Provisions of Limitation Act do not apply to a statute that is a code in itself

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Sanjay Karol, Acting CJ and Ajay Mohan Goel, J. dismissed a batch of applications filed for condonation of delay in filing revision petitions under Section 48(1) of Himachal Pradesh Value Added Tax Act 2005, beyond the period of limitation prescribed therein.

All the revision petitions were time-barred by as much as two years beyond the period of limitation prescribed in the section. The moot question involved in all the petitions was whether the Court can entertain an application under Section 5 of Limitation Act for condonation of delay in filing a revision petition under Section 48(1) of H.P. Value Added Tax Act. Section 48 provides that ‘any person aggrieved by an order made by the tribunal under Section 45(2) or Section 46(3), may, within 90 days of the communication of such order, apply to the High Court for revision thereof…’. It was contended by the Senior Counsel opposing the application that the application filed under Section 5 was per se not maintainable and the same was liable to be dismissed outrightly. Whereas, Senior Additional Advocate General argued that such application was maintainable and the Court had the power to condone delay.

While settling the issue at hand, the High Court observed that the language of Section 48 is unambiguous and categorical. Further, there is no provision in the Statute from which it could be inferred that a time-barred revision petition can be preferred before the High Court and if the High Court is satisfied, it can condone the delay in filing the same. The High Court relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Hukumdev Narain Yadav v. Lalit Narain Mishra,(1974) 2 SCC 133, wherein the Hon’ble Court held, “where a Statute is a complete code in itself, meaning thereby that it is a substantive as well as procedural code, then the application of Limitation Act has to be seen from the scope of application of the Statute and not the Limitation Act.” Based on such principle, the High Court held that H.P. Value Added Tax was code in itself as it was both a substantive and procedural law and no provision therein, made the provisions of Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings originating under the former Act. Therefore, the Court held that it had no inherent power to condone the delay in entertaining the revision petitions filed beyond the period of limitation prescribed by the Act itself. [State of H.P v.  Tritronics India (P) Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine HP 757, dated 18-06-2018]

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