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Limitation Act, 1963 – s.5 – Condonation of delay – Appeal by Government Corporation against judgment and decree in civil suit – Also application under for condonation of delay of 4 years – Allowed by Division Bench – Justification of – Held: Not justified – Law Department of the Government Corporation did not approach High Court with clean hands – High Court committed grave error by condoning more than four years’ delay in filing of appeal ignoring the judicially accepted parameters for exercise of discretion u/s. 5 – Thus, order of High Court set aside – Application for condonation of delay dismissed – Civil Procedure Code, 1908 – O 41 r. 3A. The question which arose for consideration was whether the Division Bench of High Court was justified in condoning more than four years’ delay in filing of appeal by the respondents against judgment and decree passed by the Civil Judge in the Special Civil Suit. =Allowing the appeal, the Court HELD: 1.1. The law of limitation is founded on public policy. The legislature does not prescribe limitation with the object of destroying the rights of the parties but to ensure that they do not resort to dilatory tactics and seek remedy without delay. The idea is that every legal remedy must be kept alive for a period fixed by the legislature. To put it differently, the law of limitation prescribes a period within which legal remedy can be availed for redress of the legal injury. At the same time, the courts are bestowed with the power to condone the delay, if sufficient cause is shown for not availing the remedy within the stipulated time. The expression “sufficient cause” employed in section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and similar other statutes is elastic enough to enable the courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which sub serves the ends of justice. Although, no hard and fast rule can be laid down in dealing with the applications for condonation of delay, this Court has justifiably advocated adoption of a liberal approach in condoning the delay of short duration and a stricter approach where the delay is inordinate. [Para 8] [1184-c-e] Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantnag v. Mst. Katiji (1987) 2 SCC 107; N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy (1998) 7 SCC 123; Vedabai v. Shantaram Baburao Patil (2001) 9 SCC 106, relied on. 1.2. In dealing with the applications for condonation of delay filed on behalf of the State and its agencies/instrumentalities this Court has, while emphasizing that same yardstick should be applied for deciding the applications for condonation of delay filed by private individuals and the State, observed that certain amount of latitude is not impermissible in the latter case because the State represents collective cause of the community and the decisions are taken by the officers/agencies at a slow pace and encumbered process of pushing the files from table to table consumes considerable time causing delay. [Para 8] [1184-f-h; 1185-a] G. Ramegowda v. Spl. Land Acquisition Officer (1988) 2 SCC 142; State of Haryana v. Chandra Mani (1996) 3 SCC 132; State of U.P. v. Harish Chandra (1996) 9 SCC 309; State of Bihar v. Ratan Lal Sahu (1996) 10 SCC 635; State of Nagaland v. Lipok Ao (2005) 3 SCC 752; State (NCT of Delhi) v. Ahmed Jaan (2008) 14 SCC 582, relied on. 2.1. A reading of the impugned order makes it clear that the High Court did make a bald reference to the application for condonation of delay filed by the respondents but allowed the same without adverting to the averments contained therein and the reply filed on behalf of the appellant. The High Court erroneously assumed that the delay was of 1067 days, though, as a matter of fact, the appeal was filed after more than four years. Another erroneous assumption made by the High Court was that the appellant had not filed reply to controvert the averments contained in the application for condonation of delay. It may have been possible for this Court to ignore the first error in the impugned order because by deleting the figures and words “4 years and 28″ in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the application and substituting the same