Sunday, 21 March 2021

Supreme Court: Commercial courts Act does not excludes application of S 5 of limitation Act

 The vexed question which faces us is whether, first and foremost,

the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act is excluded by the scheme of the Commercial Courts Act, as has been argued by Dr. George. The first important thing to note is that section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act does not contain any provision akin to section 34(3) of the Arbitration Act. Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act only provides for a limitation period of 60 days from the date of the judgment or order appealed against, without further going into whether delay beyond this period can or cannot be condoned.{Para 33}

34. It may also be pointed out that though the object of expeditious disposal of appeals is laid down in section 14 of the Commercial Courts Act, the language of section 14 makes it clear that the period of six months spoken of is directory and not mandatory. By way of contrast, section 16 of the Commercial Courts Act read with the Schedule thereof and the amendment made to Order VIII Rule 1 of the CPC, would make it clear that the defendant in a suit is given 30 days to file a written statement, which period cannot be extended beyond 120 days from the date of service of the summons; and on expiry of the said period, the defendant forfeits the right to file the written statement and the court cannot allow the written statement to be taken on record. 

 Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, by way of

contrast, applies an intermediate period of 60 days for filing an appeal, that is, a period that is halfway between 30 days and 90 days provided by Articles 116 and 117 of the Limitation Act.


41. For all these reasons we reject the argument made by Shri George that the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act is excluded given the scheme of Commercial Courts Act.

 REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 995 OF 2021


GOVERNMENT OF MAHARASHTRA Vs M/S BORSE BROTHERS ENGINEERS & CONTRACTORS PVT. LTD


Author: R.F. Nariman, J.

Dated: March 19, 2021.

1. Leave granted. Delay condoned in SLP (C) Diary No.18079 of 2020.

2. The substantial question of law which arises in these appeals is as to


whether the judgment of a Division Bench of this Court in N.V.

International v. State of Assam, (2020) 2 SCC 109 [“N.V.

International”] lays down the law correctly. This Court followed its

earlier judgment in Union of India v. Varindera Constructions Ltd.,

(2020) 2 SCC 111 [“Varindera Constructions”] and held as follows:

“3. Having heard the learned counsel for both sides, we

may observe that the matter is no longer res integra. In

Union of India v. Varindera Constructions Ltd. [Union of

India v. Varindera Constructions Ltd., (2020) 2 SCC 111] ,

this Court, by its judgment and order dated 17-9-2018

[Union of India v. Varindera Constructions Ltd., (2020) 2

SCC 111] held thus: (SCC p. 112, paras 1-5)

“1. Heard the learned counsel appearing for the

parties.

2. By a judgment dated 19-4-2018 in Union of

India v. Varindera Constructions Ltd. [Union of

India v. Varindera Constructions Ltd., (2018) 7

SCC 794], this Court has in near identical facts

and circumstances allowed the appeal of the

Union of India in a proceeding arising from an

arbitral award.

3. Ordinarily, we would have applied the said

judgment to this case as well. However, we find

that the impugned Division Bench judgment dated

10-4-2013 [Union of India v. Varindera

Constructions Ltd., 2013 SCC OnLine Del 6511]

has dismissed the appeal filed by the Union of

India on the ground of delay. The delay was found

to be 142 days in filing the appeal and 103 days in

refiling the appeal. One of the important points

made by the Division Bench is that, apart from the

fact that there is no sufficient cause made out in

the grounds of delay, since a Section 34

application has to be filed within a maximum

period of 120 days including the grace period of

30 days, an appeal filed from the selfsame

proceeding under Section 37 should be covered

by the same drill.

4. Given the fact that an appellate proceeding is a

continuation of the original proceeding, as has

been held in Lachmeshwar Prasad Shukul v.

Keshwar Lal Chaudhuri [Lachmeshwar Prasad

Shukul v. Keshwar Lal Chaudhuri, 1940 SCC

OnLine FC 10 : AIR 1941 FC 5] , and repeatedly

followed by our judgments, we feel that any delay

beyond 120 days in the filing of an appeal under

Section 37 from an application being either

dismissed or allowed under Section 34 of the

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 should not

be allowed as it will defeat the overall statutory

purpose of arbitration proceedings being decided

with utmost despatch.

5. In this view of the matter, since even the

original appeal was filed with a delay period of

142 days, we are not inclined to entertain these

special leave petitions on the facts of this

particular case. The special leave petitions stand

disposed of accordingly.

Pending applications, if any, also stand disposed

of.”

4. We may only add that what we have done in the

aforesaid judgment is to add to the period of 90 days,

which is provided by statute for filing of appeals under

Section 37 of the Arbitration Act, a grace period of 30 days

under Section 5 of the Limitation Act by following

Lachmeshwar Prasad Shukul [Lachmeshwar Prasad

Shukul v. Keshwar Lal Chaudhuri, 1940 SCC OnLine FC

10 : AIR 1941 FC 5] , as also having regard to the object of

speedy resolution of all arbitral disputes which was

uppermost in the minds of the framers of the 1996 Act, and

which has been strengthened from time to time by

amendments made thereto. The present delay being

beyond 120 days is not liable, therefore, to be condoned.”

3. In two of the three appeals before us, i.e., Civil Appeal arising out of

SLP (C) No. 665 of 2021 and Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) Diary

No.18079 of 2020, the High Courts of Bombay and Delhi vide

judgments dated 17.12.2020 and 15.10.2019 respectively, dismissed

the appeals filed by the Government of Maharashtra and by the Union

of India respectively, refusing to condone the delay in the filing of the

appeal under section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

[“Arbitration Act”] beyond 120 days. So far as the Civil Appeal arising

out of SLP (C) No.15278 of 2020 is concerned, the High Court of

Madhya Pradesh refused to follow the judgment of this Court in N.V.

International (supra) stating that there is a conflict between this

judgment and the judgment of a larger Bench of this Court reported in

Consolidated Engg. Enterprises v. Irrigation Deptt., (2008) 7 SCC

169 [“Consolidated Engg.”]. It was, therefore, held that it was open

for the High Court to condone the delay applying section 5 of the

Limitation Act, 1963 [“Limitation Act”] and, as a matter of fact, a delay

of what was stated to be 57 days was condoned.

4. Shri Sandeep Sudhakar Deshmukh, learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the Government of Maharashtra (Water Resources

Department) [“Govt of Maharashtra”], the appellant in Civil Appeal

arising out of SLP (C) No. 665 of 2021, submitted that the Arbitration

Act in its original avatar did not include the concept or idea of

expeditious resolution of disputes. At best, the Arbitration Act can be

treated as a mechanism providing for alternate dispute resolution. This

original objective is continued by the Arbitration and Conciliation

(Amendment) Act, 2015 [“2015 Amendment”] which provides a time

limit for arbitral awards and for fast track procedure contained in

sections 29A and 29B of the Arbitration Act. This being the case, the

very foundation of N.V. International (supra) is erroneous in law. Shri

Deshmukh also argued that section 37 of the Arbitration Act provides

for appeals from several orders, including orders made under sections

8, 9, 16 and 17, apart from orders that may be made under section 34

of the Arbitration Act. According to him, the rationale or logic contained

in N.V. International (supra) would perhaps apply only to appeals

from section 34 orders, but not to orders that are passed under any of

the other aforesaid sections, as there is no hard and fast application of a 120-day limitation period when it comes to applications that have been filed under any of these sections.

5. Shri Deshmukh also argued that section 33 of the Arbitration Act

contemplates correction and interpretation of an award, the arbitral

tribunal being clothed with the power to extend time without there

being any outer limit. He also stated that vide section 29(2) of the

Limitation Act, the period of limitation for filing applications under the

Arbitration Act would be governed by Article 137 of the Limitation Act,

providing for a much longer limitation period of three years. He further

argued that Articles 116 and 117 of the Limitation Act provide different

periods of limitation, being 90 days and 30 days respectively. Since

these different prescribed periods lead to arbitrary results, the concept

of an “appeal” would have to be read into the definition of the term

“application” so that the “appeal” provision under section 37 of the

Arbitration Act is uniformly governed by Article 137 of the Limitation

Act, which would lead to a uniform limitation period of three years. He

also argued that to read the period of limitation contemplated under

section 34(3) for an appeal filed under section 37 of the Arbitration Act,

would amount to judicial legislation due to the absence of any period

of limitation provided in section 37. He placed reliance on a large

number of judgments citing cases where the Limitation Act had been

6

held to be applicable to arbitration proceedings and others in which it

had not so been held. He also cited a large number of judgments on

section 29(2) of the Limitation Act, relating to the meaning of “express

exclusion” under the said section. He then cited judgments on the

applicability of Article 137 of the Limitation Act and a judgment which

eschews judicial legislation.

6.Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, learned Additional Solicitor General appearing

on behalf of the Union of India, the appellant in the Civil Appeal arising

out of SLP (C) Diary No. 18079 of 2020, read in detail the provisions

of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 [“Commercial Courts Act”] and

referred to the two Law Commission Reports which led to its

enactment, namely the 188th Law Commission Report and the 253rd

Law Commission Report. She then referred to this Court’s judgments

in Kandla Export Corpn. v. OCI Corpn., (2018) 14 SCC 715

[“Kandla Export Corpn”] and BGS SGS SOMA JV v. NHPC, (2020) 

SCC 234, dealing with the interplay between section 13 of the

Commercial Courts Act and section 37 of the Arbitration Act. She

argued that a limitation period of 60 days was laid down by section

13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, and though section 14 thereof

commands that an expeditious disposal of appeals take place within a

period of six months from the date of filing such appeal, neither of the two provisions bound appellate courts not to apply section 5 of the Limitation Act to relax the period of limitation in deserving cases. She also relied upon section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, which

speaks of the Limitation Act in the context of the Commercial Courts

Act. She then referred to section 16 of the Commercial Courts Act

read with the Schedule, and, in particular, the amendment made to

Order VIII Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 [“CPC”] which

closes the right of defence after a certain period of limitation is over,

which is to be contrasted with section 13 of the Commercial Courts

Act, which contains no such provision. She then referred to judgments

under different statutes such as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code,

2016 [“IBC”] and the Electricity Act, 2003 in which section 5 of the

Limitation Act becomes inapplicable by virtue of either the scheme of the statute in question or by virtue of an “express exclusion” spoken of in section 29(2) of the Limitation Act.

7. Shri Amalpushp Shroti, learned counsel appearing for the respondents

in the Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) No. 15278 of 2020, broadly

supported the arguments of Shri Deshmukh and Ms. Bhati, while citing

certain other judgments to buttress the same submissions.

8. Shri Vinay Navare, learned Senior Advocate appearing for M/s Borse Brothers Engineers and Contractors Pvt. Ltd [“Borse Bros.”], the respondent in the Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) No. 665 of 2021,

was at pains to point out the conduct of the Govt of Maharashtra and

added that if a period of 60 days is to be reckoned under the

Commercial Courts Act, the appeal filed by the Govt of Maharashtra

would be delayed by a period of 131 days for which there is no

explanation worthy of the name. He relied heavily on the impugned

judgment of the High Court of Bombay which had also stated that

though the certified copy of the judgment was applied for and was

ready by 27.05.2019, the Govt of Maharashtra wrongly mentioned that

it received such copy only on 24.07.2019, as a result of which the

Govt of Maharashtra had not appeared before the High Court with

clean hands.

9. Further, Shri Navare sought to answer Shri Deshmukh’s submission

that the rationale of N.V. International (supra) can and should apply

to an appeal filed against a section 34 order, as several different

appeal provisions were all bunched together in one section and could

have been the subject matter of different appellate provisions

contained in the very original proceeding that was sought to be

appealed against. He, therefore, argued that the scheme contained in

the Arbitration Act, insofar as appeals from section 8 applications are

concerned, is that it is only if a section 8 application is refused that an appeal lies and not otherwise, contrasting it with an appeal against a section 34 order, which lies whether or not the court allows the section

34 application. Hence, according to the learned Senior Advocate, each

appellate provision would have its own rationale, appeals in the cases

of section 8, 9, 16 and 17 of the Arbitration Act allowing for sufficient

cause to be shown beyond the period of 30 days, as opposed to

appeals filed under section 34, which ought to allow for sufficient

cause being shown upto a period of 30 days, or else the whole object

of section 34 would be destroyed. He referred to the Statement of

Objects and Reasons of the Arbitration Act and judgments to show

that Shri Deshmukh’s submission that the Arbitration Act provided only

alternate dispute resolution and not speedy disposal was wholly

incorrect. He also pointed out that specific timelines are contained in

several sections of the Arbitration Act such as sections 9(2), 11(4),

11(13), 13(2)-(5), 29A, 29B, 33(3)-(5) and 34(3), to indicate that the

object of speedy disposal was at the heart of the Arbitration Act.

