Chief Post Master General vs. Living Media India Ltd (Supreme Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: March 10, 2012 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (living_media_condonation_delay.pdf)

Delay by Department in filing appeal cannot be mechanically condoned

The Government filed an appeal to challenge the judgement of the High Court. There was a delay of 427 days in filing the appeal which was caused due to the normal bureaucratic procedure. The department cited a number of judgements and argued that in matters relating to the Government, a lenient view had to be taken as there was no want of bona fides. HELD dismissing the appeal:

In the absence of plausible and acceptable explanation for the delay, the question to be posed is why the delay should be mechanically condoned merely because the Government is a party. Though in a matter of condonation of delay when there was no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bonafide, a liberal concession has to be adopted to advance substantial justice, in the facts and circumstances, the Department cannot take advantage of various earlier decisions. The claim on account of impersonal machinery and inherited bureaucratic methodology of making several notes cannot be accepted in view of the modern technologies being used and available. The law of limitation undoubtedly binds everybody including the Government. It is the right time to inform all the government bodies, their agencies and instrumentalities that unless they have reasonable and acceptable explanation for the delay and there was bonafide effort, there is no need to accept the usual explanation that the file was kept pending for several months/years due to considerable degree of procedural red-tape in the process. The government departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and commitment. Condonation of delay is an exception and should not be used as an anticipated benefit for government departments. The law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be swirled for the benefit of a few. As there was no proper explanation for the delay except mentioning of various dates and the Department has miserably failed to give any acceptable and cogent reasons sufficient to condone such a huge delay, the appeals have to be dismissed on the ground of delay.

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