KB Lal vs Gyanendra Pratap 2024 INSC 281 – Limitation Act – Sufficient Cause – Delay Condonation

Limitation Act, 1963; Section 5 – ‘Sufficient Cause’ – The term has to be construed liberally and in order to meet the ends of justice. The reason for giving the term a wide and comprehensive meaning is quite simple. It is to ensure that deserving and meritorious cases are not dismissed solely on the ground of delay – The discretionary power of a court to condone delay must be exercised judiciously and it is not to be exercised in cases where there is gross negligence and/or want of due diligence on part of the litigant (See Majji Sannemma @ Sanyasirao v. Reddy Sridevi & Ors. (2021) 18 SCC 384). The discretion is also not supposed to be exercised in the absence of any reasonable, satisfactory or appropriate explanation for the delay (See P.K. Ramachandran v. State of Kerala and Anr., (1997) 7 SCC 556) – The words ‘sufficient cause’ in Section 5 of the Limitation Act can only be given a liberal construction, when no negligence, nor inaction, nor want of bona fide is imputable to the litigant (See 8 Basawaraj and Anr. v. Special Land Acquisition Officer., (2013) 14 SCC 81). The principles which are to be kept in mind for condonation of delay – Referred to Esha Bhattacharjee v. Managing Committee of Raghunathpur Nafar Academy & Ors., (2013) 12 SCC 649.

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