The High Courts which have taken the view to include, the vacation during the requisite period have recognised the force of Bechi v. Ahsan-Ullah Khan (supra) to the effect that time requisite for obtaining a copy did not begin to run until the application had been made. But they have carved out an exception to the said general rule on the ground that during the period of vacation, the party could not move the application. In my opinion, there is no scope for engrafting any exceptions to the rules under the Act on the basis of any analogy, hardship or necessary implication. The Limitation Act is an amending and consolidated Act and provides for all the contingencies it deals. An interesting instance occurs in setcion 15 of the Act. This provision deals with exclusion of the period of limitation during the period institution of any suit or execution of a decree has been stayed by injunction or order. This had reference to the orders of the court but the principles underlying the said provision had been extended by the High Courts to various situations where it was impossible for the party to institute the suit or application for execution, particularly when the same had been stayed by the statute (see Managing Committee Sunder Singri Malha Sirigh Rajput High School Indaura v. Sunder Singh Malha S:ngh Sanatan Dharam Rajput High School Trust, Air 1944 Lah 190) (16). The Supreme Court in A.S.K Krishnappa Chettiar v. S.V.V. Soiah, Air 1964 Sc 277(17), strongly set its foot on the extension of the said principles. The court observed in paragraph 13 of the report that the Limitation Act was a consolidating and amending statute relating to the limitation of suits, appeals and certain types of applications to the court and it is a piece of adjective or procedural law and not of substantive law and it could be applied only to matters to which they were made applicable by the legislature expressly or by necessary implication. The court further observed that the provisions of sections 3 to 28 of the Act did not adumbrate any general principles of substantive law nor did they confer any substantive rights on litigants and, thereforee, could not be permitted to have greater application than what was explicit or implicit in them and the suspension of limitation in circumstances of the kind obtaining in the appeals before the Supreme Court was neither explicit nor implicit and so contrary view of the High Courts, in particular Badruddin Khan v. Mahyar Khan, : AIR1939All66 , and Managing Committee Sunder Singh Malha Singh Rajput High School (supra), was overruled.

(11) In view of the said observations of the Supreme Court, it is impossible to accept the argument of the learned counsel based on the hardship of impracticability of applying for certified copy during the vacantion and the redy giving the benefit to the said period as a time requisite under section 12 of the Act. I may also mention that under section 12 of the Act, the party is as of right entitled to the exclusion of the time and it is not left to the discretion of the court whether or not be grant the same, but nothing that happens before the making of the application for certified copy (subsequent to the passing of the order) can really constitute time requisite under section 12 and the contention of the learned counsel must, thereforee, fail and is rejected.

(12) The last submission of the learned counsel is that the court below ought to have condoned the delay in the instant case. In my opinion, the only effect of the vacation was that application for copy filed on the reopening day of the court on 9th July, 1973 was in order and if he had filed the appeal on 4th August, 1973 as soon as he had obtained the copy, the appeal would have to be treated as filed in time. But he delayed its filing till 20th August, 1973. The court below has held that no Explanationn has been given for each day's delay. The learned counsel has failed to satisfy me that he has given any reasonable Explanationn. He has insisted upon his right and be was under the impression that the appeal was within time. This certainly does not constitute a sufficient ground for condensation of delay. Moreover, the matter rested in the discretion of the court below. It was held in Ram Lal v. Rewa Coalfields Ltd., : [1962]2SCR762 , that after the appellant has explained each day's delay, the matter rested in the discretion of the court whether or not to condone the delay. The court below has refused to condone the delay and no ground has been made out for interfering with its order.

(13) Do not find any sufficient ground to interfere with the impugned order and dismiss the appeal with half the costs in the circumstances of the case.


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