Period of delay is not the criteria while considering application under Section 5 of Limitation Act

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of G.S. Sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ., refused to condone a delay of 65 days in filing the appeal under Section 37 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which was consequently dismissed.

The appellant filed the said appeal against the order of the learned Single Judge who dismissed appellant’s objection to the award passed by the Arbitrator. However, there was a delay of 65 days in filing the appeal. The appellant sought condonation of such delay on the grounds that the appellant was a corporate body (a company) with a legal department and higher management. Every decision of filing an appeal is scrutinised by the higher management. It was stated that the appellant had preferred to take opinion from some counsels, and also made a self-analysis of the case. Thereafter, the facts were placed before the management who took the decision of filing the appeal. Thus, the appellant submitted, the delay was on account of bona fide reasons and not due to inaction or carelessness.

The High Court did not find favour with the submissions of the appellant. Referring to a few Supreme Court decisions, the High Court observed that while deciding an application under Section 5 of Limitation Act, the courts must adopt a liberal approach, provided there is no gross negligence, deliberate inaction or lack of bona fide imputable to the party seeking condonation of delay. Further, while considering the application seeking condonation of delay, the period of delay is not the criteria. A short delay may not be condoned in absence of an acceptable explanation while a large delay may be condoned if the explanation is satisfactory. In the instant case, the appellant was a private limited company with a legal department. The application for condonation of delay was highly casual in nature, it lacked material particulars and did not disclose sufficient cause for the condoning the delay. A bald statement of taking opinion from some counsels could not be taken as a sufficient cause. Holding thus, the High Court denied to condone the delay and dismissed the appeal. [Lifelong Mediatech (P) Ltd. v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd.,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 9559, dated 03-05-2018]

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