Supreme court decision: limitation act not binding in jogighopa act appeals

The current case involves the Limitation Act of 1963, which is a law that specifies the time frame during which a legal action can be filed in court. The Act governs civil litigation, appeals, and applications and establishes separate statutes of limitation for different sorts of proceedings. The Act’s objective is to eliminate stale and interminable litigation while also ensuring prompt justice.

The case is about a disagreement between two businesses registered under the Companies Act of 1956. The Appellant had provided items to the Respondents and generated bills that were only partially paid. Subsequently, the Respondents were deemed a “sick company” under the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1935, and the government issued the Jogighopa (Assam) Unit of Ashok Paper Mills Limited (Acquisition Transfer of Undertaking) Act, 1990, to revitalize the business. The Appellant filed a claim for the unpaid sum under Section 16 of the Jogighopa Act, and it was partially awarded without interest.

The complainants appealed the Gauhati High Court’s decision to dismiss their appeal against the Commissioner of Payments’ order under the Jogighopa Act as precluded by limitation. They contended that Article 116 of the Limitation Act, 1963, does not apply to the appeal under the Jogighopa Act since the Commissioner is not a court and the order is not a decree or order under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. They further contended that, in the lack of any mandated limitation, they submitted the appeal within a reasonable time frame and with sufficient reasons for delay. The respondents supported the Gauhati High Court’s decision to uphold the order of the Commissioner of Payments under the Jogighopa Act. They contended that Article 116 of the Limitation Act of 1963 applies to the Jogighopa Act appeal because the Commissioner has civil court powers and the order is governed by the Code of Civil Procedure of 19081. They further claimed that the appellants submitted the appeal more than three years late and without grounds, causing prejudice to the respondents.

In the light of the case, the Hon’ble Bench of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Sanjay Karol arrived at the verdict that “Consequent to the discussion made hereinabove, i.e., neither the general nor the specific statute providing for an appeal from an order of the Commissioner of Payments within a specified period of time, the Claimant – Appellants’ appeal cannot be said to be barred by time. The same would therefore, be maintainable.

 The Jogighopa (Assam) Unit of Ashok Paper Mills Limited (Acquisition Transfer of Undertaking) Act, 1990, is not governed by the prescription of limitation under Article 116 of the Limitation Act, 1963, as the appeal thereunder, from an order of the Commissioner of payments cannot be said to be an appeal under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for the Legislature of the State of Assam has been categorical in limiting the application of the code to certain aspects of the Act only.

Given that the Jogighopa Act allows for a Judge of the High Court to be the Commissioner of Payments and then categorically provides for an appeal to lie therefrom, Division Bench of the High Court further evidences the sui generis nature of the appeal procedure provided therein.

 In the absence of any particular period of time being prescribed to file an appeal, the same would be governed by the principle of ‘reasonable time’, for which, by virtue of its very nature, no straitjacket formula can be laid down and it is to be determined as per the facts and circumstances of each case. In the present lis, having regard to the sequence of events, as taken note of above-the Claimant – Appellants cannot be said to have transgressed the boundaries of reasonable time in filing their appeal before the District Judge.

The appeal is allowed in the aforesaid terms. The file is restored to the docket of the concerned District Judge for him to proceed in accordance with law and in light of the discussions made herein.

The same be decided possibly within a period of three months from the date on which a copy of this judgment and order is received by the District Judge, as is necessitated by the attending facts and circumstances. Parties to bear respective costs.”

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Written by- Namitha Ramesh

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