Court cannot condone the delay beyond the period of ninety days as stipulated under Rule 4 of DHC(OS) Rules, 2018: High Court of New Delhi

The Court cannot condone the delay beyond the period of ninety days as stipulated under Rule 4 of DHC(OS) Rules. There is no provision to the aforesaid effect. Once it has been held that the provisions of Rule 4 of DHC(OS) Rules are mandatory and, the Court does not have jurisdiction to condone the delay beyond a period of ninety days. This was held in MR. HARJYOT SINGH v. MRS. MANPREET KAUR [IA No. 3129/2020 & IA No. 2945/2020] in the High Court of New Delhi by a single bench consisting of JUSTICE VIBHU BAKHRU.

Facts are that the plaintiff had filed a suit in which the Court had directed issuance of summons as well as notice of the applications filed by the plaintiff seeking interim relief under Order XXXIX Rule 1 and 2 of CPC. The Court had passed ex-parte ad-interim orders. After which the defendant filed the written statement along with the application, seeking condonation of delay in filing the same.

The counsel for the plaintiff submitted that the written statement was filed beyond the period of 120 days from the receipt of summons. He referred to Rule 4 of Chapter-VII of the DHC Rules and submitted that although the court could condone the delay for a period of 90 days, the delay beyond the said period cannot be condoned. The defendant had not established that she was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the written statement within the period as stipulated in Rule 4 of the DHC Rules.

The learned counsel for the respondent contended in noncommercial suits, the Court had the discretion to condone the delay in filing the written statement even beyond the period as prescribed under Order VIII Rule 1 of CPC. He relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Desh Raj v. Balkishan (Dead) through LR’s Ms. Rohini. And he contended that the defendant had not been served with the summons in the suit.

The court in order to discuss the limited discretions in condoning the delay that is under the purview of a court referred to the judgement of Ram Sarup Lugani and Another v. Nirmal Lugani and Others., wherein the following observations were made, “The Division Bench of this Court had interpreted the words ‘but not thereafter as used in Rule 4 of the DHC(OS) Rules, as limiting the jurisdiction of this Court to condone the delay only to the period as mentioned, which in the case of the written statement is 90 days. The court had also considered the decision of the Supreme Court in Desh Raj v Balkishan”

Considering the facts of the case and keeping in mind the settled proposition of law on the subject. The Court held that Rule 4 of the DHC Rules is a rule of procedure and insofar as expedient, a liberal view in condoning the delay ought to be taken by the Court, however, that does not mean that the said Rule can be completely ignored or should be interpreted to render it meaningless. Consequently, the court allowed the plaintiff’s application for removing the written statement on record and documents filed by the defendant.

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