The Allahabad High Court has held that if the delay in approaching court has occurred for reasons which do not smack of mala fide, the Court should be reluctant to refuse condonation.

The Bench of Justice Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Vivek Varma observed that such delay should not be deliberate, negligent, and due to the casual approach of the concerned litigant, but, it should be bona fide, and, for the reasons beyond his control.

"If the explanation does not smack of lack of bona fide, the Court should show due consideration to the suiter, but, when there is apparent casual approach on the part of suiter, the approach of Court is also bound to change", the Court held.

In this case, a review application was filed after a delay of six years. It was alleged that the review applicants were not in a position to file the review as they were not aware of the legal provisions. The applicants also argued that they could not file the review application within time due to the blockage of public transportation on account of COVID-19 guidelines.

Advocate Madan Mohan Chaurasiya appearing on behalf of the applicants submitted that he had advised his clients that they may take a chance by filing the review application after a period of six years.

"We are pained to note that an advocate should not give such an advise when there is no error apparent on the face of record nor was there any other reason that why the matter be re-agitated after it was finally decided", the Court noted.

The Court observed that the facts of the case will not permit it to condone the delay in filing the review application. And to that end held "In the instant case, the delay in filing the substitution application was condoned on 06.10.2016, and by the same order the appeal was also decided as the identical issue arising out of same reference order was involved in First Appeal No. 31 of 2011, which came to be decided with the same directions way back in the year 2014. We do not find any reason to condone the delay of six years, which is not explained as to why this review application is filed after such an inordinate delay."

The Court further observed that total inaction for a long period of delay without any explanation whatsoever and that too without showing any sincere attempt on the part of suiter would add to his negligence, and would be a relevant factor going against him.

The Court placed reliance on a catena of decisions explaining and laying down as to what should be the approach of the Court on construing "sufficient cause" under Section 5 of Limitation Act, 1963.

"we find that here is a case which shows a complete careless and reckless long delay on the part of applicants which has remained virtually unexplained at all. Therefore, we do not find any reason to exercise our judicial discretion exercising judiciously so as to justify condonation of delay in the present case", the Court held while dismissing the application seeking condonation of delay.

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