April 13, 2024 In Uncategorized



A two- Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Prasanna B. Varale passed an Order dated 08.04.2024 in Civil Appeal No. Of 2024 (Arising Out Of SLP (C) No.14974 Of 2022) in K.B. Lal (Krishna Bahadur Lal) Vs. Gyanendra Pratap & Ors. and held that the Appellant failed to provide proper justification for the delay of 11 years to file the First Application under Order IX, Rule 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) (Procedure where defendant appears on day of adjourned hearing and assigns good cause for previous non-appearance) along with an Affidavit for Condonation of Delay and upheld the decision of the lower Courts.


i) A plot of land located in Gharsaniya village, Pargana Dewa, Tehsil-Nawabganj, District-Barabanki, was sold by Mr. Kalawati (Respondent No. 4) to Mr. Mansa Ram (Respondent No. 5) through a Sale Deed dated 30.03.2006. Following this, Respondent No. 5 sold the property to the Appellant, Mr. Krishna Bahadur Lal via a registered Sale Deed dated 13.04.2006.

ii) On 22.04.2006, Respondent Nos. 1, 2, and 3 filed a Civil Suit seeking a permanent injunction and the cancellation of the Sale Deed dated 30.03.2006, before the Ld. Civil Judge (Jr. Division), Barabanki. The Appellant was named as Defendant No. 3 in the Suit. It was argued before the Ld. Trial Court by Respondent Nos. 1, 2, and 3 that Respondent No. 4 did not possess transferable rights or title to the property when the Sale Deed was executed on 30.03.2006, in favor of Respondent No. 5. Therefore, they contended that the property could not have been sold to Respondent No. 5. Respondent Nos. 1, 2, and 3 claimed their rights over the property before the Trial Court, stating that they were the bhumidhar and joint owners of the property. They also asserted possession over the property, stating that their uncle, the predecessor-in-interest, had executed a Will Deed dated 20.05.1997, in their favor.

iii) After the Appellant’s Counsel filed the Vakalatnama on 22.04.2006, the Trial Court passed an Order on 06.09.2006, proceeding Ex-Parte against the Appellant due to their failure to submit Written Statements despite being duly served. The Appellant later sought to recall this Order through an Application under Order IX, Rule 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) (Procedure where defendant appears on day of adjourned hearing and assigns good cause for previous non-appearance) which was filed on 01.09.2017, after a delay of 11 years, citing reasons such as not receiving the summons and having an advocate from another city who did not diligently pursue the case. However, this Application was not pursued before the Ld. Trial Court in 2017 due to inaccuracies in the facts stated. Subsequently, another Application under Order IX, Rule 7 of the CPC was filed by the Appellant on 23.11.2020.

iv) But the same was again dismissed by the Ld. Trial Court vide Order dated 07.10.2021 as the Ld. Trial Court stated that these explanations were based on contradictory statements and wrong facts and there was no reasonable cause given by the Appellant.

v) Aggrieved by the Order dated 07.10.2021 of the Ld. Trial Court, the Appellant preferred a Revision, which was before the Additional District Judge, Barabanki (Revisional Court). The Revisional Court observed that the Appellant’s initial Application in 2017 under Order IX, Rule 7 of the CPC was not pursued due to errors made by the appointed advocate. Subsequently, a Second Application was filed in 2020 with the correct information, but both Applications were signed by the same advocate. Despite the Appellant’s claim of being misled by their former Counsel, there was no mention of the Counsel’s identity. Considering these factors, the Revisional Court upheld the Trial Court’s decision to dismiss the Appellant’s request to recall an Order from 2006, citing a 14-year delay without sufficient explanation. Thus, the Revisional Court vide Order dated 28.03.2023 dismissed the Civil Revision file by the Appellant.

vi) Aggrieved by the Order date 28.03.2022 of the Revisional Court, the Appellant filed a Petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, invoking the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court of Allahabad.

vii) The High Court of Allahabad vide Order dated 19.05.2022 upheld the Orders of the lower Courts and dismissed the Petition of the Appellant filed before the High Court.

viii) Aggrieved by the Order dated 19.05.2022 of the High Court, the Appellant filed Civil Appeal No. Of 2024 (Arising Out Of SLP (C) No.14974 Of 2022) before the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court vide Order dated 08.04.2024, made the following observations:

1) The Apex Court observed that although the term “sufficient cause” has not been defined in the Limitation Act, it is well settled through a catena of decisions that 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 to ensure that deserving and meritorious cases are not dismissed solely on the grounds of delay.

2) The Supreme Court relied on the judgment of Esha Bhattacharjee v. Managing Committee of Raghunathpur Nafar Academy & Ors., (2013) 12 SCC 649 wherein the principals are summarized for the condonation of delay by the Supreme Court:

“21.1. (i) There should be a liberal, pragmatic, justice-oriented, non-pedantic approach while dealing with an application for condonation of delay, for the courts are not supposed to legalise injustice but are obliged to remove injustice. 21.2. (ii) The terms “sufficient cause” should be understood in their proper spirit, philosophy and purpose regard being had to the fact that these terms are basically elastic and are to be applied in proper perspective to the obtaining fact-situation. 21.3. (iii) Substantial justice being paramount and pivotal the technical considerations should not be given undue and uncalled for emphasis. 21.4. (iv) No presumption can be attached to deliberate causation of delay but, gross negligence on the part of the counsel or litigant is to be taken note of. 21.5. (v) Lack of bona fides imputable to a party seeking condonation of delay is a significant and relevant fact. 21.6. (vi) It is to be kept in mind that adherence to strict proof should not affect public justice and cause public mischief because the courts are required to be vigilant so that in the ultimate eventuate there is no real failure of justice. 21.7. (vii) The concept of liberal approach has to encapsulate the conception of reasonableness and it cannot be allowed a totally unfettered free play. 21.8. (viii) There is a distinction between inordinate delay and a delay of short duration or few days, for to the former doctrine of prejudice is attracted whereas to the latter it may not be attracted. That apart, the first one warrants strict approach whereas the second calls for a liberal delineation. 21.9. (ix) The conduct, behaviour and attitude of a party relating to its inaction or negligence are relevant factors to be taken into consideration. It is so as the fundamental principle is that the courts are required to weigh the scale of balance of justice in respect of both parties and the said principle cannot be given a total go by in the name of liberal approach. 21.10. (x) If the explanation offered is concocted, or the grounds urged in the application are fanciful, the courts should be vigilant not to expose the other side unnecessarily to face such a litigation.”


The Supreme Court after reviewing the Appellant’s Application under Order IX, Rule 7 of the CPC dated 23.11.2020, along with the Affidavit seeking condonation of a 14-year delay, it was found that the Appellant failed to provide satisfactory reasons for the delay. Despite knowing about the Court’s Ex-Parte decision since 2011, the Appellant only filed the First Application in 2017. The Appellant’s explanation regarding negligent legal representation lacked evidence. The Supreme Court therefore, upheld the rightful dismissal of the Appellant’s delayed claim of the Ld. Trial Court, Revisional Court, and High Court and therefore found no justification to overturn the decision of the High Court dated 19.05.2022.

Kartik Khandekar


The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services



The Law casts a duty on a litigant to be vigilant of his/her rights and to exercise the rights within the statutory time period. One of the important maxims in law is “Equity aids the vigilant”. Delay or Laches is an equitable principle where courts can deny a valid claim if the courts feel that the litigant has unreasonably delayed the exercise of his right. This is precisely what happened in the above case and hence it is advisable that anyone who wants to exercise their legal right must be vigilant and watchful of the time within which he can exercise the right.

Sushila Ram Varma

Chief Consultant

The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services

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