10. Shri Navare then relied upon the Commercial Courts Act and in

particular, on sections 13(1A) and 14, to show that the whole object of

speedy disposal of appeals contained in the Commercial Courts Act

would be given a go-bye if long periods of delay beyond 30 days are

to be condoned, since the appeal itself has to be decided within a

period of six months. He also cited a number of judgments and

supported the judgment of this Court in N.V. International (supra) by

arguing that a judge is not helpless when faced with a provision which,

when literally read, would result in arbitrary and unjust orders being

passed. He also referred to judgments where a casus omissus could

be supplied, which is what was done in N.V. International (supra).

11. Shri Manoj Chouhan, learned counsel appearing on behalf of M/s

Swastik Wires, the appellant in Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C)

No.15278 of 2020, supported the impugned judgment dated

27.01.2020 of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and argued that this

Court’s judgment in Consolidated Engg. (supra), being a judgment of

three learned judges, would prevail over the judgment of this Court in

N.V. International (supra), which is only delivered by two learned

judges and, therefore, delay can be condoned. He also added that

once section 5 of the Limitation Act applies, the Court cannot impose

any limits on the expression “sufficient cause” and even if there are

long delays and sufficient cause is made out, such delays can be

condoned. Further, he argued that this Court could use Article 142 of

the Constitution, which is a veritable brahmāstra and panacea for all

ills, to do justice in individual cases.

12. Dr. Amit George, learned counsel appearing for M/s Associated

Construction Co., the respondent in the Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) Diary No. 18079 of 2020, argued that section 13 of the

Commercial Courts Act, having regard to the object of speedy disposal

sought to be achieved, excludes the application of section 5 of the

Limitation Act altogether. For this purpose, he relied heavily upon the

judgment of this Court in Kandla Export Corpn (supra) and the

judgment of this Court in CCE & Customs v. Hongo India (P) Ltd.,

(2009) 5 SCC 791 [“Hongo”] which dealt with section 35-H(1) of the

Central Excise Act, 1944 [“Central Excise Act”]. He also relied upon

other judgments which interpreted section 29(2) of the Limitation Act

to state that the scheme of a particular statute may make it clear that

there is an “express exclusion” of section 5 of the Limitation Act, which

is the case under the Commercial Courts Act. He then relied strongly

upon the judgment in N.V. International (supra) by supporting its logic

and citing judgments which would show that other sections of the

Limitation Act were excluded in the context of section 34(3) of the

Arbitration Act – such as sections 4 and 17 of the Limitation Act. In any

case, he argued that on facts sufficient cause had not been made out,

and that the judgment of the High Court of Delhi dated 15.10.2019

ought to be set aside on this ground also.

13. The arguments that have been made in these appeals and the

case law cited have gone way beyond the narrow question which

arises before us. However, in dealing with these arguments, it is

necessary to first set out the relevant statutory provisions contained in

the three statutes that have been strongly relied upon by either side in

these appeals.

14. First and foremost, the Arbitration Act has, in its Statement of

Objects and Reasons, the following:

“4. The main objectives of the Bill are as under:-

xxx xxx xxx

(ii) to make provision for an arbitral procedure which is fair,

efficient and capable of meeting the needs of the specific

arbitration;

xxx xxx xxx

(v) to minimise the supervisory role of courts in the arbitral

process”

15. As has correctly been pointed out by Shri Navare, the requirement

of an arbitral procedure which is efficient and the minimising of the

supervisory role of courts in arbitral process would certainly show that

one of the main objectives of the Arbitration Act is the speedy disposal

of disputes through the arbitral process. Section 5 of the Arbitration

Act is important and states :

13

“5. Extent of judicial intervention.—Notwithstanding

anything contained in any other law for the time being in

force, in matters governed by this Part, no judicial authority

shall intervene except where so provided in this Part.”

16. The other relevant provisions of the Arbitration Act provide as

follows:

“8. Power to refer parties to arbitration where there is

an arbitration agreement.—

(1) A judicial authority, before which an action is brought in

a matter which is the subject of an arbitration agreement

shall, if a party to the arbitration agreement or any person

claiming through or under him, so applies not later than the

date of submitting his first statement on the substance of

the dispute, then, notwithstanding any judgment, decree or

order of the Supreme Court or any Court, refer the parties

to arbitration unless it finds that prima facie no valid

arbitration agreement exists.

(2) The application referred to in sub-section (1) shall not

be entertained unless it is accompanied by the original

arbitration agreement or a duly certified copy thereof: 2

[Provided that where the original arbitration agreement or a

certified copy thereof is not available with the party

applying for reference to arbitration under sub-section (1),

and the said agreement or certified copy is retained by the

other party to that agreement, then, the party so applying

shall file such application along with a copy of the

arbitration agreement and a petition praying the Court to

call upon the other party to produce the original arbitration

agreement or its duly certified copy before that Court.

(3) Notwithstanding that an application has been made

under sub-section (1) and that the issue is pending before

the judicial authority, an arbitration may be commenced or

continued and an arbitral award made.”

“9. Interim measures, etc., by Court.—

xxx xxx xxx

(2) Where, before the commencement of the arbitral

proceedings, a Court passes an order for any interim

measure of protection under sub-section (1), the arbitral

proceedings shall be commenced within a period of ninety

days from the date of such order or within such further time

as the Court may determine.”

“11. Appointment of arbitrators.—

xxx xxx xxx

(4) If the appointment procedure in sub-section (3) applies

and—

(a) a party fails to appoint an arbitrator within thirty

days from the receipt of a request to do so from the other

party; or

(b) the two appointed arbitrators fail to agree on the

third arbitrator within thirty days from the date of their

appointment,

the appointment shall be made, upon request of a party, by

the Supreme Court or, as the case may be, the High Court

or any person or institution designated by such Court;

xxx xxx xxx

(13) An application made under this section for

appointment of an arbitrator or arbitrators shall be disposed

of by the Supreme Court or the High Court or the person or

institution designated by such Court, as the case maybe,

as expeditiously as possible and an endeavour shall be

made to dispose of the matter within a period of sixty days

from the date of service of notice on the opposite party”

15

“13. Challenge procedure.—

(1) Subject to sub-section (4), the parties are free to agree

on a procedure for challenging an arbitrator.

(2) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (1), a

party who intends to challenge an arbitrator shall, within

fifteen days after becoming aware of the constitution of the

arbitral tribunal or after becoming aware of any

circumstances referred to in sub-section(3) of section 12,

send a written statement of the reasons for the challenge to

the arbitral tribunal.

(3) Unless the arbitrator challenged under sub-section (2)

withdraws from his office or the other party agrees to the

challenge, the arbitral tribunal shall decide on the

challenge.

(4) If a challenge under any procedure agreed upon by the

parties or under the procedure under subsection (2) is not

successful, the arbitral tribunal shall continue the arbitral

proceedings and make an arbitral award.

(5) Where an arbitral award is made under sub-section (4),

the party challenging the arbitrator may make an

application for setting aside such an arbitral award in

accordance with section 34.

(6) Where an arbitral award is set aside on an application

made under sub-section (5), the Court may decide as to

whether the arbitrator who is challenged is entitled to any

fees.”

“16. Competence of arbitral tribunal to rule on its

jurisdiction.—

xxx xxx xxx

16

(2) A plea that the arbitral tribunal does not have jurisdiction

shall be raised not later than the submission of the

statement of defence; however, a party shall not be

precluded from raising such a plea merely because that he

has appointed, or participated in the appointment of, an

arbitrator.”

“29A. Time limit for arbitral award.—

(1)The award in matters other than international

commercial arbitration shall be made by the arbitral tribunal

within a period of twelve months from the date of

completion of pleadings under sub-section (4) of section

23:

Provided that the award in the matter of international

commercial arbitration may be made as expeditiously as

possible and endeavor may be made to dispose of the

matter within a period of twelve months from the date of

completion of pleadings under sub-section (4) of section

23.

(2) If the award is made within a period of six months from

the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference, the

arbitral tribunal shall be entitled to receive such amount of

additional fees as the parties may agree.

(3) The parties may, by consent, extend the period

specified in sub-section (1) for making award for a further

period not exceeding six months.

(4) If the award is not made within the period specified in

sub-section (1) or the extended period specified under subsection

(3), the mandate of the arbitrator(s) shall terminate

unless the Court has, either prior to or after the expiry of

the period so specified, extended the period:

17

Provided that while extending the period under this subsection,

if the Court finds that the proceedings have been

delayed for the reasons attributable to the arbitral tribunal,

then, it may order reduction of fees of arbitrator(s) by not

exceeding five per cent. for each month of such delay.

Provided further that where an application under subsection

(5) is pending, the mandate of the arbitrator shall

continue till the disposal of the said application:

Provided also that the arbitrator shall be given an

opportunity of being heard before the fees is reduced.

(5) The extension of period referred to in sub-section (4)

may be on the application of any of the parties and may be

granted only for sufficient cause and on such terms and

conditions as may be imposed by the Court.

(6) While extending the period referred to in sub-section

(4), it shall be open to the Court to substitute one or all of

the arbitrators and if one or all of the arbitrators are

substituted, the arbitral proceedings shall continue from the

stage already reached and on the basis of the evidence

and material already on record, and the

arbitrator(s)appointed under this section shall be deemed

to have received the said evidence and material.

(7) In the event of arbitrator(s) being appointed under this

section, the arbitral tribunal thus reconstituted shall be

deemed to be in continuation of the previously appointed

arbitral tribunal.

(8) It shall be open to the Court to impose actual or

exemplary costs upon any of the parties under this section.

(9) An application filed under sub-section (5) shall be

disposed of by the Court as expeditiously as possible and

18

endeavour shall be made to dispose of the matter within a

period of sixty days from the date of service of notice on

the opposite party”

“29B. Fast track procedure.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the

parties to an arbitration agreement, may, at any stage

either before or at the time of appointment of the arbitral

tribunal, agree in writing to have their dispute resolved by

fast track procedure specified in sub-section (3).

(2) The parties to the arbitration agreement, while agreeing

for resolution of dispute by fast track procedure, may agree

that the arbitral tribunal shall consist of a sole arbitrator

who shall be chosen by the parties.

(3) The arbitral tribunal shall follow the following procedure

while conducting arbitration proceedings under sub-section

(1):—

(a) The arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute on the

basis of written pleadings, documents and submissions

filed by the parties without any oral hearing;

(b) The arbitral tribunal shall have power to call for any

further information or clarification from the parties in

addition to the pleadings and documents filed by them;

(c) An oral hearing may be held only, if, all the parties

make a request or if the arbitral tribunal considers it

necessary to have oral hearing for clarifying certain issues;

(d) The arbitral tribunal may dispense with any

technical formalities, if an oral hearing is held, and adopt

such procedure as deemed appropriate for expeditious

disposal of the case.

(4) The award under this section shall be made within a

period of six months from the date the arbitral tribunal

enters upon the reference.

19

(5) If the award is not made within the period specified in

sub-section (4), the provisions of subsections (3) to (9) of

section 29A shall apply to the proceedings.

(6) The fees payable to the arbitrator and the manner of

payment of the fees shall be such as may be agreed

between the arbitrator and the parties.”

“33. Correction and interpretation of award; additional

award.—

xxx xxx xxx

(3) The arbitral tribunal may correct any error of the type

referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (1), on its own

initiative, within thirty days from the date of the arbitral

award.

(4) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, a party with

notice to the other party, may request, within thirty days

from the receipt of the arbitral award, the arbitral tribunal to

make an additional arbitral award as to claims presented in

the arbitral proceedings but omitted from the arbitral award.

