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Fanciful or Reckless Drafting of Application for Condonation of Delay is Not Acceptable: High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Srinagar

The issue of insufficiencies and lacunae in drafting of an application of condonation of delay, not listing out or elucidating specifically upon sufficient cause for delay in filing appeal, was examined by the HIGH COURT OF JAMMU & KASHMIR AND LADAKH AT SRINAGAR, consisting of Hon’ble Mr Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, and Hon’ble Mr Justice Mohd. Akram Chowdhary, in the matter of Mst. Jana & Anr. vs. Mst. Rehti & Ors. [LPA No. 180/2021], on 22.12.21.

The facts of the case were that post a delay of 2051 days as specified in the Registry, the appellant filed the present application for condonation of delay in order to seek leave to file an appeal against the decision of the judge in a writ petition.

The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Srinagar, after perusing the evidence on record as well as the arguments of the counsels and the background of the case, made an observation that the law of limitation must be applied in all its rigor and vigor as required by the statute. It was laid down that in case of a request to the Court for extension of the period of limitation in a given case, the condition precedent is that the applicants have to satisfy the Court that they have carved out a sufficient cause in seeking the indulgence of the Court for not preferring the appeal or application within the stipulated time. It was also noted that Courts cannot come to the aid and rescue of the litigant where the application for condonation of delay does not spell out sufficient cause and the approach of the litigant, in making such application, is casual and cryptic.

Reliance was placed on several precedents in order to justify that the question of limitation period is no longer res integra, and the terms “sufficient cause” should be understood in their proper spirit, philosophy and purpose regard being had to the fact that these terms are basically elastic and are to be applied in proper perspective to the obtaining fact-situation. The conduct, behavior and attitude of a party relating to its inaction or negligence are relevant factors to be taken into consideration. It is so as the fundamental principle is that the courts are required to weigh the scale of balance of justice in respect of both parties and the said principle cannot be given a total go by in the name of liberal approach. It was laid down that if the explanation offered is concocted or the grounds urged in the application are fanciful, the courts should be vigilant not to expose the other side unnecessarily to face such a litigation.

Applying the ratio of the law laid down above to the instant case, it was held that there has been a reckless delay of 2051 days in filing the appeal and no satisfactory explanation has come forward on that count except for routine words and phrases. It was acknowledged that a liberal approach has to be adopted in the matter of condonation of delay when there is no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bonafides on the part of the litigant, but, it was seen that in the instant case, the appellants were seen to have taken their own time to formulate an opinion that the appeal has to be filed. It has, nowhere, been stated that they were, at all, prevented earlier to take such a decision. The appellants have been noted to have been negligent in prosecuting their claim within time and the explanation offered for the delay in filing the appeal is neither plausible nor reasonable. The Court held that the application appears to have been drafted recklessly without giving a proper account of the dates and details of the grounds agitated in it and recourse has been had to the leisure and pleasure in moving the application. Therefore, the case was held dismissed as barred by time.

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Judgement reviewed by Bhargavi

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