Bom HC | Incumbent on court to decide point of limitation before considering the matter on merits through separate proceedings not necessary

Bombay High Court: Ujjal Bhuyan, J., while deciding a writ petition, modified the order of the Joint Charity Commissioner whereby the question as to whether there is a delay in filing the related revision application was kept open, to be decided along with the revision application.

The petitioners were resisting the maintainability of a revision application filed by one of the respondents in a certain matter regarding the appointment of one of the petitioners in the petitioner’s Trust. They contended that the revision application was filed belatedly, i.e., after the expiry of the period of limitation. The Joint Charity Commissioner, before whom the matter was placed, rejected the petitioner’s application at that stage and observed that point of the delay was kept open to be decided along with the main revision application. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioners approached the High Court.

The Court noted that the revision application filed by the respondent before the Joint Charity Commissioner was under Section 70-A of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act, 1950. Under Section 70-A, the Charity Commissioner may invoke the jurisdiction in any of the cases mentioned in Section 70. While under Section 70 limitation period is prescribed, for invoking jurisdiction under Section 70-A in any of the cases mentioned in Section 70, no limitation period is prescribed. It was observed by the Court that whether revisional jurisdiction under Section 70-A has been invoked within a reasonable time or not would have to be decided in the facts and circumstances of each case having regard to the  60 days limitation period prescribed for filing an appeal under Section 70.

The High Court then noted that in respect of a provision where the limitation period is prescribed, if an appeal etc., is filed beyond such limitation period then it has to be accompanied by an application for condonation of delay. Only after the delay is condoned, the appeal, etc., can be taken up for consideration on merits. Before condonation of delay, the appellate authority would have no jurisdiction to hear the appeal on merits.

In such view of the matter, the order of the Joint Charity Commissioner was modified and he was directed to first decide whether the revision application is within a reasonable time. However, for dealing with the above aspect, it would be not necessary to have separate proceedings, a common proceeding will suffice, but the point relating to whether the revision application has been filed within a reasonable period or not has to be decided first. If the decision is in the negative, proceeding further with the revision application would not be necessary. However, if the answer is in the affirmative then the revision application would have to be decided on its merits. [Subir Kumar Banerjee v. Neetu Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 6609, decided on 20-12-2019]

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