(5) If the arbitral tribunal considers the request made under

sub-section (4) to be justified, it shall make the additional

arbitral award within sixty days from the receipt of such

request.”

“34. Application for setting aside arbitral award.—

xxx xxx xxx

(3) An application for setting aside may not be made after

three months have elapsed from the date on which the

party making that application had received the arbitral

20

award or, if a request had been made under section 33,

from the date on which that request had been disposed of

by the arbitral tribunal:

Provided that if the Court is satisfied that the applicant was

prevented by sufficient cause from making the application

within the said period of three months it may entertain the

application within a further period of thirty days, but not

thereafter.”

“37. Appealable orders.—

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for

the time being in force, an appeal shall lie from the

following orders (and from no others) to the Court

authorised by law to hear appeals from original decrees of

the Court passing the order, namely:—

(a) refusing to refer the parties to arbitration under

section 8;

(b) granting or refusing to grant any measure under

section 9;

(c) setting aside or refusing to set aside an arbitral

award under section 34.

(2) Appeal shall also lie to a court from an order of the

arbitral tribunal—

(a) accepting the plea referred to in sub-section (2) or

sub-section (3) of section 16; or

(b) granting or refusing to grant an interim measure

under section 17.

(3) No second appeal shall lie from an order passed in

appeal under this section, but nothing in this section shall

affect or takeaway any right to appeal to the Supreme

Court.”

“43. Limitations.—


(1) The Limitation Act, 1963 (36 of 1963), shall apply to

arbitrations as it applies to proceedings in court.

(2) For the purposes of this section and the Limitation Act,

1963 (36 of 1963),an arbitration shall be deemed to have

commenced on the date referred to in section 21.

(3) Where an arbitration agreement to submit future

disputes to arbitration provides that any claim to which the

agreement applies shall be barred unless some step to

commence arbitral proceedings is taken within a time fixed

by the agreement, and a dispute arises to which the

agreement applies, the Court, if it is of opinion that in the

circumstances of the case undue hardship would otherwise

be caused, and notwithstanding that the time so fixed has

expired, may on such terms, if any, as the justice of the

case may require, extend the time for such period as it

thinks proper.

(4) Where the Court orders that an arbitral award be set

aside, the period between the commencement of the

arbitration and the date of the order of the Court shall be

excluded in computing the time prescribed by the Limitation

Act, 1963 (36 of 1963),for the commencement of the

proceedings (including arbitration) with respect to the

dispute so submitted.”

17. So far as the Limitation Act is concerned, sections 5 and 29(2) read as

follows:

“5. Extension of prescribed period in certain cases.—

Any appeal or any application, other than an application

under any of the provisions of Order XXI of the Code of

Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), may be admitted after

the prescribed period if the appellant or the applicant

satisfies the court that he had sufficient cause for not

preferring the appeal or making the application within such

period. Explanation.—The fact that the appellant or the

applicant was missed by any order, practice or judgment of

the High Court in ascertaining or computing the prescribed

period may be sufficient cause within the meaning of this

section.”

“29. Savings.—

xxx xxx xxx

(2) Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit,

appeal or application a period of limitation different from the

period prescribed by the Schedule, the provisions of

section 3 shall apply as if such period were the period

prescribed by the Schedule and for the purpose of

determining any period of limitation prescribed for any suit,

appeal or application by any special or local law, the

provisions contained in sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) shall

apply only in so far as, and to the extent to which, they are

not expressly excluded by such special or local law.”

18. Further, the relevant Articles of the Schedule provide as

follows:

“THE SCHEDULE

(PERIODS OF LIMITATION)

xxx xxx xxx

Description of suit Period of

limitation

Time from which

period begins to

run

116. Under the

Code of Civil

Procedure, 1908 (5

of 1908)—

23

(a) to a High Court

from any decree or

order.

(b) to any other

court from any

decree or order.

Ninety days.

Thirty days.

The date of the

decree or order.

The date of the

decree or order.

117. From a decree

or order of any High

Court to the same

Court

Thirty days. The date of the

decree or order.

137. Any other

application for which

no period of

limitation is provided

elsewhere in this

Division.

Three years. When the right to

apply accrues.

19. The Commercial Courts Act states, in its Statement of Objects and

Reasons, the following:

“STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

The proposal to provide for speedy disposal of high value

commercial disputes has been under consideration of the

Government for quite some time. The high vlaue

commercial disputes involve complex facts and question of

law. Therefore, there is a need to provide for an

independent mechanism for their early resolution. Early

resolution of commercial disputes shall create a positive

image to the investor world about the independent and

responsive Indian legal system.”

“6. It is proposed to introduced the Commercial Courts,

Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of

High Courts Bill, 2015 to replace the Commercial Courts,

Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of

High Courts Ordinance, 2015 which inter alia, provides for

the following namely:—

xxx xxx xxx

(v) to amend the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 as

applicable to the Commercial Courts and Commercial

Divisions which shall prevail over the existing High Courts

Rules and other provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure,

1908 so as to improve the efficiency and reduce delays in

disposal of commercial cases.

7. The proposed Bill shall accelerate economic growth,

improve the international image of the Indian Justice

delivery system, and the faith of the investor world in the

legal culture of the nation.”

20. Section 2(1)(i) of the Commercial Courts Act defines “specified

value” as follows:

“2. Definitions.—(1) In this Act, unless the context

otherwise requires,––

xxx xxx xxx

(i) “Specified Value”, in relation to a commercial dispute,

shall mean the value of the subject-matter in respect of a

suit as determined in accordance with section 12 which

shall not be less than three lakh rupees or such higher

value, as may be notified by the Central Government.”

21. Chapter II of the Commercial Courts Act sets up commercial

courts, commercial appellate courts, commercial divisions and

commercial appellate divisions. So far as arbitration is concerned,

25

section 10 is important and states as follows:

“10. Jurisdiction in respect of arbitration matters.—

Where the subject-matter of an arbitration is a commercial

dispute of a Specified Value and––

(1) If such arbitration is an international commercial

arbitration, all applications or appeals arising out of such

arbitration under the provisions of the Arbitration and

Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) that have been filed in a

High Court, shall be heard and disposed of by the

Commercial Division where such Commercial Division has

been constituted in such High Court.

(2) If such arbitration is other than an international

commercial arbitration, all applications or appeals arising

out of such arbitration under the provisions of the

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) that

have been filed on the original side of the High Court, shall

be heard and disposed of by the Commercial Division

where such Commercial Division has been constituted in

such High Court.

(3) If such arbitration is other than an international

commercial arbitration, all applications or appeals arising

out of such arbitration under the provisions of the

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (26 of 1996) that

would ordinarily lie before any principal civil court of original

jurisdiction in a district (not being a High Court) shall be

filed in, and heard and disposed of by the Commercial

Court exercising territorial jurisdiction over such arbitration

where such Commercial Court has been constituted.

22. The other relevant provisions of the Commercial Courts Act are set out as follows:

“13. Appeals from decrees of Commercial Courts and

Commercial Divisions.—

(1) Any person aggrieved by the judgment or order of a

Commercial Court below the level of a District Judge may

appeal to the Commercial Appellate Court within a period

of sixty days from the date of judgment or order.

(1A) Any person aggrieved by the judgment or order of a

Commercial Court at the level of District Judge exercising

original civil jurisdiction or, as the case may be,

Commercial Division of a High Court may appeal to the

Commercial Appellate Division of that High Court within a

period of sixty days from the date of the judgment or order:

Provided that an appeal shall lie from such orders passed

by a Commercial Division or a Commercial Court that are

specifically enumerated under Order XLIII of the Code of

Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) as amended by this Act

and section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

(26 of 1996).

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for

the time being in force or Letters Patent of a High Court, no

appeal shall lie from any order or decree of a Commercial

Division or Commercial Court otherwise than in accordance

with the provisions of this Act.

14. Expeditious disposal of appeals.—The Commercial

Appellate Court and the Commercial Appellate Division

shall endeavour to dispose of appeals filed before it within

a period of six months from the date of filing of such

appeal.”

“16. Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

in its application to commercial disputes.—

(1) The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5

of 1908) shall, in their application to any suit in respect of a

27

commercial dispute of a Specified Value, stand amended in

the manner as specified in the Schedule.

(2) The Commercial Division and Commercial Court shall

follow the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

(5 of 1908), as amended by this Act, in the trial of a suit in

respect of a commercial dispute of a Specified Value.

(3) Where any provision of any Rule of the jurisdictional

High Court or any amendment to the Code of Civil

Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), by the State Government is in

conflict with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure,

1908 (5 of 1908), as amended by this Act, the provisions of

the Code of Civil Procedure as amended by this Act shall

prevail.”

“21. Act to have overriding effect.—Save as otherwise

provided, the provisions of this Act shall have effect,

notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained

in any other law for the time being in force or in any

instrument having effect by virtue of any law for the time

being in force other than this Act.”

“SCHEDULE

4. Amendment of First Schedule.—In the First Schedule

to the Code,––

xxx xxx xxx

(D) in Order VIII,–– (i) in Rule 1, for the proviso, the

following proviso shall be substituted, namely:––

“Provided that where the defendant fails to file the

written statement within the said period of thirty days, he

shall be allowed to file the written statement on such other

day, as may be specified by the Court, for reasons to be

recorded in writing and on payment of such costs as the

Court deems fit, but which shall not be later than one

hundred twenty days from the date of service of summons

and on expiry of one hundred twenty days from the date of

service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right to

file the written statement and the Court shall not allow the

written statement to be taken on record.”;”

23. Section 37 of the Arbitration Act, when read with section 43

thereof, makes it clear that the provisions of the Limitation Act will

apply to appeals that are filed under section 37. This takes us to

Articles 116 and 117 of the Limitation Act, which provide for a

limitation period of 90 days and 30 days, depending upon whether the

appeal is from any other court to a High Court or an intra-High Court

appeal. There can be no doubt whatsoever that section 5 of the

Limitation Act will apply to the aforesaid appeals, both by virtue of

section 43 of the Arbitration Act and by virtue of section 29(2) of the

Limitation Act. This aspect of the matter has been set out in the

concurring judgment of Raveendran, J. in Consolidated Engg.

(supra), as follows:

“40. Let me next refer to the relevant provisions of the

Limitation Act. Section 3 of the Limitation Act provides for

the bar of limitation. It provides that subject to the

provisions contained in Sections 4 to 24 (inclusive), every

suit instituted, appeal preferred, and application made after

the prescribed period shall be dismissed although limitation

has not been set up as a defence. “Prescribed period”

means that period of limitation computed in accordance

with the provisions of the Limitation Act. “Period of

limitation” means the period of limitation prescribed for any

suit, appeal or application by the Schedule to the Limitation

Act [vide Section 2(j) of the said Act]. Section 29 of the

Limitation Act relates to savings. Sub-section (2) thereof

which is relevant is extracted below:

“29. (2) Where any special or local law prescribes

for any suit, appeal or application a period of

limitation different from the period prescribed by

the Schedule, the provisions of Section 3 shall

apply as if such period were the period prescribed

by the Schedule and for the purpose of

determining any period of limitation prescribed for

any suit, appeal or application by any special or

local law, the provisions contained in Sections 4 to

24 (inclusive) shall apply only insofar as, and to

the extent to which, they are not expressly

excluded by such special or local law.”

41. Article 116 of the Schedule prescribes the period of

limitation for appeals to the High Court (90 days) and

appeals to any other court (30 days) under the Code of

Civil Procedure, 1908. It is now well settled that the words

“appeals under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908”

occurring in Article 116 refer not only to appeals preferred

under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but also to

appeals, where the procedure for filing of such appeals and

powers of the court for dealing with such appeals are

governed by the Code of Civil Procedure. (See decision of

the Constitution Bench in Vidyacharan Shukla v.

Khubchand Baghel [AIR 1964 SC 1099] .) Article 119(b) of

the Schedule prescribes the period of limitation for filing an

application (under the Arbitration Act, 1940), for setting

aside an award, as thirty days from the date of service of

notice of filing of the award.