with the figure 1067, the respondents misled the High Court in believing that the delay was of 1067 days only but it is not possible to fathom any reason why the Division Bench of the High Court omitted to consider the detailed reply which had been filed on behalf of the appellant to contest the prayer for condonation of delay. Notwithstanding this, the impugned order may have been set aside and remitted the case to the High Court for fresh disposal of the application filed by the respondents under section 5 of the Limitation Act but, it is not proper to adopt that course because the respondents did not approach the High Court with clean hands. [Para 10] [1185-a-h; 1186-a] 2.2. It is clear that the Law Department of respondent No.1 was very much aware of the proceedings of the first as well as the second suit. In the first case, RM was appointed as an advocate and in the second case BR was instructed to appear on behalf of the respondents, but none of the officers is shown to have personally contacted either of the advocates for the purpose of filing written statement and preparation of the case and none bothered to appear before the trial Court on any of the dates of hearing. It is a matter of surprise that even though an officer of the rank of General Manager (Law) had issued instructions to RM to appear and file vakalat as early as in May 2001 and Manager (Law) had given vakalat to BR Advocate in the month of May 2005, in the application filed for condonation of delay, the respondents boldly stated that the Law Department came to know about the ex parte decree only in the month of January/February 2008. The respondents went to the extent of suggesting that the parties may have arranged or joined hands with some employee of the corporation and that may be the reason why after engaging advocates, nobody contacted them for the purpose of giving instructions for filing written statement and giving appropriate instructions which resulted in passing of the ex parte decrees. The above statement is not only incorrect but is ex facie false and the High Court committed grave error by condoning more than four years’ delay in filing of appeal ignoring the judicially accepted parameters for exercise of discretion under section 5 of the Limitation Act. [Para 13] [1187-g-h; 1188-a] 2.3. The impugned order of the High Court is set aside and the application for condonation of delay filed by the respondents is dismissed. As a corollary, the appeal filed by the respondents against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004 shall stand dismissed as barred by time. However, it is made clear that the disposal of the instant appeal shall not absolve the higher functionaries of respondent No.1 from the responsibility of conducting a thorough probe into the matter so that accountability of the defaulting officers/officials may be fixed and the loss, if any, suffered by respondent No.1 recovered from them after complying with the rules of natural justice. [Para 14] [1188-b-c] State of Bihar and others v. Kamleshwar Prasad Singh and another 2000 AIR SC 2388; Spl. Tehsildars, Land Acquisition, Kerala v. K.V. Ayisumma AIR 1996 SC 2750; Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Ltd. and others v. Union of India and others 1995 Suppl. (4) SCC 681; P.K. Ramachandran v. State of Kerala and another (1997) 7 SCC 566, referred to. Case Law Reference: 2000 AIR SC 2388 Referred to Para 5 AIR 1996 SC 2750 Referred to Para 5 1995 Suppl. (4) SCC 681 Referred to Para 5 (1997) 7 SCC 566 Referred to Para 5 (1987) 2 SCC 107 Relied on Para 8 (1998) 7 SCC 123 Relied on Para 8 (2001) 9 SCC 106 Relied on. Para 8 (1988) 2 SCC 142 Relied on Para 8 (1996) 3 SCC 132 Relied on Para 8 (1996) 9 SCC 309 Relied on Para 8 (1996) 10 SCC 635 Relied on Para 8 (2005) 3 SCC 752 Relied on Para 8 (2008) 14 SCC 582 Relied on. Para 8 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 2075 of 2010. From the Judgment & Order dated 25.3.2009 of the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad in Civil Application No. 14201 of 2008 in First Appeal No. 4180 of 2008. L.N. Rao, Nikhil Goel, Naveen Goel, Marsoak Bafaki, Sheela Goel for the Appellant. Anip Sachthey, Mohit Paul, Shagun Matta, Sherin Daniel for the Respondents.

