Condonation of Delay is defined under section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963. It is the extension of the prescribed period in some instances to make an application or go for an appeal. Section 5 of Limitation Act is not applicable for filing suit as it is an exception to the Act. For taking the benefit of the Doctrine, the applicant must have sufficient cause to condone the delay. It is the discretion of the Court to do so after the applicant states sufficient reason. The Doctrine applies only to the Criminal Proceedings because it does not prohibit any other Sections.
To file an appeal, the Code of Civil Procedure has not prescribed a period of limitation. Whereas the Limitation Act, 1963 has provided the period to file an appeal in the court. It is stated that the appeals can be filed in a High Court against a decree or order within ninety days. And in any other court, the appeal can be filed within thirty days from the date of the decree or order. The period to file the limitation is for the general welfare. As the law is enacted to protect only diligent and vigilant people, courts shall be convinced with a sufficient cause to get the delay to be condoned.
Following are some reasons for filing an application of Delay Condonation:
- Mislead by rulings
- Mistake of counsel
- Mistake of law
- Mistake of Court
- Delay in getting certified copies
- Inability to act, etc.
Condonation of delay, Rule 3-A: For the proceedings of delay condonation, rule 3-A has been inserted by the Amendment Act of 1976. Rule 3-A states that when an appeal is presented before the court after the expiry of the specified period, it shall be accompanied by an application consisting the sufficient cause for not going for an appeal within the time.
Before inserting rule 3 - A, in the amendment Act, the general practice was to admit an appeal subject to an opinion regarding limitation.
In the case of State of M.P vs Pradeep Kumar, the SC stated that the provision described is two-fold in the rule;
- to inform the appellant that the delayed appeal will not be entertained unless an application accompanying the delay accompanies it.
- to communicate with the respondent that he is willing to do so on the merits mentioned. The provision is directory and not mandatory.
The practice of the Supreme Court in filing the Delay condonation for the special leave petition:
The Special Leave Petition must be filed within ninety days from the date of the order of the High Court. If the petition is filed after the expiry of that period, then an application of delay condonation must be filed, stating the reasons for not filing the petition within the specified time. The SC has the power to condone the delay in filing a special leave petition under exceptional circumstances. The petitioner has to explain the delay of each and every day. The court has the power of not condoning the delay if the reasons given to the petitioner does not convince it. Moreover, if the court satisfies with the sufficient cause that prevents the petitioner from filing the petition, it would issue a notice to the respondent to mention the reason for why the delay of the petitioner shall not be condoned.
Subject to the provisions of Sections mentioned in the limitation act, 1963, every petition instituted, appeal preferred, and the application filed after the prescribed period is dismissed. As per Section 3(1) 'Period of limitation’ means the period prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the Act and meaning of ‘prescribed period’ means the period of limitation computed as per provisions of the Act.
The Act has prescribed the period in the Schedule of Act. The prescribed period is as follows:
- For a suit relating to contracts, accounts, declarations, recovery of lawsuits. Suits relating to movable property, etc. the prescribed period is three years.
- For suits relating to possession of the immovable property, the period is 12 years and for suits related to the mortgaged property, the period is 30 years.
- For suits relating to torts, one year is the prescribed period. Moreover, in the case of compensation for three years.
- In case of an appeal under the Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code - 30 to 90 days.
Section 4 states the provision that, if the court is closed on the last day of limitation, the suit, application or an appeal can be filed on very next day when the court reopens. It is based on the principle "actus curiae neminem gravabit", which means that an act of court shall not prejudice anyone. The court can condone the delay if satisfied that it causes were beyond the control of the plaintiff.
Section 9 of the limitation act states that when the limitation period starts running, it continues when there is any disability or inability to make an application. However, if the person is disabled at the time of filing a suit or an application, the limitation period will start after the disability of the person is removed.