42. The AC Act is no doubt, a special law, consolidating

and amending the law relating to arbitration and matters

connected therewith or incidental thereto. The AC Act does

not prescribe the period of limitation, for various

proceedings under that Act, except where it intends to

prescribe a period different from what is prescribed in the

Limitation Act. On the other hand, Section 43 makes the

provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963 applicable to

proceedings—both in court and in arbitration—under the

AC Act. There is also no express exclusion of application of

any provision of the Limitation Act to proceedings under the

AC Act, but there are some specific departures from the

general provisions of the Limitation Act, as for example, the

proviso to Section 34(3) and sub-sections (2) to (4) of

Section 43 of the AC Act.

43. Where the Schedule to the Limitation Act prescribes a

period of limitation for appeals or applications to any court,

and the special or local law provides for filing of appeals

and applications to the court, but does not prescribe any

period of limitation in regard to such appeals or

applications, the period of limitation prescribed in the

Schedule to the Limitation Act will apply to such appeals or

applications and consequently, the provisions of Sections 4

to 24 will also apply. Where the special or local law

prescribes for any appeal or application, a period of

limitation different from the period prescribed by the

Schedule to the Limitation Act, then the provisions of

Section 29(2) will be attracted. In that event, the provisions

of Section 3 of the Limitation Act will apply, as if the period

of limitation prescribed under the special law was the

period prescribed by the Schedule to the Limitation Act,

and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation

prescribed for the appeal or application by the special law,

the provisions contained in Sections 4 to 24 will apply to

the extent to which they are not expressly excluded by

such special law. The object of Section 29(2) is to ensure

that the principles contained in Sections 4 to 24 of the

Limitation Act apply to suits, appeals and applications filed

in a court under special or local laws also, even if it

prescribes a period of limitation different from what is

prescribed in the Limitation Act, except to the extent of

express exclusion of the application of any or all of those

provisions.”

24. When the Commercial Courts Act is applied to the aforesaid

appeals, given the definition of “specified value” and the provisions

contained in sections 10 and 13 thereof, it is clear that it is only when

the specified value is for a sum less than three lakh rupees that the

appellate provision contained in section 37 of the Arbitration Act will be governed, for the purposes of limitation, by Articles 116 and 117 of the Limitation Act. Shri Deshmukh’s argument that depending upon which

court decides a matter, a limitation period of either 30 or 90 days is

provided, which leads to arbitrary results, and that, therefore, the

uniform period provided by Article 137 of the Limitation Act should

govern appeals as well, is rejected. It is settled that periods of

limitation must always to some extent be arbitrary and may result in

some hardship, but this is no reason as to why they should not be

strictly followed. In Boota Mal v. Union of India, (1963) 1 SCR 70,

this Court referred to this aspect of the case, as follows:

“Ordinarily, the words of a statute have to be given their

strict grammatical meaning and equitable considerations

are out of place, particularly in provisions of law limiting the

period of limitation for filing suits or legal proceedings. This

was laid down by the Privy Council in two decisions in

Nagendranath v. Suresh [AIR(1932) PC 165] and General

Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Limited v.

Janmahomed Abdul Rahim [AIR (1941) PC 6] . In the first

case the Privy Council observed that “the fixation of

periods of limitation must always be to some extent

arbitrary and may frequently result in hardship. But in

construing such provisions equitable considerations are out

of place, and the strict grammatical meaning of the words

is the only safe guide”. In the latter case it was observed

that “a limitation Act ought to receive such a construction

as the language in its plain meaning imports … Great

hardship may occasionally be caused by statutes of

limitation in cases of poverty, distress and ignorance of

rights, yet the statutory rules must be enforced according to

their ordinary meaning in these and in other like cases”.”

(pages 74-75)

25. Shri Deshmukh’s other argument that since no period of limitation

has been provided in section 37 of the Arbitration Act, as a result of

which the neat division contained in the Limitation Act of different

matters contained in suits, appeals and applications will somehow

have to be destroyed, the word “appeals” has to be read into

“applications” so that Article 137 of the Limitation Act could apply, is

also rejected.

26. Even in the rare situation in which an appeal under section 37 of

the Arbitration Act would be of a specified value less than three lakh

rupees, resulting in Article 116 or 117 of the Limitation Act applying,

the main object of the Arbitration Act requiring speedy resolution of

disputes would be the most important principle to be applied when

applications under section 5 of the Limitation Act are filed to condone delay beyond 90 days and/or 30 days depending upon whether Article 116(a) or 116(b) or 117 applies. As a matter of fact, given the

timelines contained in sections 8, 9(2), 11(4), 11(13), 13(2)-(5), 29A,

29B, 33(3)-(5) and 34(3) of the Arbitration Act, and the observations

made in some of this Court’s judgments, the object of speedy

resolution of disputes would govern appeals covered by Articles 116

and 117 of the Limitation Act.

27. This Court in Union of India v. Popular Construction Co., (2001)

8 SCC 470, put it thus:

“14. Here the history and scheme of the 1996 Act support

the conclusion that the time-limit prescribed under Section

34 to challenge an award is absolute and unextendible by

court under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. The Arbitration

and Conciliation Bill, 1995 which preceded the 1996 Act

stated as one of its main objectives the need “to minimise

the supervisory role of courts in the arbitral process” [ Para

4(v) of the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996] . This objective has

found expression in Section 5 of the Act which prescribes

the extent of judicial intervention in no uncertain terms:

“5. Extent of judicial intervention.—

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other

law for the time being in force, in matters

governed by this Part, no judicial authority shall

intervene except where so provided in this Part.”

34

15. The “Part” referred to in Section 5 is Part I of the 1996

Act which deals with domestic arbitrations. Section 34 is

contained in Part I and is therefore subject to the sweep of

the prohibition contained in Section 5 of the 1996 Act.”

28. Likewise, in State of Goa v. Western Builders, (2006) 6 SCC

239, this Court, while stating that the provisions of section 14 of the

Limitation Act would apply to applications filed under section 34 of the

Arbitration Act, held:

“25. … It is true that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act,

1996 intended to expedite commercial issues expeditiously.

It is also clear in the Statement of Objects and Reasons

that in order to recognise economic reforms the settlement

of both domestic and international commercial disputes

should be disposed of quickly so that the country's

economic progress be expedited…”

29. The judgment in Kandla Export Corpn (supra) also observed:

“27. The matter can be looked at from a slightly different

angle. Given the objects of both the statutes, it is clear that

arbitration itself is meant to be a speedy resolution of

disputes between parties. Equally, enforcement of foreign

awards should take place as soon as possible if India is to

remain as an equal partner, commercially speaking, in the

international community. In point of fact, the raison d'être

for the enactment of the Commercial Courts Act is that

commercial disputes involving high amounts of money

should be speedily decided. Given the objects of both the

enactments, if we were to provide an additional appeal,

when Section 50 does away with an appeal so as to

speedily enforce foreign awards, we would be turning the

35

Arbitration Act and the Commercial Courts Act on their

heads. Admittedly, if the amount contained in a foreign

award to be enforced in India were less than Rs 1 crore,

and a Single Judge of a High Court were to enforce such

award, no appeal would lie, in keeping with the object of

speedy enforcement of foreign awards. However, if, in the

same fact circumstance, a foreign award were to be for Rs

1 crore or more, if the appellants are correct, enforcement

of such award would be further delayed by providing an

appeal under Section 13(1) of the Commercial Courts Act.

Any such interpretation would lead to absurdity, and would

be directly contrary to the object sought to be achieved by

the Commercial Courts Act viz. speedy resolution of

disputes of a commercial nature involving a sum of Rs 1

crore and over. For this reason also, we feel that Section

13(1) of the Commercial Courts Act must be construed in

accordance with the object sought to be achieved by the

Act. Any construction of Section 13 of the Commercial

Courts Act, which would lead to further delay, instead of an

expeditious enforcement of a foreign award must,

therefore, be eschewed. Even on applying the doctrine of

harmonious construction of both statutes, it is clear that

they are best harmonised by giving effect to the special

statute i.e. the Arbitration Act, vis-à-vis the more general

statute, namely, the Commercial Courts Act, being left to

operate in spheres other than arbitration.”

30. A recent judgment of this Court in ICOMM Tele Ltd. v. Punjab State

Water Supply and Sewerage Board, (2019) 4 SCC 401, states:

25. Several judgments of this Court have also reiterated

that the primary object of arbitration is to reach a final

disposal of disputes in a speedy, effective, inexpensive and

expeditious manner. Thus, in Centrotrade Minerals & Metal

Inc. v. Hindustan Copper Ltd. [Centrotrade Minerals &

Metal Inc. v. Hindustan Copper Ltd., (2017) 2 SCC 228 :

36

(2017) 1 SCC (Civ) 593] , this Court held: (SCC p. 250,

para 39)

“39. In Union of India v. U.P. State Bridge Corpn.

Ltd. [Union of India v. U.P. State Bridge Corpn.

Ltd., (2015) 2 SCC 52 : (2015) 1 SCC (Civ) 732]

this Court accepted the view [ Indu Malhotra, O.P.

Malhotra on the Law and Practice of Arbitration

and Conciliation (3rd Edn., Thomson Reuters,

2014).] that the A&C Act has four foundational

pillars and then observed in para 16 of the Report

that: (SCC p. 64)

‘16. First and paramount principle of the

first pillar is ‘fair, speedy and inexpensive

trial by an Arbitral Tribunal’. Unnecessary

delay or expense would frustrate the

very purpose of arbitration.””

31. Thus, from the scheme of the Arbitration Act as well as the

aforesaid judgments, condonation of delay under section 5 of the

Limitation Act has to be seen in the context of the object of speedy

resolution of disputes.

32. The bulk of appeals, however, to the appellate court under section

37 of the Arbitration Act, are governed by section 13 of the

Commercial Courts Act. Sub-section (1A) of section 13 of the

Commercial Courts Act provides the forum for appeals as well as the

limitation period to be followed, section 13 of the Commercial Courts Act being a special law as compared with the Limitation Act which is a general law, which follows from a reading of section 29(2) of the Limitation Act. Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act lays down a period of limitation of 60 days uniformly for all appeals that are preferred under section 37 of the Arbitration Act.1 As held in BGS SGS SOMA JV v. NHPC, (2020) 4 SCC 234, whereas section 37 of the Arbitration Act provides the substantive right to appeal, section 13 of the Commercial Courts Act provides the forum and procedure governing the appeal (see paragraph 13).

33. The vexed question which faces us is whether, first and foremost,

the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act is excluded by the

scheme of the Commercial Courts Act, as has been argued by Dr.

George. The first important thing to note is that section 13(1A) of the

Commercial Courts Act does not contain any provision akin to section 34(3) of the Arbitration Act. Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act only provides for a limitation period of 60 days from the date of the judgment or order appealed against, without further going into whether delay beyond this period can or cannot be condoned.

34. It may also be pointed out that though the object of expeditious

disposal of appeals is laid down in section 14 of the Commercial

Courts Act, the language of section 14 makes it clear that the period of six months spoken of is directory and not mandatory. By way of

contrast, section 16 of the Commercial Courts Act read with the

Schedule thereof and the amendment made to Order VIII Rule 1 of the CPC, would make it clear that the defendant in a suit is given 30 days to file a written statement, which period cannot be extended beyond 120 days from the date of service of the summons; and on expiry of the said period, the defendant forfeits the right to file the written statement and the court cannot allow the written statement to be taken on record. This provision was enacted as a result of the judgment of this Court in Salem Advocate Bar Assn. (II) v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 344.

35. In a recent judgment of this Court namely, SCG Contracts (India)

(P) Ltd. v. K.S. Chamankar Infrastructure (P) Ltd., (2019) 12 SCC

210, a Division Bench of this Court referred to the aforesaid

amendment and its hard and fast nature as follows:

“8. The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and

Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015

came into force on 23-10-2015 bringing in their wake

certain amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure. In

Order 5 Rule 1, sub-rule (1), for the second proviso, the

following proviso was substituted:

“Provided further that where the defendant fails to

file the written statement within the said period of

thirty days, he shall be allowed to file the written

statement on such other day, as may be specified

by the court, for reasons to be recorded in writing

and on payment of such costs as the court deems

fit, but which shall not be later than one hundred

twenty days from the date of service of summons

and on expiry of one hundred and twenty days

from the date of service of summons, the

defendant shall forfeit the right to file the written

statement and the court shall not allow the written

statement to be taken on record.”