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 REPORTABLE

 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 Civil Appeal No.2075 of 2010
 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.10965 of 2009)

Oriental Aroma Chemical Industries Ltd. ...Appellant

 Versus

Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation ...Respondents
and another

 J U D G M E N T

G.S. Singhvi, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. Whether the Division Bench of Gujarat High Court was justified in

condoning more than four years' delay in filing of appeal by the

respondents against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004 passed by

Civil Judge (Sr. Division) Gandhinagar (hereinafter referred to as "the trial

Court") in Special Civil Suit No.32 of 2001 is the question which arises for

consideration in this appeal.
 2

3. The appellant was allotted a piece of land for setting up an industrial

unit at Ankleshwar subject to the terms and conditions embodied in

agreement of licence dated 2.4.1976 which, among other things, provided

for consumption of specified quantity of water by the appellant. The

agreement also provided for payment of 70% of the cost of agreed quantity

of water irrespective of consumption. In 1982, respondent No.1 demanded

non utilization charges amounting to Rs.4068/-, which were deposited by

the appellant. After some time, respondent No.1 demanded Rs.2,69,895/-

towards water charges. For next 10 years, the parties entered into long

correspondence on the issue of levy of water charges, etc. Finally,

respondent No.1 issued bill dated 13.1.1996 requiring the appellant to pay

Rs.22,96,207/- towards water charges. The appellant challenged the

same in Special Civil Suit No.32 of 2001. The summons issued by the trial

Court were duly served upon the respondents but no written statement

was filed on their behalf to controvert the averments contained in the plaint

and none appeared on the dates of hearing despite the fact that the case

was adjourned on more than one occasion. The suit was finally decreed

on 30.10.2004 and it was declared that the appellant is not liable to pay

Rs.22,96,207/- by way of minimum charges for water for the period

between 1978 and 16.4.2001 and, thereafter, till the water was supplied by

respondent No.1. After few months, the appellant filed another suit which

was registered as Civil Suit No.222 of 2005 and prayed that respondent
 3

No.1 be directed to issue no objection certificate in its favour. The

summons of the second suit were also served upon the respondents, but

neither the written statement was filed nor any one appeared on their

behalf. The second suit was also decreed on 12.12.2007 and respondent

No.1 was directed to issue no objection certificate to the appellant. In

compliance of the decree passed in the second suit, the concerned

authority of the Corporation issued no dues certificate dated 9.7.2008.

4. After four months and fifteen days of taking action in furtherance of

the decree passed in the second suit, the respondents filed an appeal

against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004 passed in Special Civil

Suit No.32 of 2001. They also filed an application under Order 41 Rule 3A

of the Code of Civil Procedure read with Section 5 of the Limitation Act for

condonation of delay by making the following assertions:

 "1. That this appeal is preferred against the judgment and
 decree of the learned Civil Judge (SD), Gandhinagar passed
 on 30.10.2004. That the suit was filed for permanent
 injunction and declaration and on the ground that the
 advocate of the GIDC has appeared but no written statement
 was filed and, therefore, the learned Judge resorted to Order 8
 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code and granted the
 declaration as prayed for in the plaint. That after the decree
 being passed, the present plaintiff filed another suit being Civil
 Suit No.222 of 2005 and in which the decree was passed on
 12.12.2007. That particular decree is to be challenged before
 this Honourable Court and, therefore, in 2008, after the
 second decree was passed, it was brought to the notice of the
 Legal Department as well as to the Executive Engineer at
 GIDC, Ankleshwar as to how this has happened and it seems
 that because of numerous transfers as well as it is also
 4

 possible that the party might have arranged or joined hands
 with some employee of the Corporation and thereby after
 engaging advocate, no body has gone to the advocate for the
 purpose of giving instruction or filing the written statement and
 as a result thereof, decree is passed and only in the month of
 January/February, the law department came to know and
 therefore, an inquiry was made into the matter but the GIDC
 could not trace out as to at whose hands the mistake or
 mischief was done, however, when after inquiry everything
 was noticed and, therefore, the application for certified copy
 was made on 17.11.2008 and on 18.11.2008, the copy was
 ready and the same was sent to the advocate and thereafter
 the present appeal is preferred.

 2. That a long span from 30.10.2004 to 18.11.2008,
 practically four years time is passed and this has happened
 only because of some mistake or mischief on the part of the
 staff and, therefore, the appeal could not be preferred,
 otherwise it is a matter of substantial right of the GIDC where
 the water charges are leveled in spite of water being used or
 not and when the bills were already drawn, there was not
 intention on the part of the GIDC not to contest the suit. But it
 is difficult to trace out how this has happened and, therefore,
 when the inquiry was conducted in detail, the facts were
 brought to the notice and on that basis the cause has arisen to
 file this appeal and the delay of 1067 days cause in filing the
 appeal is required to be condoned in the interest of justice."

On notice, a detailed reply was filed on behalf of the appellant in the form

of an affidavit of its Director, Shri Sanjay Kantilal Shah, paragraphs 4.16, 5

and 6 whereof read as under:

 "4.16. That the First Appeal preferred by the appellant
 has been preferred with Civil Application No.14201 of 2008
 and the said application for condonation of delay under Order
 41 Rule (3A) read with Section 5 of the Limitation Act. As a
 matter of fact, the petitioner company being a Government
 Corporation is bound to follow the rules and regulations as it is
 and cannot deviate itself from the provisions of law. As a
 matter of fact in filing the present First Appeal there is a delay
 of more than 4 years. Moreover, in the second suit, the
 5

decree and judgment is already passed and thereafter now
the petitioner has no right to challenge the order of the Civil
Suit No.32/2001. But for the reasons best known to the
appellant the correct number of days has not been mentioned
in the condonation of delay application. As a matter of fact,
the petitioner being a Government Corporation has to follow
the rules and regulations strictly and is required to give proper
explanation as to why the Appeal has not been preferred
within the time frame and if they were so, being aggrieved by
the order passed by the Ld. Civil Judge (SD) Gandhinagar. If
the condonation of delay is taken into consideration the said
page is only a 4 pages wherein no proper explanation as to
what the petitioner was doing for the past year has been given
in the said and thereby also the said application is required to
be dismissed in limine.

