Read Order:  T.Lakshmi v. M.Vasantha And Ors 

Tulip Kanth

Chennai, April 2, 2022: Refusing to condone the delay of over 2,500 days in filing the appeal, the Madras High Court has held that a citizen who “slept over his right” cannot approach the Court after an unacceptable delay for redressal of his grievances.

The Bench of Justice S.M.Subramaniam said, “Uncondonable delay cannot be condoned in a routine manner. Law of limitation is substantive. Litigations / appeals are expected to be filed within the period of limitation as contemplated under the Statutes. Rule is to follow limitation. Condonation of delay is an exception. Exceptions are to be exercised discreetly, if the reasons furnished are genuine and acceptable.”

“Any citizen, who slept over his right, cannot wake up one fine morning and knock the doors of the Court for redressal of his grievances. The person, who slept over his right, has to necessary loose his right on account of efflux of time, which caused expiry of the cause,” the bench said.

The Civil Miscellaneous Petition in question, was filed to condone the delay of 2575 days in filing the second appeal.The petitioner stated that she is a senior citizen and suffering from ailments. Therefore, she could not come over to Madurai and make arrangements for filing appeal.The Counsel from her side stated that the appeal was presented into the Court as early as on July 31, 2008, but the appeal papers could not be traced out in the office of the Court for long years as the papers were returned.

The Bench noted that a perusal of the entire case bundle revealed that there was no proof to establish that the appeal was filed on the said date. Contrarily, one vakalatnama of Sri.M.S.Balasubramania Iyer was available in the case bundle, which showed that the said vakalat was filed on October 16, 2015. However, there was no SR number or other details available in the vakalat to establish that the vakalat was properly filed before the Court. 

On this apsect, the Bench stressed on the fact that mere affixing a seal of the Madras High Court was insufficient as such filing of papers must be registered in the appropriate register maintained by the Registry. Even other wise also, the said vakalat was filed in the year 2015 and not in the year 2008. Except this reason, there was no other reason available in the petition.

Expounding the law relating to condonation of delay, the Bench commented, “The Courts are expected not to travel beyond the permissible extent, so as to condone the enormous delay in a routine or mechanical manner. Power of discretion is to be exercised to mitigate the injustice, if any occurred to the litigants.”

Mentioning the important mitigating factors  to be considered while condoning the huge delay in instituting the litigations / appeals, the Justice Subramaniam added that the law of limitation has got a definite reasoning and logic.This law has to be followed scrupulously in all circumstances and on exceptional cases, the delay is to be condoned, if the reasons are genuine and acceptable.

According to the Court, once the delay petition is filed, it is to be dealt with independently by considering the reasons furnished by the petitioner. If the reasons are candid and convincing, then the petitions are to be considered. However, condonation of delay cannot be allowed merely based on the merits in the main appeal as it is not a trite law to follow. 

However, the Bench affirmed that in certain circumstances, the Courts can take a lenient view if the reasons are genuine and if the delay is about three months or upto five or six months but not in respect of longer delay. Keeping these facets into consideration, the High Court dismissed the Civil Miscellaneous Petition.

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