Equally, in Order 8 Rule 1, a new proviso was substituted

as follows:

“Provided that where the defendant fails to file the

written statement within the said period of thirty

days, he shall be allowed to file the written

statement on such other day, as may be specified

by the court, for reasons to be recorded in writing

and on payment of such costs as the court deems

fit, but which shall not be later than one hundred

and twenty days from the date of service of

summons and on expiry of one hundred and

twenty days from the date of service of summons,

the defendant shall forfeit the right to file the

written statement and the court shall not allow the

written statement to be taken on record.”

This was re-emphasised by re-inserting yet another proviso

in Order 8 Rule 10 CPC, which reads as under:

“10. Procedure when party fails to present

written statement called for by court.—Where

any party from whom a written statement is

required under Rule 1 or Rule 9 fails to present

the same within the time permitted or fixed by the

court, as the case may be, the court shall

pronounce judgment against him, or make such

order in relation to the suit as it thinks fit and on

the pronouncement of such judgment a decree

shall be drawn up:

Provided further that no court shall make an order

to extend the time provided under Rule 1 of this

Order for filing of the written statement.”

A perusal of these provisions would show that ordinarily a

written statement is to be filed within a period of 30 days.

However, grace period of a further 90 days is granted

which the Court may employ for reasons to be recorded in

writing and payment of such costs as it deems fit to allow

such written statement to come on record. What is of great

importance is the fact that beyond 120 days from the date

of service of summons, the defendant shall forfeit the right

to file the written statement and the Court shall not allow

the written statement to be taken on record. This is further

buttressed by the proviso in Order 8 Rule 10 also adding

that the court has no further power to extend the time

beyond this period of 120 days.

9. In Bihar Rajya Bhumi Vikas Bank Samiti [State of Bihar

v. Bihar Rajya Bhumi Vikas Bank Samiti, (2018) 9 SCC 472

: (2018) 4 SCC (Civ) 387] , a question was raised as to

whether Section 34(5) of the Arbitration and Conciliation

Act, 1996, inserted by Amending Act 3 of 2016 is

mandatory or directory. In para 11 of the said judgment,

this Court referred to Kailash v. Nanhku [Kailash v. Nanhku,

(2005) 4 SCC 480] , referring to the text of Order 8 Rule 1

as it stood pre the amendment made by the Commercial

Courts Act. It also referred (in para 12) to Salem Advocate

Bar Assn. (2) v. Union of India [Salem Advocate Bar Assn.

(2) v. Union of India, (2005) 6 SCC 344] , which, like the

Kailash [Kailash v. Nanhku, (2005) 4 SCC 480] judgment,

held that the mere expression “shall” in Order 8 Rule 1

would not make the provision mandatory. This Court then

went on to discuss in para 17 of State v. N.S.

Gnaneswaran [State v. N.S. Gnaneswaran, (2013) 3 SCC

594 : (2013) 3 SCC (Cri) 235 : (2013) 1 SCC (L&S) 688] ,

in which Section 154(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure

was held to be directory inasmuch as no consequence was

provided if the section was breached. In para 22 by way of

contrast to Section 34, Section 29-A of the Arbitration Act

was set out. This Court then noted in para 23 as under:

(Bihar Rajya Bhumi Vikas Bank Samiti case [State of Bihar

v. Bihar Rajya Bhumi Vikas Bank Samiti, (2018) 9 SCC 472

: (2018) 4 SCC (Civ) 387] , SCC p. 489)

“23. It will be seen from this provision that, unlike

Sections 34(5) and (6), if an award is made

beyond the stipulated or extended period

contained in the section, the consequence of the

mandate of the arbitrator being terminated is

expressly provided. This provision is in stark

contrast to Sections 34(5) and (6) where, as has

been stated hereinabove, if the period for deciding

the application under Section 34 has elapsed, no

consequence is provided. This is one more

indicator that the same Amendment Act, when it

provided time periods in different situations, did so

intending different consequences.”

10. Several High Court judgments on the amended Order 8

Rule 1 have now held that given the consequence of nonfiling

of written statement, the amended provisions of the

CPC will have to be held to be mandatory. See Oku Tech

(P) Ltd. v. Sangeet Agarwal [Oku Tech (P) Ltd. v. Sangeet

Agarwal, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 6601] by a learned Single

Judge of the Delhi High Court dated 11-8-2016 in CS (OS)

No. 3390 of 2015 as followed by several other judgments

including a judgment of the Delhi High Court in Maja

Cosmetics v. Oasis Commercial (P) Ltd. [Maja Cosmetics v.

Oasis Commercial (P) Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine Del 6698]

11. We are of the view that the view taken by the Delhi

High Court in these judgments is correct in view of the fact

that the consequence of forfeiting a right to file the written

statement; non-extension of any further time; and the fact

that the Court shall not allow the written statement to be

taken on record all points to the fact that the earlier law on

Order 8 Rule 1 on the filing of written statement under

Order 8 Rule 1 has now been set at naught.”

36. By way of contrast, there is no such provision contained in section 13 of the Commercial Courts Act. The judgment in Hongo (supra), strongly relied upon by Dr. George, is clearly distinguishable. In Hongo (supra), section 35-H of the Central Excise Act provided for a

period of 180 days for filing a reference application to the High Court.

The scheme of the Central Excise Act was adverted to in paragraph

15 of the judgment, which reads as follows:

“15. We have already pointed out that in the case of appeal

to the Commissioner, Section 35 provides 60 days' time

and in addition to the same, the Commissioner has power

to condone the delay up to 30 days, if sufficient cause is

shown. Likewise, Section 35-B provides 90 days' time for

filing appeal to the Appellate Tribunal and sub-section (5)

therein enables the Appellate Tribunal to condone the delay

irrespective of the number of days, if sufficient cause is

shown. Likewise, Section 35-EE which provides 90 days'

time for filing revision by the Central Government and,

proviso to the same enables the revisional authority to

condone the delay for a further period of 90 days, if

sufficient cause is shown, whereas in the case of appeal to

the High Court under Section 35-G and reference to the

High Court under Section 35-H of the Act, total period of

180 days has been provided for availing the remedy of

appeal and the reference. However, there is no further

clause empowering the High Court to condone the delay

after the period of 180 days.”

37. The Court then went on to observe:

“33. Even otherwise, for filing an appeal to the

Commissioner, and to the Appellate Tribunal as well as

revision to the Central Government, the legislature has

provided 60 days and 90 days respectively, on the other

hand, for filing an appeal and reference to the High Court

larger period of 180 days has been provided with to enable

the Commissioner and the other party to avail the same.

We are of the view that the legislature provided sufficient

time, namely, 180 days for filing reference to the High

Court which is more than the period prescribed for an

appeal and revision.

34. Though, an argument was raised based on Section 29

of the Limitation Act, even assuming that Section 29(2)

would be attracted, what we have to determine is whether

the provisions of this section are expressly excluded in the

case of reference to the High Court.

35. It was contended before us that the words “expressly

excluded” would mean that there must be an express

reference made in the special or local law to the specific

provisions of the Limitation Act of which the operation is to

be excluded. In this regard, we have to see the scheme of

the special law which here in this case is the Central

Excise Act. The nature of the remedy provided therein is

such that the legislature intended it to be a complete code

by itself which alone should govern the several matters

provided by it. If, on an examination of the relevant

provisions, it is clear that the provisions of the Limitation

Act are necessarily excluded, then the benefits conferred

therein cannot be called in aid to supplement the provisions

of the Act. In our considered view, that even in a case

where the special law does not exclude the provisions of

Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act by an express

reference, it would nonetheless be open to the court to

examine whether and to what extent, the nature of those

provisions or the nature of the subject-matter and scheme

of the special law exclude their operation. In other words,

the applicability of the provisions of the Limitation Act,

therefore, is to be judged not from the terms of the

Limitation Act but by the provisions of the Central Excise

Act relating to filing of reference application to the High

Court.

36. The scheme of the Central Excise Act, 1944 supports

the conclusion that the time-limit prescribed under Section

35-H(1) to make a reference to the High Court is absolute

and unextendable by a court under Section 5 of the

Limitation Act. It is well-settled law that it is the duty of the

court to respect the legislative intent and by giving liberal

interpretation, limitation cannot be extended by invoking

the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act.”

38. Unlike the scheme of the Central Excise Act relied upon in Hongo (supra), there are no other provisions in the Commercial Courts Act which provide for a period of limitation coupled with a condonation ofdelay provision which is either open-ended or capped. Also, the period of 180 days provided was one indicia which led the Court to exclude the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act, as it was double and triple the period provided for appeals under the other provisions of the

same Act. Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, by way of

contrast, applies an intermediate period of 60 days for filing an appeal,

that is, a period that is halfway between 30 days and 90 days provided

by Articles 116 and 117 of the Limitation Act.

39. The other judgments relied upon by Dr. George are all

distinguishable in that they are judgments which deal with provisions

that provide for a period of limitation and a period of condonation of

delay beyond which delay cannot be condoned, such as section 125

of the Electricity Act. (See Suryachakra Power Corpn. Ltd. v.

Electricity Deptt., (2016) 16 SCC 152 at paragraph 10; ONGC v.

Gujarat Energy Transmission Corpn. Ltd., (2017) 5 SCC 42 at

paragraphs 5-10).

40. Section 21 of the Commercial Courts Act was also pressed into

service stating that the non-obstante clause contained in the

Commercial Courts Act would override other Acts, including the

Limitation Act, as a result of which, the applicability of section 5

thereof would be excluded. This argument has been addressed in the

context of the IBC in B.K. Educational Services (P) Ltd. v. Parag

Gupta & Associates, (2019) 11 SCC 633, as follows:

“41. Shri Dholakia argued that the Code being complete in

itself, an intruder such as the Limitation Act must be shut

out also by application of Section 238 of the Code which

provides that, “notwithstanding anything inconsistent

therewith contained in any other law for the time being in

force”, the provisions of the Code would override such

laws. In fact, Section 60(6) of the Code specifically states

as follows:

“60. Adjudicating authority for corporate

persons.—(1)-(5) * * *

(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in the

Limitation Act, 1963 (36 of 1963) or in any other

law for the time being in force, in computing the

period of limitation specified for any suit or

application by or against a corporate debtor for

which an order of moratorium has been made

under this Part, the period during which such

moratorium is in place shall be excluded.”

This provision would have been wholly unnecessary if the

Limitation Act was otherwise excluded either by reason of

the Code being complete in itself or by virtue of Section

238 of the Code. Both, Section 433 of the Companies Act

as well as Section 238-A of the Code, apply the provisions

of the Limitation Act “as far as may be”. Obviously,

therefore, where periods of limitation have been laid down

in the Code, these periods will apply notwithstanding

anything to the contrary contained in the Limitation Act.

From this, it does not follow that the baby must be thrown

out with the bathwater. This argument, therefore, must also

be rejected.”

41. For all these reasons we reject the argument made by Shri George that the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act is excluded given the scheme of Commercial Courts Act.

42. The next important argument that needs to be addressed is as to

whether the hard and fast rule applied by this Court in N.V.

International (supra) is correct in law. Firstly, as has correctly been

argued by Shri Shroti, N.V. International (supra) does not notice the

provisions of the Commercial Courts Act at all and can be said to be

per incuriam on this count. Secondly, it is also correct to note that the

period of 90 days plus 30 days and not thereafter mentioned in section

34(3) of the Arbitration Act cannot now apply, the limitation period for

filing of appeals under the Commercial Courts Act being 60 days and

not 90 days. Thirdly, the argument that absent a provision curtailing

the condonation of delay beyond the period provided in section 13 of

the Commercial Courts Act would also make it clear that any such

bodily lifting of the last part of section 34(3) into section 37 of the

Arbitration Act would also be unwarranted. We cannot accept Shri

Navare’s argument that this is a mere casus omissus which can be

filled in by the Court.

