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B. Madhuri Goud Versus B. Damodar Reddy

2012 (12) SCC 693 - Civil Appeal No. 4855 of 2012 - Dated:- 3-7-2012 - G. S. Singhvi And S. J. Mukhopadhaya, JJ. JUDGEMENT 1. Leave granted. The Appellant has questioned the correctness of order dated 11.3.2011 passed by the learned Single Judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court whereby he condoned 1236 days delay in filing of appeal by the Respondent against judgment and decree dated 18.8.2006 passed by v. Senior Civil Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad (hereinafter referred to as, 'the tria .....

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urt vide order dated 20.2.2008. Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No. 341 of 2008 filed by the Respondent was dismissed by the High Court vide judgment dated 11.12.2008. 3. After almost four years of the passing of ex-parte decree by the trial Court and one year and eight months of the dismissal of CMA No. 341 of 2008 by the High Court, the Respondent filed an appeal under Section 96 Code of Civil Procedure. He also filed an application for condonation of 1236 days delay by stating that he handed over .....

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e were some latches on the part of the counsel but the Respondent cannot be penalised for the same. 5. We have heard Learned Counsel for the parties. The Limitation Act, 1963 has not been enacted with the object of destroying the rights of the parties but to ensure that they approach the court for vindication of their rights without unreasonable delay. The idea underlying the concept of limitation is that every remedy should remain alive only till the expiry of the period fixed by the legislatur .....

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s parties are not defeated only on the ground of delay. 7. In Collector, Land Acquisition v. Katiji, 1987 2 SCC 107 this Court made a departure from the earlier judgments in which strict interpretation was placed on the expression "sufficient cause" and observed: The legislature has conferred the power to condone delay by enacting Section 5 of the Limitation Act of 1963 in order to enable the courts to do substantial justice to parties by disposing of matters on 'merits'. The e .....

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approach is adopted on principle as it is realised that: (1) Ordinarily a litigant does not stand to benefit by lodging an appeal late. (2) Refusing to condone delay can result in a meritorious matter being thrown out at the very threshold and cause of justice being defeated. As against this when delay is condoned the highest that can happen is that a cause would be decided on merits after hearing the parties. (3) 'Every day's delay must be explained' does not mean that a pedantic a .....

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le negligence, or on account of mala fides. A litigant does not stand to benefit by resorting to delay. In fact he runs a serious risk. (6) It must be grasped that judiciary is respected not on account of its power to legalise injustice on technical grounds but because it is capable of removing injustice and is expected to do so. Making a justice-oriented approach from this perspective, there was sufficient cause for condoning the delay in the institution of the appeal. The fact that it was the .....

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rge of the matter is directly hit or hurt by the judgment sought to be subjected to appeal) and the inherited bureaucratic methodology imbued with the note-making, file-pushing, and passing-on-the-buck ethos, delay on its part is less difficult to understand though more difficult to approve. In any event, the State which represents the collective cause of the community, does not deserve a litigant-non-grata status. The courts therefore have to be informed with the spirit and philosophy of the pr .....

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of discretion of the court. Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not say that such discretion can be exercised only if the delay is within a certain limit. Length of delay is no matter, acceptability of the explanation is the only criterion. Sometimes delay of the shortest range may be uncondonable due to a want of acceptable explanation whereas in certain other cases, delay of a very long range can be condoned as the explanation thereof is satisfactory. Once the court accepts the explanation as .....

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g even untrammelled by the conclusion of the lower court. *** Rules of limitation are not meant to destroy the rights 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. The law of limitation fixes a lifespan for such legal remedy for the redress of the legal injury so suffered. Time is precious and wasted time would never revisit. During .....

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o destroy the rights 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. 9. In P.K. Ramachandran v. State of Kerala, 1997 7 SCC 556 this Court reversed the order passed by the High Court for condonation of 565 days delay in filing of an appeal by the State against the decree passed by the Subordinate Court and observed: Law of limitatio .....

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Section 5 of the Limitation Act and other similar statutes, the courts can neither become oblivious of the fact that the successful litigant has acquired certain rights on the basis of the judgment under challenge and a lot of time is consumed at various stages of litigation apart from the cost. What colour the expression "sufficient cause" would get in the factual matrix of a given case would largely depend on bona fide nature of the explanation. If the court finds that there has been .....

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dent for 1236 days delay had any semblance of credibility and the learned Single Judge of the High Court rightly exercised the discretion vested in him under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. 12. In paragraphs 2 to 4 of the additional affidavit filed by him in support of the application for condonation of delay the Respondent averred as under: 2. I submit that filed the above Appeal being aggrieved by the Ex-parte Decree dated 18.8.2006 made in O.S. No. 381/2006 on the file of the Hon'ble v. .....

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not properly explained. At our request for filing a better affidavit, explaining the delay, the matter was adjourned which is neither intentional nor wanton. 4. I submit that after dismissal of the C.M.A., my Counsel asked me to obtain certified copies of exhibits marked in the suit under appeal i.e., Settlement of Summons, Show Cause Notice, Market Value Certificate etc. to enable us to file the appeal. On 20.12.2008, I applied for the certified copies of the above documents before the Hon' .....

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Counsel prepared the draft appeal grounds and the delay petition and informed me to sign on the same. Thus, the same could not be filed till 5.3.2010. Due to the above mentioned reasons, I could not file the same for all these days for all these days. Hence, the delay of 1236 days in filing this appeal, which is neither intentional nor wanton, but it was beyond my control. If the delay is not condoned. I shall suffer grave and irreparable loss, which cannot be compensated. 13. A careful reading .....

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al supposed to have been filed by him against the judgment and decree dated 18.8.2006. Not only this, the application and affidavit filed by him are conspicuously silent about the name of the advocate to whom the papers were entrusted tor the purpose of preparing the grounds of appeal. The affidavit of the concerned advocate was also not filed. 14. In our view, if there was any iota of truth in the Respondent's story that the certified copies of the documents were misplaced by the office of .....

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