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Refusing to condone the delay can result in a meritorious claim being thrown out at the threshold and cause justice to be defeated: Delhi High Court

The Employee Compensation Act is a beneficial legislation for the purposes of providing some respite to the family of the deceased who passes away in an accident at the working place. On a hyper technical view of delay in filing application for restoration a lawful claim should not be permitted to be defeated as upheld by the High Court of Delhi through the learned bench led by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva in the case of Late Mohd Asif Through His Mother Legal Heir Shabnam v. Shahid Khan & Anr. (FAO 146/2020)

Brief facts of the case are that Subject claim petition was filed by the appellant on account of the death of her son who was employed in the factory of the respondent No.1. As per the claim petition the son died on account of electrocution in the factory premises where it is alleged that there were open wires and unrepaired electricity connection in the factory. The claim petition was earlier allowed ex-parte in favour of the appellant and the respondent had filed an application seeking setting aside of the ex-parte order which was allowed on 21.08.2018 and thereafter the case was listed for written statements and framing of issues. It is on 12.09.2018 that the appellant failed to appear and the claim petition was dismissed in default. The order however, records that despite availing last opportunity claimant failed to appear and file counter submissions and the opportunity was closed. Appellant impugns order dated 19.06.2020 whereby the application of the appellant seeking restoration of the claim petition dismissed in default, has been rejected.

After the perusal of facts and arguments, the Hon’ble Court held, “The explanation rendered by the appellant for non-appearance and not filing an application within time is a plausible one. In view of the above, the delay in filing the application for restoration is liable to be condoned. Accordingly, the impugned order dated 19.06.2020 is set aside. The Commissioner shall proceed with the claim petition and decide the same in accordance with law expeditiously. It is clarified that nothing stated herein shall amount to an expression of opinion on the merits of the claim of the appellant or the defence of the respondent. Appeal is disposed of in the above terms.”

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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