43. The difference between interpretation and legislation is sometimes

a fine one, as it has repeatedly been held that judges do not merely

interpret the law but also create law. In Eera v. State (NCT of Delhi),

(2017) 15 SCC 133, this Court was faced with the interpretation of

section 2(1)(d) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,

2012. This provision reads as follows:

“(2)(1)(d) "child" means any person below the age of

eighteen years;”

44. The argument made before the Court was that the age of 18 years

did not only refer to physical age, but could also refer to the mental

age of the “child” as defined. This Court was therefore faced with the

difficulty between interpreting the law as it stands, and legislating. The

concurring judgment of Nariman, J. put it thus:

“103. Having read the erudite judgment of my learned

Brother, and agreeing fully with him on the conclusion

reached, given the importance of the Montesquiean

separation of powers doctrine where the judiciary should

not transgress from the field of judicial law-making into the

field of legislative law-making, I have felt it necessary to

add a few words of my own.

104. Mr Sanjay R. Hegde, the learned Amicus Curiae, has

argued before us that the interpretation of Section 2(1)(d)

of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,

2012 cannot include “mental” age as such an interpretation

would be beyond the “Lakshman Rekha” — that is, it is no

part of this Court's function to add to or amend the law as it

stands. This Court's function is limited to interpreting the

law as it stands, and this being the case, he has exhorted

us not to go against the plain literal meaning of the statute.

105. Since Mr Hegde's argument raises the constitutional

spectre of separation of powers, let it first be admitted that

under our constitutional scheme, Judges only declare the

law; it is for the legislatures to make the law. This much at

least is clear on a conjoint reading of Articles 141 and 245

of the Constitution of India, which are set out hereinbelow:

“141. Law declared by Supreme Court to be

binding on all courts.—The law declared by the

Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts

within the territory of India.

***

245. Extent of laws made by Parliament and

by the legislatures of States.—(1) Subject to the

provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may

make laws for the whole or any part of the territory

of India, and the legislature of a State may make

laws for the whole or any part of the State.

(2) No law made by Parliament shall be deemed

to be invalid on the ground that it would have

extra-territorial operation.”

(emphasis supplied)

106. That the legislature cannot “declare” law is embedded

in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. Bills of attainder, which used

to be passed by Parliament in England, have never been

passed from the 18th century onwards. A legislative

judgment is anathema. As early as 1789, the US

Constitution expressly outlawed bills of attainder vide

Article I Section 9(3). This being the case with the

legislature, the counter-argument is that the Judiciary

equally cannot “make” but can only “declare” law. While

declaring the law, can Judges make law as well?...”

45. The concurring judgment went on to state:

“127. It is thus clear on a reading of English, US, Australian

and our own Supreme Court judgments that the

“Lakshman Rekha” has in fact been extended to move

away from the strictly literal rule of interpretation back to

the rule of the old English case of Heydon [Heydon case,

(1584) 3 Co Rep 7a : 76 ER 637] , where the Court must

have recourse to the purpose, object, text and context of a

particular provision before arriving at a judicial result. In

fact, the wheel has turned full circle. It started out by the

rule as stated in 1584 in Heydon case [Heydon case,

50

(1584) 3 Co Rep 7a : 76 ER 637] , which was then waylaid

by the literal interpretation rule laid down by the Privy

Council and the House of Lords in the mid-1800s, and has

come back to restate the rule somewhat in terms of what

was most felicitously put over 400 years ago in Heydon

case [Heydon case, (1584) 3 Co Rep 7a : 76 ER 637] .”

“139. A reading of the Act as a whole in the light of the

Statement of Objects and Reasons thus makes it clear that

the intention of the legislator was to focus on children, as

commonly understood i.e. persons who are physically

under the age of 18 years. The golden rule in determining

whether the judiciary has crossed the Lakshman Rekha in

the guise of interpreting a statute is really whether a Judge

has only ironed out the creases that he found in a statute in

the light of its object, or whether he has altered the material

of which the Act is woven. In short, the difference is the

well-known philosophical difference between “is” and

“ought”. Does the Judge put himself in the place of the

legislator and ask himself whether the legislator intended a

certain result, or does he state that this must have been the

intent of the legislator and infuse what he thinks should

have been done had he been the legislator. If the latter, it is

clear that the Judge then would add something more than

what there is in the statute by way of a supposed intention

of the legislator and would go beyond creative

interpretation of legislation to legislating itself. It is at this

point that the Judge crosses the Lakshman Rekha and

becomes a legislator, stating what the law ought to be

instead of what the law is.”

46. Ultimately, the judgment concluded:

“146. A reading of the Objects and Reasons of the

aforesaid Act together with the provisions contained therein

would show that whatever is the physical age of the person

affected, such person would be a “person with disability”

51

who would be governed by the provisions of the said Act.

Conspicuous by its absence is the reference to any age

when it comes to protecting persons with disabilities under

the said Act.

147. Thus, it is clear that viewed with the lens of the

legislator, we would be doing violence both to the intent

and the language of Parliament if we were to read the word

“mental” into Section 2(1)(d) of the 2012 Act. Given the fact

that it is a beneficial/penal legislation, we as Judges can

extend it only as far as Parliament intended and no further.

I am in agreement, therefore, with the judgment of my

learned Brother, including the directions given by him.”

47. Given the ‘lakshman rekha’ laid down in this judgment, it is a little

difficult to appreciate how a cap can be judicially engrafted onto a

statutory provision which then bars condonation of delay by even one

day beyond the cap so engrafted.

48. Shri George, however, relied upon the judgments of this Court in

Chandi Prasad v. Jagdish Prasad, (2004) 8 SCC 724 (at paragraph

22) and D. Purushotama Reddy v. K. Sateesh, (2008) 8 SCC 505 (at

paragraph 11), to support the reasoning contained in Varindera

Constructions (supra) and N.V. International (supra). He relied

strongly upon paragraph 11 of the judgment in D. Purushotama

Reddy v. K. Sateesh, (2008) 8 SCC 505, which reads as follows:

“11. We have noticed hereinbefore that whereas the

judgment of conviction and sentence was passed on 15-

12-2005, the suit was decreed by the civil court on 23-1-

52

2006. Deposit of a sum of Rs 2,00,000 by the appellants in

favour of the respondent herein, was directed by the

criminal court. Such an order should have been taken into

consideration by the trial court. An appeal from a decree,

furthermore, is a continuation of suit. The limitation of

power on a civil court should also be borne in mind by the

appellate court. Was any duty cast upon the civil court to

consider the amount of compensation deposited in terms of

Section 357 of the Code is the question.”

49. From this paragraph, what was sought to be argued was that the

limitation of power on a civil court at the initial stage can be read as a

limitation onto the appellate court, as was done in the aforesaid

judgments. We are afraid that we are unable to agree. This sentence

was in the context of a decree passed in a civil suit for a sum of rupees

3.09 lakh with interest, without taking into consideration the fact that an

amount of rupees 2.10 lakh had already been deposited by the

appellant in criminal proceedings. The Court relied upon section

357(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to hold that “the court”

shall take into account any sum paid or recovered as compensation at

the time of awarding compensation in any subsequent civil suit relating

to the same matter. “The court” would obviously include an appellate

court as well. It was only in this context that the aforesaid observation

of limitation of power on a civil court being “borne in mind” by the

appellate court, was made.

53

50. Shri George’s reliance upon the judgment of this Court in P. Radha

Bai v. P. Ashok Kumar, (2019) 13 SCC 445 (at paragraphs 36.2-36.3)

on the doctrine of unbreakability when applied to section 34(3) of the

Arbitration Act, also does not carry the matter much further, as the

question is whether this doctrine can be bodily lifted and engrafted

onto an appeal provision that has no cut-off point beyond which delay

cannot be condoned.

For all these reasons, given the illuminating arguments made in

these appeals, we are of the view that N.V. International (supra) has

been wrongly decided and is therefore overruled.

51. However, the matter does not end here. The question still arises as

to the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act to appeals which

are governed by a uniform 60-day period of limitation. At one extreme,

we have the judgment in N.V. International (supra) which does not

allow condonation of delay beyond 30 days, and at the other extreme,

we have an open-ended provision in which any amount of delay can

be condoned, provided sufficient cause is shown. It is between these

two extremes that we have to steer a middle course.

54

52. One judicial tool with which to steer this course is contained in the

latin maxim ut res magis valeat quam pereat. This maxim was fleshed

out in CIT v. Hindustan Bulk Carriers, (2003) 3 SCC 57 as follows:2

“14. A construction which reduces the statute to a futility

has to be avoided. A statute or any enacting provision

therein must be so construed as to make it effective and

operative on the principle expressed in the maxim ut res

magis valeat quam pereat i.e. a liberal construction should

be put upon written instruments, so as to uphold them, if

possible, and carry into effect the intention of the parties.

[See Broom's Legal Maxims (10th Edn.), p. 361, Craies on

Statutes (7th Edn.), p. 95 and Maxwell on Statutes (11th

Edn.), p. 221.]

15. A statute is designed to be workable and the

interpretation thereof by a court should be to secure that

object unless crucial omission or clear direction makes that

end unattainable. (See Whitney v. IRC [1926 AC 37 : 10

Tax Cas 88 : 95 LJKB 165 : 134 LT 98 (HL)] , AC at p. 52

referred to in CIT v. S. Teja Singh [AIR 1959 SC 352 :

(1959) 35 ITR 408] and Gursahai Saigal v. CIT [AIR 1963

SC 1062 : (1963) 48 ITR 1] .)

16. The courts will have to reject that construction which

will defeat the plain intention of the legislature even though

there may be some inexactitude in the language used.

(See Salmon v. Duncombe [(1886) 11 AC 627 : 55 LJPC

69 : 55 LT 446 (PC)] AC at p. 634, Curtis v. Stovin [(1889)

22 QBD 513 : 58 LJQB 174 : 60 LT 772 (CA)] referred to in

S. Teja Singh case [AIR 1959 SC 352 : (1959) 35 ITR

408].)

2 Followed in the separate opinion delivered by Pasayat, J. in Ashoka Kumar

Thakur v. Union of India, (2008) 6 SCC 1 (see paragraphs 333-334).

55

17. If the choice is between two interpretations, the

narrower of which would fail to achieve the manifest

purpose of the legislation, we should avoid a construction

which would reduce the legislation to futility, and should

rather accept the bolder construction, based on the view

that Parliament would legislate only for the purpose of

bringing about an effective result. (See Nokes v. Doncaster

Amalgamated Collieries [(1940) 3 All ER 549 : 1940 AC

1014 : 109 LJKB 865 : 163 LT 343 (HL)] referred to in Pye

v. Minister for Lands for NSW [(1954) 3 All ER 514 : (1954)

1 WLR 1410 (PC)] .) The principles indicated in the said

cases were reiterated by this Court in Mohan Kumar

Singhania v. Union of India [1992 Supp (1) SCC 594 : 1992

SCC (L&S) 455 : (1992) 19 ATC 881 : AIR 1992 SC 1] .

18. The statute must be read as a whole and one provision

of the Act should be construed with reference to other

provisions in the same Act so as to make a consistent

enactment of the whole statute.

19. The court must ascertain the intention of the legislature

by directing its attention not merely to the clauses to be

construed but to the entire statute; it must compare the

clause with other parts of the law and the setting in which

the clause to be interpreted occurs. (See R.S. Raghunath

v. State of Karnataka [(1992) 1 SCC 335 : 1992 SCC (L&S)

286 : (1992) 19 ATC 507 : AIR 1992 SC 81] .) Such a

construction has the merit of avoiding any inconsistency or

repugnancy either within a section or between two different

sections or provisions of the same statute. It is the duty of

the court to avoid a head-on clash between two sections of

the same Act. (See Sultana Begum v. Prem Chand Jain

[(1997) 1 SCC 373 : AIR 1997 SC 1006] .)

20. Whenever it is possible to do so, it must be done to

construe the provisions which appear to conflict so that

they harmonise. It should not be lightly assumed that

56

Parliament had given with one hand what it took away with

the other.

21. The provisions of one section of the statute cannot be

used to defeat those of another unless it is impossible to

effect reconciliation between them. Thus a construction that

reduces one of the provisions to a “useless lumber” or

“dead letter” is not a harmonised construction. To

harmonise is not to destroy.”

