Court– Supreme Court of India
Judgment Name – Dr. A Suresh Kumar & Ors v. Amit Agarwal (Civil Appeal No. 988 of 2021)
Judgment date – 08 July 2021
Coram– Hon’ble J. Vineet Sharan, Hon’ble J. Dinesh Maheshwari
Introduction – The term “condonation of delay” refers to the act of allowing a court to overlook a delay in submitting an appeal or application. Each statute establishes a deadline for filing any complaint, appeal, or application with the courts/respective authorities. The limitation period of the litigation or appeal is the time restriction set by the court. The condonation of delay is addressed under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963. It states that the court can accept any appeal or application filed after the limitation period provided the appellant or applicant demonstrates that he has good reason for not filing the appeal or application within the time restriction. The Limitation Act does not define the word “sufficient cause.” It changes depending on the circumstances.
Brief facts of the Case -The respondent has filed a lawsuit against the appellants for medical negligence. The appellants filed their reply with a 7-day delay, exceeding the 30-plus-15-day timeframe (45 days). The NCDRC (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission) had rejected the application for condonation of the delay in filing the said written judgment. It relied on the judgment of New India Assurance Company Limited v Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Private Limited ,(2020) 5 SCC 757 which ruled that the delay beyond a maximum of 45 days (30+15 days) can’t be condoned by the Commission. The appellants moved to the Apex Court.
Principle Issue– The main issue before the court was to appreciate the ruling of the case of New India Assurance Company Limited where the Court directed that the NCDRC cannot condone a delay in written reply beyond the period of 45 days.
Appreciating the above judgment, the court observed that paragraph 63 of the ruling also specified that the said judgment would be applied prospectively.
In this case, the corum observed that the said application was filed prior to the Constitution Bench judgment in the case of New India Assurance company Limited which was the basis of the impugned judgment. In addition to that, the application could have been considered on the basis of merits and should not have been rejected on the grounds of the cited judgment.
The court also mentioned that since the delay was for a very short period i.e., seven days for which a valid explanation had been given, the written statement must be accepted by the NCDRC.
Judgment– The Apex Court set aside the impugned judgment and condoned the delay of 7 days in filing the reply by the appellants before the Commission of NCDRC on a payment cost of Rs Twenty Five Thousand.
Author’s Opinion – The appellants had filed the application for condonation of delay prior to the cited judgment being ruled so it was righteous for the court to set aside the impugned judgment of the NCDRC. Furthermore, appreciating the facts of the case, it is clear that the appellants’ case had merit since the delay was for a short period and they had valid reasons for the delay which was duly heard by the court. What is interesting is had the judgment in the New India Assurance case been in effect prior to the filing of the said application of the condonation of delay, the court would have probably interpreted if the case made was an exception as according to paragraph 63 of the judgment made which said that the ruling would be operated prospectively. The application could have still been condoned had the “prospective” met the Coram’s eyes.
- DR. A. SURESH KUMAR & ORS. v AMIT AGARWAL, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 988 OF 2021 Available at: https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2021/5908/5908_2021_41_14_28296_Judgement_08-Jul-2021.pdf (Last Visited on Sept 18, 2021)
- New India Assurance Company Limited v. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage Private Limited, (2020) 5 SCC 757
- Limitation Act, 1973, § 5
This Article has been written by Anamika Singh from NUSRL Ranchi.