5. With regard to para -1 of the Civil Application, I most
humbly and respectfully submit that it is true that the decree
passed by the Ld. Civil Judge (S.D) Gandhinagar on
13.10.2004. It is also true that in the said Suit, the advocate
for the GIDC had appeared but had not filed written statement
and therefore, the Ld. Judge has passed the order under the
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and granted
declaration as prayed for in the plaint. It is also true that after
decree was passed, the present respondent filed another suit
being Civil Suit No.222/2005 and the said decree was passed
on 12.12.2007. It is not true that in the year 2008 after the
second decree was passed it was brought to the knowledge of
the Legal Department that the earlier decree was required to
be challenged. Lack of legal knowledge cannot be said to be
ground to condone the delay. If the facts had not been
brought well in time then for the said it cannot be said that the
respondent company is required to be punished. As a matter
of fact nothing has been mentioned on Affidavit as to who did
not give proper instructions or as to who had possibly played
the mischief and as to who had joined the hand with the
respondent company. It is only the blame game which is
being played and allegations are being leveled in order to
save its own skin but there is no truth behind the facts
mentioned therein and thereby there is no way as to how the
present application can ever be allowed. Moreover the
respondent is not knowing any persons of the G.I.D.C. (as on
today or at any time).
 6

 6. With regard to para-2 of the Civil Application, I most
 humbly and respectfully say and submit that it is true that
 more than 4 years time has been passed from the date of the
 decree but as to who has played the mischief or mistake or
 had it been intentionally filed within the time frame that is for
 the reasons best known to the appellant corporation and that
 is something on which the petitioner company would not like to
 comment at this juncture. No proper justification or
 explanation has been brought on record as to what was
 happening for the past 4 years, has also not given anything in
 detail and neither true and correct facts have been mentioned
 nor the calculation in respect of the days have been made
 properly and thereby also on all the said counts, the present
 application is required to be dismissed with exemplary cost."

5. The Division Bench of the High Court referred to the judgments of

this Court in State of Bihar and others v. Kamleshwar Prasad Singh

and another, 2000 AIR SC 2388, N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy,

JT 1998 (6) SC 242, State of Haryana v. Chandra Mani and others AIR

1996 SC 1623, Spl. Tehsildars, Land Acquisition, Kerala v. K.V.

Ayisumma AIR 1996 SC 2750, Punjab Small Industries and Export

Corporation Ltd. and others v. Union of India and others 1995 Suppl.

(4) SCC 681, P.K. Ramachandran v. State of Kerala and another (1997)

7 SCC 566 and Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantnag v. Mst. Katiji

AIR 1987 SC 1353 and condoned the delay by making a cryptic

observation that the cause shown by the respondents is sufficient. The

relevant portion of the High Court's order is reproduced below:

 "Applying the principles laid down by the Supreme Court to the
 facts of the present case, we are satisfied that sufficient cause
 7

 is made out by the applicant for condonation of delay. Over
 and above, in view of the fact that reasons mentioned in this
 application have not been controverted by the other side and
 also in view of the principles governing the discretionary
 exercise of power under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963,
 we are of the view that sufficient cause has been stated for not
 filing the appeal in time and hence, delay caused in filing
 appeal is to be condoned and the application is required to be
 allowed."
 (Emphasis supplied)

6. Shri L.N. Rao, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant

argued that the impugned order is liable to be set aside because the High

Court allowed the application for condonation of delay by erroneously

assuming that the delay was of 1067 days only. Learned senior counsel

pointed out that appeal against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004

was filed on 24.11.2008 i.e., after more than four years, but by scoring out

the figures and words "4 years and 28" in paragraphs 2 and 3 of the

application and substituting the same with figure "1067", the respondents

misled the High Court in believing that delay was of 1067 days. He then

referred to affidavit dated 16.2.2009 of Shri Sanjay Kantilal Shah to show

that substantial grounds had been put forward on behalf of the appellant

for opposing the respondents' prayer for condonation of delay of more than

four years and submitted that the Division Bench of the High Court

committed serious error in condoning the delay by assuming that no reply

had been filed by the appellant. Learned senior counsel also invited the

Court's attention to affidavits dated 25.11.2009 and 4.2.2010 of Shri Pravin
 8

Keshav Lal Modi and Shri Harishbhai Patel respectively filed in this Court

on behalf of the respondents as also the list of events attached with the

second affidavit to show that the functionaries of respondent No.1 were

very much aware of the proceedings of Special Civil Suit No.32 of 2001

and Civil Suit No.222 of 2005 and submitted that the High Court should not

have accepted patently incorrect assertions contained in the application for

condonation of delay, which was supported by an affidavit of none else

than the General Manager of respondent No.1, Shri R.B. Jadeja, that the

Law Department came to know about the judgment of Special Civil Suit

No.32/2001 only in January/February, 2008.

