These revision petitions arise out of the identical order of learned State Commission involving same facts; hence, decided by common order.
2. Revision Petition No. 3542 of 2013 has been filed by the petitioner against the order dated 24.05.2013 passed by the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Jaipur (in short, ‘the State Commission’) in Appeal No. 275 of 2013 – United India Ins. Co. Ltd. Vs. Smt. Lalita Devi andRevision Petition No. 3543 of 2013 has been filed by the petitioner against the order dated 24.05.2013 passed by the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Jaipur (in short, ‘the State Commission’) in Appeal No. 281 of 2013 – United India Ins. Co. Ltd. Vs. Smt. Lalita Devi by which, while dismissing appeals, orders of District Forum allowing complaints were upheld.
3. Brief facts of the case are that complainant’s/respondent’s husband Ramji Lal purchased vehicle No. RJ36-U-0061 on 22.11.2006 and on the same day vehicle was registered in his name. On 24.11.2006, husband of complainant submitted application with OP/petitioner for transfer of insurance policy in his name. On 16.6.2007, husband of complainant died in road accident on account of which, purchased vehicle was damaged. OP had also covered risk of personal accident for Rs.2,00,000/- by charging premium of Rs.100/-. OP has not transferred insurance of vehicle in her husband’s name. Alleging deficiency on the part of OP, complainant filed two separate complaints before District Forum pertaining to loss of vehicle and personal accident coverage. OP resisted complaints and submitted that policy was in the name of Mukesh Kumar who was not related to the complainant and as complainant’s husband could not get the policy transferred in his name, OP has not committed any deficiency and prayed for dismissal of complaint. Learned District Forum after hearing both the parties allowed complaints and directed complainants to submit claim after completing all the formalities required by Insurance Company and OP was directed to transfer the policy in the name of complainant within one month and settle the claim and was awarded cost of Rs.5,000/- towards mental agony and Rs.1500/- as cost of litigation. Appeals filed by OP were dismissed by learned State Commission vide impugned orders against which, these revision petitions have been filed along with application for condonation of delay of 36 days.
4. Heard learned Counsel for the parties finally at admission stage and perused record.
5. Learned Counsel for the petitioner submitted that delay of 36 days occurred in obtaining legal opinion from panel advocates and necessary official approval from different offices which may be condoned. I deem it appropriate to condone the delay for reasons mentioned in the application for condonation of delay of 36 days in filing revision petitions and 36 days delay stands condoned.
6. Perusal of impugned order reveals that learned State Commission has neither discussed facts of the case, nor contentions of the appellant raised in memo of appeal whereas learned State Commission ought to have discussed all the facts and legal issues raised by the parties.
7. Learned Counsel for the petitioners submitted that impugned order is not a speaking order; hence, revision petitions be allowed and impugned order be set aside. On the other hand, learned Counsel for the respondents submitted that as only direction has been given to the petitioner to transfer the insurance policy and settle the claim; even if, impugned order is not a speaking order, revision petition be dismissed.
8. Hon’ble Apex Court in (2001) 10 SCC 659 – HVPNL Vs. Mahavir observed as under:
“1.In a number of cases coming up in appeal in this Court, we find that the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Haryana at Chandigarh is passing a standard order in the following terms:
‘We have heard the Law Officer of HVPN – appellant and have also perused the impugned order. We do not find any legal infirmity in the detailed and well-reasoned order passed by District Forum, Kaithal. Accordingly, we uphold the impugned order and dismiss the appeal’.
2. We may point out that while dealing with a first appeal, this is not the way to dispose of the matter. The appellate forum is bound to refer to the pleadings of the case, the submissions of the counsel, necessary points for consideration, discuss the evidence and dispose of the matter by giving valid reasons. It is very easy to dispose of any appeal in this fashion and the higher courts would not know whether learned State Commission had applied its mind to the case. We hope that such orders will not be passed by the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Haryana at Chandigarh in future. A copy of this order may be communicated to the Commission”.