53. Reading the Arbitration Act and the Commercial Courts Act as a

whole, it is clear that when section 37 of the Arbitration Act is read with

either Article 116 or 117 of the Limitation Act or section 13(1A) of the

Commercial Courts Act, the object and context provided by the

aforesaid statutes, read as a whole, is the speedy disposal of appeals

filed under section 37 of the Arbitration Act. To read section 5 of the

Limitation Act consistently with the aforesaid object, it is necessary to

discover as to what the expression “sufficient cause” means in the

context of condoning delay in filing appeals under section 37 of the

Arbitration Act.

54. The expression “sufficient cause” contained in section 5 of the

Limitation Act is elastic enough to yield different results depending

upon the object and context of a statute. Thus, in Ajmer Kaur v. State

of Punjab, (2004) 7 SCC 381, this Court, in the context of section

11(5) of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, held as follows:

57

“10. Permitting an application under Section 11(5) to be

moved at any time would have disastrous consequences.

The State Government in which the land vests on being

declared as surplus, will not be able to utilise the same.

The State Government cannot be made to wait indefinitely

before putting the land to use. Where the land is utilised by

the State Government, a consequence of the order passed

subsequently could be of divesting it of the land. Taking the

facts of the present case by way of an illustration, it would

mean that the land which stood mutated in the State

Government in 1982 and which was allotted by the State

Government to third parties in 1983, would as a result of

reopening the settled position, lead to third parties being

asked to restore back the land to the State Government

and the State Government in turn would have to be

divested of the land. The land will in turn be restored to the

landowner. This will be the result of the land being declared

by the Collector as not surplus with the landowner. The

effect of permitting such a situation will be that the land will

remain in a situation of flux. There will be no finality. The

very purpose of the legislation will be defeated. The allottee

will not be able to utilise the land for fear of being divested

in the event of deaths and births in the family of the

landowners. Deaths and births are events which are bound

to occur. Therefore, it is reasonable to read a time-limit in

sub-section (5) of Section 11. The concept of reasonable

time in the given facts would be most appropriate. An

application must be moved within a reasonable time. The

facts of the present case demonstrate that redetermination

under sub-section (5) of Section 11 almost 5 years after the

death of Kartar Kaur and more than 6 years after the order

of the Collector declaring the land as surplus had become

final, has resulted in grave injustice besides defeating the

object of the legislation which was envisaged as a socially

beneficial piece of legislation. Thus we hold that the

application for redetermination filed by Daya Singh under

sub-section (5) of Section 11 of the Act on 21-6-1985 was

58

liable to be dismissed on the ground of inordinate delay

and the Collector was wrong in reopening the issue

declaring the land as not surplus in the hands of Daya

Singh and Kartar Kaur.

11. The above reasoning is in consonance with the

provision in sub-section (7) of Section 11 of the Act. Subsection

(7) uses the words “where succession has opened

after the surplus area or any part thereof has been

determined by the Collector …”. The words “determined by

the Collector” would mean that the order of the Collector

has attained finality. The provisions regarding appeals, etc.

contained in Sections 80-82 of the Punjab Tenancy Act,

1887, as made applicable to proceedings under the Punjab

Land Reforms Act, 1972, show that the maximum period of

limitation in case of appeal or review is ninety days. The

appeal against the final order of the Collector dated 30-9-

1976 whereby 3.12 hectares of land had been declared as

surplus was dismissed on 27-3-1979. The order was

allowed to become final as it was not challenged any

further. Thus the determination by the Collector became

final on 27-3-1979. The same could not be reopened after

a lapse of more than 6 years by order dated 23-7-1985.

The subsequent proceedings before the Revenue

Authorities did not lie. The order dated 23-7-1985 is non

est. All the subsequent proceedings therefore fall through.

The issue could not have been reopened.”

(emphasis supplied)

55. Nearer home, in Brahampal v. National Insurance Company,

2020 SCC OnLine SC 1053, this Court specifically referred to the

difference between a delay in filing commercial claims under the

Arbitration Act or the Commercial Courts Act and claims under the

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, as follows:

59

“16. This Court has firstly held that purpose of conferment

of such power must be examined for the determination of

the scope of such discretion conferred upon the court.

[refer to Bhaiya Punjalal Bhagwandin v. Dave

Bhagwatprasad Prabhuprasad, AIR 1963 SC 120; Shri

Prakash Chand Agarwal v. Hindustan Steel Ltd., (1970) 2

SCC 806]. Our analysis of the purpose of the Act suggests

that such discretionary power is conferred upon the Courts,

to enforce the rights of the victims and their dependents.

The legislature intended that Courts must have such power

so as to ensure that substantive justice is not trumped by

technicalities.

(emphasis supplied)

“22. Therefore, the aforesaid provision being a beneficial

legislation, must be given liberal interpretation to serve its

object. Keeping in view the substantive rights of the parties,

undue emphasis should not be given to technicalities. In

such cases delay in filing and refiling cannot be viewed

strictly, as compared to commercial claims under the

Arbitration and Concilliation Act, 1996 or the Commercial

Courts Act, 2015. In P. Radha Bai v. P. Ashok Kumar,

(2019) 13 SCC 445, wherein this Court while interpreting

Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, held that the right to object

to an award itself is substantively bound with the limitation

period prescribed therein and the same cannot merely a

procedural prescription. In effect the Court held that a

complete petition, has to be filed within the time prescribed

under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act and ‘not thereafter’.

The Court while coming to the aforesaid conclusion,

reasoned as under:

“36.1 First, the purpose of the Arbitration Act was

to provide for a speedy dispute resolution

process. The Statement of Objects and Reasons

reveal that the legislative intent of enacting the

Arbitration Act was to provide parties with an

60

efficient alternative dispute resolution system

which gives litigants an expedited resolution of

disputes while reducing the burden on the courts.

Article 34(3) reflects this intent when it defines the

commencement and concluding period for

challenging an award. This Court in Popular

Construction case [Union of India v. Popular

Construction Co., (2001) 8 SCC 470] highlighted

the importance of the fixed periods under the

Arbitration Act. We may also add that the

finality is a fundamental principle enshrined

under the Arbitration Act and a definitive timelimit

for challenging an award is necessary for

ensuring finality. If Section 17 were to be

applied, an award can be challenged even after

120 days. This would defeat the Arbitration Act's

objective of speedy resolution of disputes. The

finality of award would also be in a limbo as a

party can challenge an award even after the 120

day period.”

(emphasis in original)

“23. Coming back to the Motor Vehicles Act, the legislative

intent is to provide appropriate compensation for the

victims and to protect their substantive rights, in pursuit of

the same, the interpretation should not be as strict as

commercial claims as elucidated above.

24. Undoubtedly, the statute has granted the Courts with

discretionary powers to condone the delay, however at the

same time it also places an obligation upon the party to

justify that he was prevented from abiding by the same due

to the existence of “sufficient cause”. Although there exists

no strait jacket formula for the Courts to condone delay, but

the Courts must not only take into consideration the entire

facts and circumstances of case but also the conduct of the

parties. The concept of reasonableness dictates that, the

61

Courts even while taking a liberal approach must weigh in

the rights and obligations of both the parties. When a right

has accrued in favour of one party due to gross negligence

and lackadaisical attitude of the other, this Court shall

refrain from exercising the aforesaid discretionary relief.

25. Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances

of the present case, we are of the opinion that the delay of

45 days has been properly explained by the appellants,

which was on account of illness of the wife of Appellant No.

1. It was not appropriate on the part of the High Court to

dismiss the appeal merely on the ground of delay of short

duration, particularly in matters involving death in motor

accident claims. Moreover, in the present case no mala

fide can be imputable against the appellants for filing the

appeal after the expiry of ninety days. Therefore, we are of

the opinion that the strict approach taken in the impugned

order is hyper-technical and cannot be sustained in the

eyes of law.”

(emphasis supplied)

56. Given the object sought to be achieved under both the Arbitration

Act and the Commercial Courts Act, that is, the speedy resolution of

disputes, the expression “sufficient cause” is not elastic enough to

cover long delays beyond the period provided by the appeal provision

itself. Besides, the expression “sufficient cause” is not itself a loose

panacea for the ill of pressing negligent and stale claims. This Court,

in Basawaraj v. Land Acquisition Officer, (2013) 14 SCC 81, has

held:

“9. Sufficient cause is the cause for which the defendant

could not be blamed for his absence. The meaning of the

62

word “sufficient” is “adequate” or “enough”, inasmuch as

may be necessary to answer the purpose intended.

Therefore, the word “sufficient” embraces no more than

that which provides a platitude, which when the act done

suffices to accomplish the purpose intended in the facts

and circumstances existing in a case, duly examined from

the viewpoint of a reasonable standard of a cautious man.

In this context, “sufficient cause” means that the party

should not have acted in a negligent manner or there was a

want of bona fide on its part in view of the facts and

circumstances of a case or it cannot be alleged that the

party has “not acted diligently” or “remained inactive”.

However, the facts and circumstances of each case must

afford sufficient ground to enable the court concerned to

exercise discretion for the reason that whenever the court

exercises discretion, it has to be exercised judiciously. The

applicant must satisfy the court that he was prevented by

any “sufficient cause” from prosecuting his case, and

unless a satisfactory explanation is furnished, the court

should not allow the application for condonation of delay.

The court has to examine whether the mistake is bona fide

or was merely a device to cover an ulterior purpose. (See

Manindra Land and Building Corpn. Ltd. v. Bhutnath

Banerjee [AIR 1964 SC 1336] , Mata Din v. A. Narayanan

[(1969) 2 SCC 770 : AIR 1970 SC 1953] , Parimal v. Veena

[(2011) 3 SCC 545 : (2011) 2 SCC (Civ) 1 : AIR 2011 SC

1150] and Maniben Devraj Shah v. Municipal Corpn. of

Brihan Mumbai [(2012) 5 SCC 157 : (2012) 3 SCC (Civ) 24

: AIR 2012 SC 1629] .)

10. In Arjun Singh v. Mohindra Kumar [AIR 1964 SC 993]

this Court explained the difference between a “good cause”

and a “sufficient cause” and observed that every “sufficient

cause” is a good cause and vice versa. However, if any

difference exists it can only be that the requirement of good

cause is complied with on a lesser degree of proof than

that of “sufficient cause”.

63

11. The expression “sufficient cause” should be given a

liberal interpretation to ensure that substantial justice is

done, but only so long as negligence, inaction or lack of

bona fides cannot be imputed to the party concerned,

whether or not sufficient cause has been furnished, can be

decided on the facts of a particular case and no straitjacket

formula is possible. (Vide Madanlal v. Shyamlal [(2002) 1

SCC 535 : AIR 2002 SC 100] and Ram Nath Sao v.

Gobardhan Sao [(2002) 3 SCC 195 : AIR 2002 SC 1201] .)

12. It is a settled legal proposition that law of limitation may

harshly affect a particular party but it has to be applied with

all its rigour when the statute so prescribes. The court has

no power to extend the period of limitation on equitable

grounds. “A result flowing from a statutory provision is

never an evil. A court has no power to ignore that provision

to relieve what it considers a distress resulting from its

operation.” The statutory provision may cause hardship or

inconvenience to a particular party but the court has no

choice but to enforce it giving full effect to the same. The

legal maxim dura lex sed lex which means “the law is hard

but it is the law”, stands attracted in such a situation. It has

consistently been held that, “inconvenience is not” a

decisive factor to be considered while interpreting a statute.

13. The statute of limitation is founded on public policy, its

aim being to secure peace in the community, to suppress

fraud and perjury, to quicken diligence and to prevent

oppression. It seeks to bury all acts of the past which have

not been agitated unexplainably and have from lapse of

time become stale. According to Halsbury's Laws of

England, Vol. 28, p. 266:

“605. Policy of the Limitation Acts.—The courts

have expressed at least three differing reasons

supporting the existence of statutes of limitations

64

namely, (1) that long dormant claims have more of

cruelty than justice in them, (2) that a defendant

might have lost the evidence to disprove a stale

claim, and (3) that persons with good causes of

actions should pursue them with reasonable

diligence.”

An unlimited limitation would lead to a sense of insecurity

and uncertainty, and therefore, limitation prevents

disturbance or deprivation of what may have been acquired

in equity and justice by long enjoyment or what may have

been lost by a party's own inaction, negligence or laches.