7. Shri Anip Sachthey, learned counsel for the respondents fairly

admitted that the appeal was filed after lapse of more than four years of

judgment dated 30.10.2004 but submitted that this Court should not

interfere with the discretion exercised by the High Court to condone the

delay and the respondents should not be penalized simply because the

advocates appointed by the Corporation did not bother to file written

statement and appear before the trial Court on the dates of hearing.

Learned counsel emphasized that this Court has repeatedly taken

cognizance of the lethargy and callousness with which litigation is

conducted on behalf of the State and its agencies/instrumentalities at

various levels and condoned the delay so as to enable them to contest the
 9

matters on merit and submitted that similar approach may be adopted in

the present case and the appellant may be compensated by award of

adequate cost.

8. We have considered the respective submissions. The law of

limitation is founded on public policy. The legislature does not prescribe

limitation with the object of destroying the rights of the parties but to ensure

that they do not resort to dilatory tactics and seek remedy without delay.

The idea is that every legal remedy must be kept alive for a period fixed by

the legislature. To put it differently, the law of limitation prescribes a period

within which legal remedy can be availed for redress of the legal injury. At

the same time, the courts are bestowed with the power to condone the

delay, if sufficient cause is shown for not availing the remedy within the

stipulated time. The expression "sufficient cause" employed in Section 5 of

the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 and similar other statutes is elastic enough

to enable the courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which sub

serves the ends of justice. Although, no hard and fast rule can be laid

down in dealing with the applications for condonation of delay, this Court

has justifiably advocated adoption of a liberal approach in condoning the

delay of short duration and a stricter approach where the delay is

inordinate - Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantnag v. Mst. Katiji (1987)

2 SCC 107, N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy (1998) 7 SCC 123 and
 10

Vedabai v. Shantaram Baburao Patil (2001) 9 SCC 106. In dealing with

the applications for condonation of delay filed on behalf of the State and its

agencies/instrumentalities this Court has, while emphasizing that same

yardstick should be applied for deciding the applications for condonation of

delay filed by private individuals and the State, observed that certain

amount of latitude is not impermissible in the latter case because the State

represents collective cause of the community and the decisions are taken

by the officers/agencies at a slow pace and encumbered process of

pushing the files from table to table consumes considerable time causing

delay - G. Ramegowda v. Spl. Land Acquisition Officer (1988) 2 SCC

142, State of Haryana v. Chandra Mani (1996) 3 SCC 132, State of U.P.

v. Harish Chandra (1996) 9 SCC 309, State of Bihar v. Ratan Lal Sahu

(1996) 10 SCC 635, State of Nagaland v. Lipok Ao (2005) 3 SCC 752,

and State (NCT of Delhi) v. Ahmed Jaan (2008) 14 SCC 582.

9. In the light of the above, it is to be seen whether the respondents

had offered any plausible/tangible explanation for the long delay of more

than four years in filing of appeal and the High Court was justified in

condoning the delay.

10. A reading of the impugned order makes it clear that the High Court

did make a bald reference to the application for condonation of delay filed
 11

by the respondents but allowed the same without adverting to the

averments contained therein and the reply filed on behalf of the appellant.

Not only this, the High Court erroneously assumed that the delay was of

1067 days, though, as a matter of fact, the appeal was filed after more

than four years. Another erroneous assumption made by the High Court

was that the appellant had not filed reply to controvert the averments

contained in the application for condonation of delay. It may have been

possible for this Court to ignore the first error in the impugned order

because by deleting the figures and words "4 years and 28" in paragraphs

2 and 3 of the application and substituting the same with the figure 1067,

the respondents misled the High Court in believing that the delay was of

1067 days only but it is not possible to fathom any reason why the Division

Bench of the High Court omitted to consider the detailed reply which had

been filed on behalf of the appellant to contest the prayer for condonation

of delay. Notwithstanding this, we may have set aside the impugned order

and remitted the case to the High Court for fresh disposal of the application

filed by the respondents under Section 5 of the Limitation Act but, do not

consider it proper to adopt that course, because as will be seen

hereinafter, the respondents did not approach the High Court with clean

hands.
 12

11. The statement containing the list of events annexed with the affidavit

of Shri Harishbhai Patel shows that before filing suit, the appellant had

issued notice dated 5.2.2001 to which respondent No.1 sent reply dated

13.3.2001. The summons of Special Civil Suit No. 32/2001 instituted by

the appellant were served upon the respondents sometime in the month of

April/May 2001. On 16.5.2001, General Manager (Law) instructed Ms.

