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Mukhtiar Ahmed Vs. Himat Lal Bhatt and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectLimitation
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Appeal No. 477D of 1961
Judge
Reported in4(1968)DLT306
ActsLimitation Act, 1908 - Sections 5; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908 - Sections 115
AppellantMukhtiar Ahmed
RespondentHimat Lal Bhatt and ors.
Advocates: R.S. Tandon, Adv
Excerpt:
an appeal filed from the decree of the trial court was dismissed because certified copies of the judgment and decree was nto presented on the day when the court re opened after summer vocation - an explanationn was given for the dealy, that the day was saturday as copying agency was closed at 11.30 a.m. - it was held that sufficient case was clearly made out and it was also an eminently fit case in which judicial discretion deserved to be exercised under section 5 of the limitation act - thereforee, the revision was allowed. - - the office of the lower appellate court clearly .did nto perform its duty as enjoined by law and, interalia, by chapter 14-d, volum i, high court rules and orders. in toher words, all that i he appellant had to explain was his failure to file the certified..........senior subordinate judge on 24th may, 1991, but the memorandum of appeal was nto accompanied by certified copies of the judgment and the decree. instead he had attached with it uncertified copies thereof. at the btotom of the grounds of appeal, there was a ntoe that certified copies of the judgment and decree had been applied for and would be filed as soon as received from the copying department. i am now informed that originally an application for copies was made on 24th may, 1961, but the same was returned and re presented on 29th may, 1901. but be that as it may, the fact remains that on 31st may, 1961, the learned senior subordinate judge in the presence of shri radhay shyam tandon, counsel for the appellant, and shri radhay mohan gupta, counsel for respondent no. 3, directed the.....
Judgment:

L.D. Dua, C.J.

(1) The short point which falls for determination in this case is whether the appeal presented in the Court of the learned Senior Subordinate Judge, Delhi, from the decree to the trial Court dated 22nd May, 1961 was within time and if nto, then whether sufficient ground was made out for the condensation of delay and extension of time under section 5, Indian Limitation Act. .

(2) .THE facts which are undisputed are that the decree to ba appealed ] from was made on 22nd May, 1961- According to the calculations, the appeal could have been filed on 24th June, 1961 when the lower Courts were closed for the summer vacation. An application for a certified copy of the judgment and the decree was made on 29th May, 1961. However, two days after the impugned decree, the appellant had presented the appeal in the Court of the Senior Subordinate Judge on 24th May, 1991, but the memorandum of appeal was nto accompanied by certified copies of the judgment and the decree. Instead he had attached with it uncertified copies thereof. At the btotom of the grounds of appeal, there was a ntoe that certified copies of the judgment and decree had been applied for and would be filed as soon as received from the copying department. I am now informed that originally an application for copies was made on 24th May, 1961, but the same was returned and re presented on 29th May, 1901. But be that as it may, the fact remains that on 31st May, 1961, the learned Senior Subordinate Judge in the presence of Shri Radhay Shyam Tandon, counsel for the appellant, and Shri Radhay Mohan Gupta, counsel for respondent No. 3, directed the record of the case to be Sent for and also made an order that Padam Singh, respondent No. 3, should nto take possession of the premises and the business in the meantime. This shows that the lower Appellate Court actually entertained the appeal and registered it and started proceedings for the purpose of disposing of the appeal on the merits. It is unfortunate that the learned Senior Subordinate Judge did nto pay heed to the fact that the certified copy of the decree was nto with the memorandum of appeal.The copy of the judgment could certainly be dispensed with but nto the copy of the decree against which alone the appeal lies. The office of the lower Appellate Court clearly .did nto perform its duty as enjoined by law and, interalia, by Chapter 14-D, Volum I, High Court Rules and Orders.

(3) At the final hearing of the appeal, the learned Senior Subordinate Judge dismissed it because the certified copies of the judgment and decer were presented in Court on I/th July, 1961 and nto on 15th July, 1961, when the Court reopened after the summer vacation. The Explanationn given for this delay is that 15 July, 1961 was a Saturday and when the clerk of the counsel went to the copying agency, it was too late because the office had closed at 11.30, and copies were, as a matter of practice, nto supplied after 11.30 on Satu;days. It is nto understood what was the sanction behind this practice, but certainly it cannto be described to be a matter of gross negligence on the part of the counsel or his clerk to have gone to the copying agency after 11.30 to get copies for the purpose of filings them in Court, 16th July, 1961, was a Sunday and on l7th July, 1961 the copies were actually presented in Court. On these facts, it is surprising that the learned Senior Subordinate Judge should nto have found has way to exercise his judicial discretion in favor of the appellant and should have dismissed the appeal as barred by time.

