Chh HC | The word “sufficient cause” under S. 5 of Limitation Act should adopt a liberal and justice-oriented construction to advance justice

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal J., allowed the appeal and condoned the delay while setting aside the impugned order.

The facts of the case are that the plaintiffs filed a civil suit for declaration of title and for permanent injunction in respect of the land. The Trial Court dismissed the suit of the plaintiffs, against which the plaintiffs preferred an appeal under Section 96 of the Civil Procedure Code i.e. CPC before the first appellate court which was barred by limitation, an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act was also filed stating that the plaintiffs preferred an application under Order 43 Rule 1(U) of the CPC before the High Court that has been dismissed. Thereafter appeal was preferred before the first appellate court which was rejected being devoid of merits. Aggrieved by this second appeal was filed under Section 100 of CPC.

Counsel for the appellants submitted that first appellate Court is absolutely unjustified in not condoning the delay of 72 days as the plaintiffs are entitled to the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, as such, the application for condonation of delay ought to have been allowed by the first appellate Court.

The Court relied on judgment N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy, (1998) 7 SCC 123 wherein it was held

“11. Rule of limitation are not meant to destroy the right of parties. They are meant to see that parties do not resort to dilatory tactics, but seek their remedy promptly. the object of providing a legal remedy is to repair the damage caused by reason of legal injury. Law of limitation fixes a life-span for such legal remedy for the redress of the legal injury so suffered. Time is precious and the wasted time would never revisit. During efflux of time newer causes would sprout up necessitating newer persons to seek legal remedy by approaching the courts. So a life span must be fixed for each remedy. Unending period for launching the remedy may lead to unending uncertainty and consequential anarchy. Law of limitation is thus founded on public policy. It is enshrined in the maxim interest reipublicae up sit finis litium (it is for the general welfare that a period be putt to litigation). Rules of limitation are not meant to destroy the right of the parties. They are meant to see that parties do not resort to dilatory tactics but seek their remedy promptly. The idea is that every legal remedy must be kept alive for a legislatively fixed period of time.

  1. A court knows that refusal to condone delay would result foreclosing a suitor from putting forth his cause. There is no presumptions that delay in approaching the court is always deliberate. This Court has held that the words “sufficient cause” under Section 5 of the Limitation Act should receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice

The Court thus observed that the meaning of “sufficient cause” under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 held that the Courts should adopt a liberal and justice-oriented approach and condoned the delay of four days in filing appeal, under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963.

The Court thus held that “it is quite vivid that plaintiffs’ suit for declaration of title and for permanent injunction was dismissed against which plaintiffs filed an appeal along with an application for condonation of delay for condoning the delay of 72 days in filing the appeal offering an explanation that they filed MA before this Court which was dismissed as withdrawn on 08.5.2008. It is not disputed that against the judgment and decree of the trial Court, an appeal under Section 96 of CPC before the first appellate Court would lie and appeal under Order 43 Rule 1(U) of CPC would not lie, therefore, the appellants/plaintiffs were entitled for the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Actas such, in the considered opinion of this Court, sufficient cause has been shown by the plaintiffs for the delay of 72 days in filing the appeal.”

In view of the above, impugned order was set aside and appeal allowed.[Ramvriksha Gond v. Babulal Gond, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 39, decided on 14-01-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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