(See Popat and Kotecha Property v. SBI Staff Assn.

[(2005) 7 SCC 510] , Rajender Singh v. Santa Singh

[(1973) 2 SCC 705 : AIR 1973 SC 2537] and Pundlik Jalam

Patil v. Jalgaon Medium Project [(2008) 17 SCC 448 :

(2009) 5 SCC (Civ) 907] .)

14. In P. Ramachandra Rao v. State of Karnataka [(2002) 4

SCC 578 : 2002 SCC (Cri) 830 : AIR 2002 SC 1856] this

Court held that judicially engrafting principles of limitation

amounts to legislating and would fly in the face of law laid

down by the Constitution Bench in Abdul Rehman Antulay

v. R.S. Nayak [(1992) 1 SCC 225 : 1992 SCC (Cri) 93 : AIR

1992 SC 1701] .

15. The law on the issue can be summarised to the effect

that where a case has been presented in the court beyond

limitation, the applicant has to explain the court as to what

was the “sufficient cause” which means an adequate and

enough reason which prevented him to approach the court

within limitation. In case a party is found to be negligent, or

for want of bona fide on his part in the facts and

circumstances of the case, or found to have not acted

diligently or remained inactive, there cannot be a justified

ground to condone the delay. No court could be justified in

condoning such an inordinate delay by imposing any

65

condition whatsoever. The application is to be decided only

within the parameters laid down by this Court in regard to

the condonation of delay. In case there was no sufficient

cause to prevent a litigant to approach the court on time

condoning the delay without any justification, putting any

condition whatsoever, amounts to passing an order in

violation of the statutory provisions and it tantamounts to

showing utter disregard to the legislature.”

(emphasis supplied)

57. Likewise, merely because the government is involved, a different

yardstick for condonation of delay cannot be laid down. This was

felicitously stated in Postmaster General v. Living Media India Ltd.,

(2012) 3 SCC 563 [“Postmaster General”], as follows:

“27. It is not in dispute that the person(s) concerned were

well aware or conversant with the issues involved including

the prescribed period of limitation for taking up the matter

by way of filing a special leave petition in this Court. They

cannot claim that they have a separate period of limitation

when the Department was possessed with competent

persons familiar with court proceedings. In the absence of

plausible and acceptable explanation, we are posing a

question why the delay is to be condoned mechanically

merely because the Government or a wing of the

Government is a party before us.

28. Though we are conscious of the fact that in a matter of

condonation of delay when there was no gross negligence

or deliberate inaction or lack of bona fides, a liberal

concession has to be adopted to advance substantial

justice, we are of the view that in the facts and

circumstances, the Department cannot take advantage of

various earlier decisions. The claim on account of

impersonal machinery and inherited bureaucratic

66

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.

29. In our view, 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 bona fide 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 the government departments. The law shelters

everyone under the same light and should not be swirled

for the benefit of a few.”

58. The decision in Postmaster General (supra) has been followed in the

following subsequent judgments of this Court:

i) State of Rajasthan v. Bal Kishan Mathur, (2014) 1 SCC 592 at

paragraphs 8-8.2;

ii) State of U.P. v. Amar Nath Yadav, (2014) 2 SCC 422 at

paragraphs 2-3;

iii) State of T.N. v. N. Suresh Rajan, (2014) 11 SCC 709 at

paragraphs 11-13; and

iv) State of M.P. v. Bherulal, (2020) 10 SCC 654 at paragraphs 3-4.

67

59. In a recent judgment, namely, State of M.P. v. Chaitram

Maywade, (2020) 10 SCC 667, this Court referred to Postmaster

General (supra), and held as follows:

“1. The State of Madhya Pradesh continues to do the same

thing again and again and the conduct seems to be

incorrigible. The special leave petition has been filed after a

delay of 588 days. We had an occasion to deal with such

inordinately delayed filing of the appeal by the State of

Madhya Pradesh in State of M.P. v. Bherulal [State of M.P.

v. Bherulal, (2020) 10 SCC 654] in terms of our order dated

15-10-2020.

2. We have penned down a detailed order in that case and

we see no purpose in repeating the same reasoning again

except to record what are stated to be the facts on which

the delay is sought to be condoned. On 5-1-2019, it is

stated that the Government Advocate was approached in

respect of the judgment delivered on 13-11-2018 [Chaitram

Maywade v. State of M.P., 2018 SCC OnLine HP 1632] and

the Law Department permitted filing of the SLP against the

impugned order on 26-5-2020. Thus, the Law Department

took almost about 17 months' time to decide whether the

SLP had to be filed or not. What greater certificate of

incompetence would there be for the Legal Department!

3. We consider it appropriate to direct the Chief Secretary

of the State of Madhya Pradesh to look into the aspect of

revamping the Legal Department as it appears that the

Department is unable to file appeals within any reasonable

period of time much less within limitation. These kinds of

excuses, as already recorded in the aforesaid order, are no

more admissible in view of the judgment in Postmaster

General v. Living Media (India) Ltd. [Postmaster General v.

Living Media (India) Ltd., (2012) 3 SCC 563 : (2012) 2 SCC

68

(Civ) 327 : (2012) 2 SCC (Cri) 580 : (2012) 1 SCC (L&S)

649]

4. We have also expressed our concern that these kinds of

the cases are only “certificate cases” to obtain a certificate

of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a quietus to the

issue. The object is to save the skin of officers who may be

in default. We have also recorded the irony of the situation

where no action is taken against the officers who sit on

these files and do nothing.

5. Looking to the period of delay and the casual manner in

which the application has been worded, the wastage of

judicial time involved, we impose costs on the petitioner

State of Rs 35,000 to be deposited with the Mediation and

Conciliation Project Committee. The amount be deposited

within four weeks. The amount be recovered from the

officer(s) responsible for the delay in filing and sitting on

the files and certificate of recovery of the said amount be

also filed in this Court within the said period of time. We

have put to Deputy Advocate General to caution that for

any successive matters of this kind the costs will keep on

going up.”

60. Also, it must be remembered that merely because sufficient cause

has been made out in the facts of a given case, there is no right in the

appellant to have delay condoned. This was felicitously put in Ramlal

v. Rewa Coalfields Ltd., (1962) 2 SCR 762 as follows:

“It is, however, necessary to emphasise that even after

sufficient cause has been shown a party is not entitled to

the condonation of delay in question as a matter of right.

The proof of a sufficient cause is a condition precedent for

the exercise of the discretionary jurisdiction vested in the

court by s. 5. If sufficient cause is not proved nothing

further has to be done; the application for condoning delay

has to be dismissed on that ground alone. If sufficient

cause is shown then the Court has to enquire whether in its

discretion it should condone the delay. This aspect of the

matter naturally introduces the consideration of all relevant

facts and it is at this stage that diligence of the party or its

bona fides may fall for consideration; but the scope of the

enquiry while exercising the discretionary power after

sufficient cause is shown would naturally be limited only to

such facts as the Court may regard as relevant. It cannot

justify an enquiry as to why the party was sitting idle during

all the time available to it. In this connection we may point

out that considerations of bona fides or due diligence are

always material and relevant when the Court is dealing with

applications made under s. 14 of the Limitation Act. In

dealing with such applications the Court is called upon to

consider the effect of the combined provisions of ss. 5 and

14. Therefore, in our opinion, considerations which have

been expressly made material and relevant by the

provisions of s. 14 cannot to the same extent and in the

same manner be invoked in dealing with applications which

fall to be decided only under s. 5 without reference to s.

14.”

(page 771)

61. Given the aforesaid and the object of speedy disposal sought to be

achieved both under the Arbitration Act and the Commercial Courts

Act, for appeals filed under section 37 of the Arbitration Act that are

governed by Articles 116 and 117 of the Limitation Act or section

13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, a delay beyond 90 days, 30

days or 60 days, respectively, is to be condoned by way of exception

and not by way of rule. In a fit case in which a party has otherwise

acted bona fide and not in a negligent manner, a short delay beyond

such period can, in the discretion of the court, be condoned, always

bearing in mind that the other side of the picture is that the opposite

party may have acquired both in equity and justice, what may now be

lost by the first party’s inaction, negligence or laches.

62. Coming to the facts of the appeals before us, in the Civil Appeal

arising out of SLP (C) No. 665 of 2021, the impugned judgment of the

High Court of Bombay, dated 17.12.2020, has found that the Govt of

Maharashtra had not approached the court bona fide, as follows:

“7. I have carefully gone through the papers. There can be

no doubt in view of the documentary evidence in the form

of copy of the application tendered by the Advocate

representing the applicant for obtaining a certified copy

(Exhibit-R1) that in fact, after pronouncement of the

judgment and order in the proceeding under Section 34 of

the Act, the concerned Advocate had applied for certified

copy on 14.05.2019. The endorsement further reads that it

was to be handed over to Mr. A.D. Patil of the Irrigation

Department, Dhule, who is a staff from the office of the

applicant. The further endorsements also clearly show that

the certified copy was ready and was to be delivered on

27.05.2019. [In spite] of such a stand and document, the

applicant has not controverted this or has not come up with

any other stand touching this aspect. It is therefore

apparent that the applicant is not coming to the Court with

clean hands even while seeking the discretionary relief of

condonation of delay”


63. Apart from this, there is a long delay of 131 days beyond the 60-

day period provided for filing an appeal under section 13(1A) of the

Commercial Courts Act. There is no explanation worth the name

contained in the condonation of delay application, beyond the usual

file-pushing and administrative exigency. This appeal is therefore

dismissed.

64. In the Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) No. 15278 of 2020, the

impugned judgment of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh dated

27.01.2020 relies upon Consolidated Engg. (supra) and thereby

states that the judgment of this Court in N.V. International (supra)

would not apply. The judgment of the High Court is wholly incorrect

inasmuch as Consolidated Engg. (supra) was a judgment which

applied the provisions of section 14 of the Limitation Act and had

nothing to do with the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act.

N.V. International (supra) was a direct judgment which applied the

provisions of section 5 of the Limitation Act and then held that no

condonation of delay could take place beyond 120 days. The High

Court was bound to follow N.V. International (supra), as on the date

of the judgment of the High Court, N.V. International (supra) was a

judgment of two learned judges of the Supreme Court binding upon

the High Court by virtue of Article 141 of the Constitution. On this

score, the impugned judgment of the High Court deserves to be set

aside.

65. That apart, on the facts of this appeal, there is a long delay of 75

days beyond the period of 60 days provided by the Commercial

Courts Act. Despite the fact that a certified copy of the District Court’s

judgment was obtained by the respondent on 27.04.2019, the appeal

was filed only on 09.09.2019, the explanation for delay being:

“2. That, the certified copy of the order dated 01/04/2013

was received by the appellant on 27/04/2019. Thereafter

the matter was placed before the CGM purchase

MPPKVVCL for the compliance of the order. The same was

then sent to the law officer, MPPKVVCL for opinion.

3. That after taking opinion for appeal, and approval of the

concerned authorities, the officer-in-charge was appointed

vide order dated 23/07/2019.

4. That, thereafter due to bulky records of the case and for

procurement of the necessary documents some delay has

been caused however, the appeal has been prepared and

filed to pursuant to the same and further delay.

5. That due to the aforesaid procedural approval and since

the appellant is a public entity formed under the Energy

department of the State Government, the delay caused in

filing the appeal is bonafide and which deserve[s] to be

condoned.”


66. This explanation falls woefully short of making out any sufficient

cause. This appeal is therefore allowed and the condonation of delay

is set aside on this score also.

67. In the Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) Diary No. 18079 of 2020,

there is a huge delay of 227 days in filing the appeal, and a 200-day

delay in refiling. The facts of this case also show that there was no

sufficient cause whatsoever to condone such a long delay. The

impugned judgment of the High Court of Delhi dated 15.10.2019

cannot be faulted on this score and this appeal is consequently

dismissed.

68. Appeals disposed of accordingly.

…………………..………………J.

(R. F. Nariman)

……………..……………………J.

(B.R. Gavai)

……………..……………………J.

(Hrishikesh Roy)

New Delhi.

March 19, 2021.

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