9. In the light of above judgment, it becomes clear that Appellate Court while deciding an appeal is required to deal with all the facts and arguments raised by the appellant and as learned State Commission has not dealt with any facts of the case and arguments of the appellant, it would be appropriate to remand the matter back to the learned State Commission for disposal by speaking order after dealing with all the contentions and arguments raised by the petitioner.
10. Consequently, Revision Petition No. 3542 of 2013 filed by the petitioner against the order dated 24.05.2013 passed by the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Jaipur (in short, ‘the State Commission’) in Appeal No. 275 of 2013 – United India Ins. Co. Ltd. Vs. Smt. Lalita Devi andRevision Petition No. 3543 of 2013 filed by the petitioner against the order dated 24.05.2013 passed by the Rajasthan State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Jaipur (in short, ‘the State Commission’) in Appeal No. 281 of 2013 – United India Ins. Co. Ltd. Vs. Smt. Lalita Devi is set aside and matter is remanded back to the learned State Commission for deciding it by speaking order after giving an opportunity of being heard to the parties.
11. Parties are directed to appear before the learned State Commission on 2.9.2014. A copy of this order may be sent to the Rajasthan State Commission, Jaipur.
( K.S. CHAUDHARI, J)
NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION NEW DELHI
REVISION PETITION NO. 2884 OF 2012
(Against the order dated 20.12.2011 in First Appeal No. 2986/2004 of the State Commission Haryana, Panchkula)
1. Haryana Urban Development Authority Sector-6, Panchkula through its Chief Administrator Panchkula
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE AJIT BHARIHOKE, PRESIDING MEMBER
HON’BLE MRS REKHA GUPTA, MEMBER
For the Petitioner (s) : Ms. Anubha Agarwal, Advocate
For the Respondent (s) : Nemo
PRONOUNCED ON : 25th JULY, 2014
JUSTICE AJIT BHARIHOKE, PRESIDING MEMBER
This revision is directed against the order of the State Commission Haryana Panchkula dated 20.12.2011 whereby the State Commission confirmed the order of the order of the District Forum Panchkula which reads as under:
“The instant complaint is hereby allowed and the OPs are hereby directed:
a. To pay interest at the rate of 18% per annum on the amount deposited before 07.05.1998 w.e.f.07.05.1998 till 14.05.2001 and on the amount deposited after 7.5.98 w.e.f. the date of deposit till 14.5.01; and
b. Also to pay Rs.1000/- as cost of proceedings.
Let the order be complied with within a period of one month from today”.
2. The revision petition, however, has been filed after the expiry of 90 days of period of limitation as provided under Regulation 14 of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2005 with the delay of 112 days as per the Registry and 108 days as per the petitioner. The petitioner, therefore, has moved an application for condonation of delay.
3. The explanation given for the delay in filing of the revision petition is given in para 2 of the application for condonation of delay which is reproduced thus:
“That after receipt of the copy of the impugned order from the counsel for the petitioner, the same was analysed by the petitioner in view of the financial implications and policy issues involved therein. Considering the importance of the matter, it was thereafter decided by the petitioner that revision petition may be filed challenging the orders passed by the forums below. Hence, necessary approvals were taken for filing the said revision petition. The governmental procedures in respect of seeking sanctions, collecting relevant documents form concerned departments and preparing and filing the present revision petition has resulted in unavoidable delay of 108 days, which is unintentional, unavoidable and highly regretted”.
4. Ld. Ms. Anubha Agarwal, Advocate for the petitioner has contended that the delay caused in filing of revision petition is unintentional and it has occurred due to circumstances beyond the control of the petitioner. It is argued that the petitioner is a government organization and it has nothing to gain by filing the revision petition. It is further argued that petitioner has a strong case on merits and if the delay is not condoned, the petitioner would suffer grave injustice. In support of her contention, learned counsel for the petitioner has relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter of State of Nagaland V. Lipok Ao (2005) 3 SCC 752, Bhag Singh & Ors. Vs. Major Daljit Singh & Ors. 1987 Supp. SCC 685 and N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy (1998) 7 SCC 123.
