Observing that there must be 'sufficient cause' in the application to condone the delay, the Madras High Court held that though the word 'sufficient cause' mentioned in Section 5 of the Limitation Act is normally approached liberally, however, there must be acceptable and palpable reason in the petition to give such liberal approach.

The Bench of Justice V. Bhavani Subbaroyan, therefore, reiterated that “if a party has been thoroughly negligent in implementing its rights and remedies, it will be equally unfair to deprive the other party of a valuable right that has accrued to it in law as a result of his acting vigilantly”.

Advocate T. Gowthaman appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate T. Thiyagarajan appeared for the Respondent.

In a nutshell, the petitioner (plaintiff) had sought to condone the delay of 1835 days in representing the plaint in the original suit, which was filed to declare the title of the petitioner in respect of the Schedule 'B' petition mentioned property and for a relief of permanent injunction. The said plaint was originally presented before the court on Feb 20, 2013 and the same was returned by the Registry for rectifying certain defects by granting time of one month for representation. Whereas, the petitioner failed to represent the same within the said time. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petition on the ground that no prima facie case was made out and that there was no sufficient reason let in on the side of the petitioner to condone the delay. Hence, the present petition.

After considering the arguments, the Bench found that the original suit was filed in the year 2013 and representation of the plaint was filed only in the year 2018, i.e., after a lapse of 5 years.

In the said application, the petitioner has placed the entire blame upon his previous counsel and has stepped into the witness box and adduced evidence as witness. Moreover, it is also seen that when the respondent/defendant has earlier filed O.S on the file of District Musif Court, Tambaram, the petitioner has contested the case through the same previous counsel. While so, there is no explanation rendered by the petitioner as to why he was not vigilant in contesting the present suit, added the Bench.

The High Court noted that merely stating that the erstwhile counsel did not inform the petitioner regarding proceedings of the present suit, that to he was busy in attending the proceedings in connection with the earlier suit, cannot be a sufficient reason for condoning the delay in representing the plaint in the suit.

The reason stated is not a sufficient cause shown for setting aside the dismissal as the delay is 1835 days. At the same time, it is no doubt true that the certain duties would cast upon the counsels also to make their earnest effort in communicating the status of the court proceedings to their clients. But, still, as far as the present case on hand is concerned, the court has permitted the parties to adduce evidence”, added the Court.

The Bench, therefore, observed that the petitioner has not shown any sufficient and valid reason for the delay of 1835 days in preferring the petition, as the reasons assigned by the petitioner that he was unable to follow the suit due to the pressure of his professional work and due to the pendency of other civil and criminal proceedings, lacks bona fide.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the revision petition.

Cause Title: V. Narayanasamy v. Vanchikodi

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