Rekhaben M. Patel to appear on behalf of the respondents. Executive

Engineer, Ankleshwar was also directed to contact the advocate for

preparing the reply affidavit. On 23.5.2001, Deputy Executive Engineer,

Ankleshwar forwarded the comments to Ms. Rekhaben M. Patel. On

18.4.2002, the appellant filed an application for ex parte proceedings

against the respondents. On 30.11.2002, the trial Court directed the

respondents to appear on 12.12.2002 with indication that if they fail to do

so, ex parte proceedings will be held. Thereupon, General Manager (Law)

wrote letter dated 10.12.2002 to Ms. Rekhaben to remain present on the

next date of hearing i.e., 12.12.2002. On 30th December, 2002, Deputy

Executive Engineer, Ankleshwar wrote to the advocate in the matter of

submission of para-wise comments. On 2.1.2003, the Executive Engineer

is said to have sent a letter to the advocate informing her about the next

date of hearing i.e., 10.1.2003 and asked her to remain present. After

almost one year and ten months, the trial Court pronounced the ex parte

judgment and decreed the suit. The summons of the second suit were
 13

received sometime in May, 2005. On 20.6.2005, Shri B.R. Sharma,

Advocate was instructed to appear on behalf of the respondents. On

10.1.2006, Deputy Executive Engineer, Ankleshwar informed the new

advocate about the next date of hearing which was 23.1.2006. The

second suit was decreed on 12.12.2007.

12. During the course of hearing, learned counsel for the respondents

fairly conceded that in the second suit filed by the appellant there was a

specific mention of decree dated 30.10.2004 passed in Special Civil Suit

No. 32/2001. He also conceded that even though the first suit remained

pending before the trial Court for three years and five months and the

second suit remained pending for more than two years, none of the officers

of the Law Department or the Engineering Department of respondent No.1

appeared before the Court.

13. From what we have noted above, it is clear that the Law Department

of respondent No.1 was very much aware of the proceedings of the first as

well as the second suit. In the first case, Ms. Rekhaben M. Patel was

appointed as an advocate and in the second case Shri B.R. Sharma was

instructed to appear on behalf of the respondents, but none of the officers

is shown to have personally contacted either of the advocates for the

purpose of filing written statement and preparation of the case and none
 14

bothered to appear before the trial Court on any of the dates of hearing. It

is a matter of surprise that even though an officer of the rank of General

Manager (Law) had issued instructions to Ms. Rekhaben M. Patel to

appear and file vakalat as early as in May 2001 and Manager (Law) had

given vakalat to Shri B.R. Sharma, Advocate in the month of May 2005, in

the application filed for condonation of delay, the respondents boldly stated

that the Law Department came to know about the ex parte decree only in

the month of January/February 2008. The respondents went to the extent

of suggesting that the parties may have arranged or joined hands with

some employee of the corporation and that may be the reason why after

engaging advocates, nobody contacted them for the purpose of giving

instructions for filing written statement and giving appropriate instructions

which resulted in passing of the ex parte decrees. In our view, the above

statement contained in para 1 of the application is not only incorrect but is

ex facie false and the High Court committed grave error by condoning

more than four years' delay in filing of appeal ignoring the judicially

accepted parameters for exercise of discretion under Section 5 of the

Limitation Act.

14. In the result, the appeal is allowed. The impugned order of the High

Court is set aside and the application for condonation of delay filed by the

respondents is dismissed. As a corollary, the appeal filed by the
 15

respondents against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004 shall stand

dismissed as barred by time. However, it is made clear that the disposal of

this appeal shall not absolve the higher functionaries of respondent No.1

from the responsibility of conducting a thorough probe into the matter so

that accountability of the defaulting officers/officials may be fixed and the

loss, if any, suffered by respondent No.1 recovered from them after

complying with the rules of natural justice.

 ......................................J.
 [G.S. Singhvi]

 ......................................J.
 [Asok Kumar Ganguly]

New Delhi,
Dated: February 26, 2010.
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