REASONABLE EXERCISE OF DISCREATION IN LIMITATION CASES

REASONABLE EXERCISE OF DISCREATION IN LIMITATION CASES

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REASONABLE EXERCISE OF DISCREATION IN LIMITATION CASES
REASONABLE EXERCISE OF DISCREATION IN LIMITATION CASES

Aapka Consultant Judgment Series- In this series, we are providing case analysis of Landmark Judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

Lanka Venkateswarlu (D) by LRs. v. State of A.P. and Ors

AIR 2011 SC 1199, [2011] 4 SCC 363

JUDGES: B. Sudershan Reddy and Surinder Singh Nijjar

Date of Decision: 24-02-2011

FACTS:-

This appeal is directed against the order passed by the High Court allowing applications filed by the respondents for condonation of 883 days delay in filing petition to set aside dismissal order and for condonation of 3703 days delay in bringing on record the Legal Representative’s (LRs) of deceased respondent without justified delay as well as negligence on the part of the Government pleaders. During the pendency of appeal before the High Court, intimation about death of sole respondent (original plaintiff) was given by advocate appearing for deceased respondent but on failure  to bring on record for LRs by the appellants (original defendants and appellants before High Court) and Government Pleader; appeal stood abated and dismissed. Later, applications for condonation and dismissal of order were allowed taking view that delay was due to inefficiency, ineptitude and negligence of Government Pleader

ISSUE:-

  • Whether the High Court was justified in condoning the delay in the peculiar facts under S.5 of the limitation act?
  • Whether the High Court has adopted the liberal approach and reasonableness in exercise of the discretion by the Court?

JUDGMENT:-

Generally, the courts in this country, including the Hon’ble Supreme Court, adopt a liberal approach in considering the application for condonation of delay on the ground of sufficient cause under S. 5 of the Limitation Act. The courts do not enjoy unlimited and unbridled discretionary powers. Thus, Court framed this principle, that all discretionary powers, especially judicial powers, have to be exercised within reasonable bounds. Whims or fancies; prejudices or predilections cannot and should not be form the basis of exercising discretionary powers. Also, liberal approach in considering sufficiency of cause for delay should not override substantial law of limitation, especially in the absence of justification for delay.

In this case, the approach adopted by the High Court to condone delay after holding the same to be unjustifiable, was due to the delay being caused by the inefficiency and ineptitude of the government pleaders to bring Legal Representative of respondent on record. The High Court in its desire to castigate the government pleaders has sacrificed the “justice oriented approach”, the foundation of which is fairness and impartiality and proceed to condone the unconscionable delay.

Hence, caustic remarks made by the High Court, against the government pleaders exhibits a departure from the principle stated above, thereby, allowing this appeal.

HELD:-

As the High Court failed to exercise its discretion to condone delay in reasonable, impartial and objective manner, appeal of respondents before High Court held to have been abated.

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