CASE TITLE: M/S Krishak Bharti Co-Operative Ltd.Kribhco Surat Gujarat v. Union Of India Thru G.M. Northern Eastern Railway Gorakhpur [FAFO No. – 236 of 2002]
DECIDED ON: 16.08.2023
CORAM: Hon’ble Ajay Bhanot,J
The application of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 has been affirmed by the Allahabad High Court in relation to proceedings governed by the Railway Claim Tribunal Act, 1987 and the Railway Claim Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1989.
Justice Ajay Bhanot, presiding over the bench, was overseeing an appeal stemming from a claim application submitted before the Railway Claim Tribunal. The application was dismissed due to non-prosecution. Following this, the claimant submitted a request for the restoration of the claim application. However, this request was rejected due to being beyond the permissible time limit.
The appellant submitted a compensation claim to the Railway Claims Tribunal’s Lucknow Bench (“Railway Tribunal”) following the demise of his son. However, due to a lack of prosecution, the claim was dismissed on 09.02.2000. Subsequently, eight months later, on 04.10.2000, the appellant lodged an application for restoration. Rule 18 of the Railway Claims Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1989 specifies a 30-day timeframe for submitting an application to reverse a default dismissal order. The Railway Tribunal declined the restoration application due to it being beyond the allowable time limit.
In response to the decisions made by the Railway Tribunal, the appellant initiated an appeal in the High Court.
CASE ANALYSIS AND DECISION
The court drew upon precedents from the Gujarat High Court, specifically the cases of Shyam Santaram Sali (Marathi) v. Union of India and Dharmesh Madhubhai Parmar v. Union of India. In these cases, it was established that Section 5 of the Limitation Act is applicable to proceedings governed by the Railway Claim Tribunal Act, 1987, in conjunction with the Railway Claim Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1989.
The court acknowledged that the case had been transferred from Gorakhpur to Lucknow, and due to an administrative oversight, this transfer was not communicated to the appellant. Consequently, his absence on the day of the case’s dismissal was beyond his control.
The court noted that the application for condonation of delay demonstrated a valid and sincere reason for the delay, with no intention to cause it. The court further recognized the appellant’s consistent diligence in pursuing his claim. The court emphasized that when substantive rights are at stake, the primary focus should be on ensuring justice rather than barring claimants on technical grounds.
The court held that given the presence of a valid reason for the delay, the Railway Tribunal should have granted condonation for the delay.
As a result, the court nullified the decision to reject the application for delay condonation and reinstated the case for a comprehensive review on its merits.
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Written by- Mansi Malpani