SC:Governments can’t walk in when they choose ignoring limitation period

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 16th October 2020, in the matter of The State of Madhva Pradesh & Ors. v. Bherulal, observed that the Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed. Where there are such inordinate delays in filing appeals/petitions by the Government or State authorities, they must pay for wastage of judicial time. Such costs can be recovered from the officers responsible.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

The Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the period of limitation prescribed. If the Government machinery is so inefficient and incapable of filing appeals/petitions in time, the solution may lie in requesting the Legislature to expand the time period for filing limitation for Government authorities because of their gross incompetence. That is not so. Till the Statute subsists, the appeals/petitions have to be filed as per the Statues prescribed. (Para 2)

No doubt, some leeway is given for the Government inefficiencies but the sad part is that the authorities keep on relying on judicial pronouncements for a period of time when technology had not advanced and a greater leeway was given to the Government (Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantnag & Anr vs. Mst. Katiji & Ors. (1987) 2 SCC 107). (Para 3) 

A preposterous proposition is sought to be propounded that if there is some merit in the case, the period of delay is to be given a go-by. If a case is good on merits, it will succeed in any case. It is really a bar of limitation which can even shut out good cases. This does not, of course, take away the jurisdiction of the Court in an appropriate case to condone the delay.(Para 5)

Where there are such inordinate delays that the Government or State authorities coming before the Supreme Court must pay for wastage of judicial time which has its own value. Such costs can be recovered from the officers responsible. (Para 7)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_15-Oct-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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