Vs. State of Kerala & ANR  INSC 746 (19 September 1997)
ANAND, K. VENKATASWAMI
O R D
E R Leave granted.
respondent - state of Kerala and Anr. filed Miscellaneous First Appeal
No.316/96 against the judgment and decree of the learned Sub Court at Kollam in Arbitration
Application No. 108/92. The appeal was barred by 565 days.
respondents filed an application seeking condonation of delay and by the order
impugned herein, that delay was condoned. The impugned order reads thus :
is an application to condone the delay of 565 days in filing an appeal. The
petition is seriously opposed by the respondent. But taking into consideration
the averments contained in the affidavit filed in support of the petition to
condone the delay, we are inclined to allow the petition.
petition stands allowed." It would be noticed from a perusal of the
impugned order (supra) that the court has not recorded any satisfaction that
the explanation for the delay was either reasonable or satisfactory, which is
essential pre-requisite to condonation of delay.
apart, we find that in the application filed by the respondent seeking condonation
of delay, the thrust in explaining the delay after 12.5.1995, si:
that time the Advocate General's office was fed up with so many arbitration
matters equally important to this case were pending for consideration as per
the directions of the Advocate General on 2.9.1995." This can hardly be
said to be a reasonable, satisfactory or even a proper explanation for seeking condonation
of delay. In the reply filed to the application seeking condonation of delay by
the appellant in the High Court, it is asserted that after the judgment and
decree was pronounced by the learned Sub Judge, Kollam on 30.10.1993, the scope
for filing of the appeal was examined by the District Government Pleader,
Special Law Officer, Law Secretary and the Advocate General and in accordance
with their opinion, it was decided that there was no scope for filing the appeal
but lateron, despite the opinion referred to above, the appeal was filed as
late as on 8.1.1996 without disclosing why it was being filed. The High Court
does not appear to have examined the reply filed by the appellant as reference
to the same is conspicuous by its absence from the order. We are not satisfied
that in the facts and circumstances of this case, any explanation, much less a
reasonable or satisfactory one had been offered by the respondent State for condonation
of the inordinate delay of 565 days.
limitation may harshly effect a particular party but it has to be applied with
all its rigour when the statute so prescribe and the Courts have no power to
extend the period of limitation on equitable grounds. The discretion exercised
by the High Court was, thus, neither proper nor judicious. The order condoning
the delay cannot be sustained. This appeal, therefore, succeeds and the
impugned order is set aside. Consequently, the application for condonation of
delay filed in the High Court would stand rejected and the Miscellaneous First
Appeal shall stand dismissed as barred by time. No costs.