(4) Under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, the delay to be explained by the appellant is for the period after the expiry of the time fixed for presenting the appeal; in toher words, all that I he appellant had to explain was his failure to file the certified copies on l5th July 1961. 'Sufficient Cause' as contemplated by section 5, has to be considered from a practical point of view. It is true that in some decisions, the expression 'good faith' as defined in the Limitation Act has been taken into account for the purpose of construing the expression 'sufficient cause', but it may be remembered that the Legislature has, in its wisdom, nto used the words 'good faith' in section 5, but has only required 'sufficient cause' to be shewn a requirement which is flexible, intended to promtoe the cause of substantial justice. This expression undoutedly iirplies something more than 'legally sufficient' or 'sufficient according to the toher provisions of the Limitation Act.' The construction to be placed on section 5 must, in my view, be reasonably liberal so as nto to unduly penalise parties who have taken reasonable steps essential for prosecuting their appeals. After sufficient cause is shown, it is then that the question of the exercise of discretion to extend time arises.

(5) On going through the Explanationn given on behalf of the appellant, I think sufficient cause is clearly made out and it is also an eminently fit case in which Judicial discretion under section 5 deserves to be exercised in favor of the appellant and time extended. Failure on the part of the learned Senior Subordinate Judge to extend time is clearly tainted with a material irregularity in the exercise of his jurisdiction, and indeed in consequences, failure of justice has been caused by the appeal nto having been disposed of on the merits. I am nto unmindful of the fact that I am healing this matter on revision and .'decisions on applications under section 5 of the Limitation Act are usually come to, in the exercise of discretion and such discretion is ordinarily nto open to scrutiny by Courts of Appeal and revision, but this does nto mean that the discretion excicised by a Court on an application under section 5, I imitation Act, is completely immune from scrutiny by the Court of further appeal or revision, when it is found that the same is tainted with a serious infirmity resulting in grave failure of justice. In the latter case, if the infirmity is Jurisdictionl or serious enough to fall within the pur view of section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, then this Court would be nto only competent, but obliged to interfere if the ends of justice so demand The lower Appellate Court does nto seem to have adverted to all the relevant facts and has ev?n failed to ntoice that its own office had rto cared to check up the papers as it was obliged to do and did nto return the appeal without certified copies of the impugned deciee and the judgment. Even the Presiding Officer's attention does nto seem to have been drawn to this serious infumity in the initial presentation of the appeal.

(6) Had the office of the If we r appellate Court performed its duty with the requisite effcieicy and diligence and either returned the appeal or drawn the attention of the Presiding Officer to this defect, the appellant would in all prohability have felt compelled to take special steps with the copying agency for expeditious supply of the requisite copy. In ignoring this lapse on the part of its office and in placing the entire blame wholly en the appellant, the lower Appellate Court seems to have been unfair to the appellant and this has nto advanced the cause of justice.

(7) I have nto :aid any thing on this occasion about the working of the copying agency and as to whether this agency is complying with the directions if any- issued by the High Court in this respect, as no arguments have been addressed at the bar in this connection. This Court, however, quite frequertly comes across cases of inordinate delay in the matter of supply of copies which creats avoidable difficulty in the way of the litigants in seeking remedy with the requisite promptitude. The uncertainty of the time within which copies may be supplied to the litigants seeking to go up on appeal, adds as to their difficulties and the Courts must nto ignore the unsatisfactory functioning of the copying agency when considenng the question of delay in production of certified copies.

(8) In the circumstances discussed above, I am constrained to allow this revision and setting aside the judgment and decree of the lower Appellate Court and holding the appeal presented thereto be within time, I send the case back to that Court for a fresh decision of the appeal on the meiits in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above. As there is no represtntation on behalf of the respondents, there will be no order as to costs, the appellant should appear in the Ccurt below on 25th April 1968 when further steps would be taken in accordance with law.


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