M. Anantanarayanan, O.C.J.
1. The question involved in this revision proceeding relates to the proper application of Section 5 of the Limitation Act to certain facts. I may immediately state that the respondent, Sri Sivagami Sundari Sri Chidambara Swami Devasthanam, Sattur, which succeeded in obtaining the admission of an appeal filed well beyond time, has sought to advance the contention that the question of excusing the delay in such a matter, and the question whether sufficient cause existed for excusing the deley, were essentially within the discretion of the Court concerned. This is on the authority of M. Ratnalingam v. Koteswara Rao : (1949)1MLJ144 . But unfortunately for the respondent, it is the Court below (Court of the learned District Judge, Tirunelveli) which explicitly finds, not merely that there was considerable delay in filing the appeal, about 75 days on the admission of the respondent institution itself, but also that there was negligence.
2. I may quote the very words of the learned District Judge embodying his conclusions:
A perusal of the evidence and also the affidavit filed in support of this petition shows that there was negligence on the part of the Executive Officer in not only obtaining copies of the judgment and decree but also in obtaining sanction from the Commissioner. Whatever that be gross negligence by individuals should not be taken into serious consideration in a case of this kind, where the appellant is an institution.
The learned Judge then proceeded to condone the delay under Section 5 on payment of certain costs.
3. It appears to me to be clear, therefore, that the finding of fact of the learned Judge is that there was gross negligence on the part of the respondent-institution, though no doubt the negligence was actually due to the Executive Officer of the institution, in regard to the matter of the appeal. When there is this finding, it would certainly be erroneous application of Section 5 to condone the delay, and that is indisputable. As a question of law, I am afraid that the learned Judge has misdirected himself in thinking that the fact that the party is an institution or a corporate body, and not an individual, makes any essential difference.
4. Sri Ratnam for the revision petitioner draws my attention to two authorities. In one of them, District Board, Sargodha v. Shamas Din 123 Ind.Cas. 83, Tekchand, J., observed that he could not accept the argument that a corporate body was entitled to greater indulgence in such a matter, than a private individual ;
If a District Board chooses to embark on litigation, its officials and advisers must act with at least as much diligence as is expected from an ordinary litigant.
5. In Union of India v. Kanwar , a Division Bench of that Court held (at page 369) that the law of limitation operated equally for or against a private individual as also the Government, and that ' no special indulgence can be shown to the Government which, in similar circumstances is not to be shown to an individual suitor'. The learned Judges have proceeded to observe that delays in the Government offices were no justification for invoking the power of the Court under Section 5.
6. In the light of these principles, I am constrained to allow the Civil Revision-Petition, and set aside the order in the interlocutory application admitting the unregistered appeal. It follows that the decree against the Devasthanam becomes final.
7. But I may add that since the revision petitioner, who is a private party, has a decree both against the Devasthanam and the Executive Officer who was primarily responsible for the claim which was the basis of the suit, it is only equitable that the revision petitioner should first proceed by way of execution of the decree against the individual; it is only if this fails, that the Devasthanam will be liable as co-judgment-debtor. The parties will bear their own costs.