Read Order: Kamla Devi And Another v. Neelam Rana @ Neelam 

Monika Rahar

New Delhi, April 4, 2022:  Owing to the unprecedented situation posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted one more opportunity to the petitioners (originally defendants) to file their Written Statement after the expiry of the limitation period of 90 days as provided under Order 8 Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code

The Bench of Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul held, 

“ (…) the ends of justice would be met if one more effective opportunity is granted to the petitioners to file their written statement.”

In the instant case, the petitioners were defendants before the civil court in a suit filed by the respondent-plaintiff for permanent and mandatory injunction qua the suit property. They (the petitioners) failed to file their written statement within the statutory period of 90 days and as a result, the Trial Court struck off their defence. Aggrieved, the petitioners approached the High Court in the instant petition. 

It was the case of the petitioners’ counsel that the petitioners put in an appearance before the trial Court on July 27, 2021, and thereafter on account of conditions prevailing due to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, they were unable to get hold of certain original/certified documents which were required to be submitted along with the written statement. He further submitted that it was thus for genuine reasons that there was a delay in filing the written statement. 

The Counsel placed reliance on Supreme Court in Misc. Application No.21 of 2022 in Misc. Application No.665 of 2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No.3 of 2020 wherein the Supreme Court, after taking into account the difficulties faced by the litigants in filing their petitions/applications/suits/appeals/all other quasi proceedings, directed that the limitation period from March 15, 2020, till February 28, 2022, shall stand excluded and would not come in the way of a litigant in the case on account of the pandemic, he was unable to file petition/applications/suit/appeal etc. 

After considering the petitioners’ case, the Court opined that although a Written statement is required to be filed within 30 days of service of notice as per the provisions of Order 8 Rule 1 CPC and it is extendable to 90 days, yet in view of the orders of the Supreme Court, the submissions made by counsel and also keeping in mind the conditions prevailing on account of the outbreak of pandemic and the lockdown imposed, the Court gave the petitioners one more opportunity to serve the ends of Justice. 

In the wake of the above, without issuing notice to the respondent, to avoid any further delay, the impugnedorder was set aside and the instant revision petition was allowed.

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