5. We have considered the submissions made on behalf of the petitioner. The explanation for delay given by the petitioner is far from satisfactory. On reading the above noted explanation, we find that it is highly vague and the delay is attributed to the bureaucratic procedures which work at snail’s pace. Thus, we find no reason to condone the delay.
6. Before adverting to the explanation given for the delay, it would be useful to have a look on the law relating to condonation of delay.
In the matter of State of Nagaland Vs. Lipok Ao (supra), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:
“Experience shows that on account of an impersonal machinery (no one in charge of the matter is directly hit or hurt by the judgment sought to be subjected to appeal) and the inherited bureaucratic methodology imbued with the note-making, file-pushing, and passing-on- the-buck ethos, delay on its part is less difficult to understand though more difficult to approve. The State which represents collective cause of the community, does not deserve a litigant-non-grata status. The courts, therefore, have to be informed with the spirit and philosophy of the provision in the course of the interpretation of the expression of sufficient cause. Merit is preferred to scuttle a decision on merits in turning down the case on technicalities of delay in presenting the appeal.
It is axiomatic that decisions are taken by officers/agencies proverbially at slow pace and encumbered process of pushing the files from table to table and keeping it on table for considerable time causing delay - intentional or otherwise - is a routine. Considerable delay of procedural red-tape in the process of their making decision is a common feature. Therefore, certain amount of latitude is not impermissible. If the appeals brought by the State are lost for such default no person is individually affected but what in the ultimate analysis suffers, is public interest. The expression "sufficient cause" should, therefore, be considered with pragmatism in justice-oriented approach rather than the technical detection of sufficient cause for explaining every day's delay. The factors which are peculiar to and characteristic of the functioning of the governmental conditions would be cognizant to and requires adoption of pragmatic approach in justice- oriented process. The court should decide the matters on merits unless the case is hopelessly without merit”.
7. Similarly in the matters of Bhag Singh & Ors. Vs. Major Daljit Singh & Ors. (supra) and N. Balakrishnan v. M. Krishnamurthy (supra), the Supreme Court has highlighted the need of liberal approach while dealing with the request for condonation of delay and emphasized that the purpose of law of limitation is to ensure that the parties to the litigation should be vigilant and prompted in pursuing their case and the purpose is not to shut the doors of justice to a litigant who has a meritorious case.
8. In Ram Lal and Ors. Vs. Rewa Coalfields Ltd. AIR 1962 Supreme Court 361, it has been observed;
“It is, however, necessary to emphasize that even after sufficient cause has been shown a party is not entitled to the condonation of delay in question as a matter of right. The proof of a sufficient cause is a discretionary jurisdiction vested in the Court by S.5. If sufficient cause is not proved nothing further has to be done; the application for condonation has to be dismissed on that ground alone. If sufficient cause is shown then the Court has to enquire whether in its discretion it should condone the delay. This aspect of the matter naturally introduces the consideration of all relevant facts and it is at this stage that diligence of the party or its bona fides may fall for consideration; but the scope of the enquiry while exercising the discretionary power after sufficient cause is shown would naturally be limited only to such facts as the Court may regard as relevant”.
9. In R.B. Ramlingam Vs. R.B. Bhavaneshwari, 2009 (2) Scale 108 Apex Court has observed ;
“We hold that in each and every case the Court has to examine whether delay in filing the special appeal leave petitions stands properly explained. This is the basic test which needs to be applied. The true guide is whether the petitioner has acted with reasonable diligence in the prosecution of his appeal/petition.
10. Hon’ble Supreme Court in Anshul Aggarwal vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, IV (2011) CPJ 63 (SC) laid down that;
“It is also apposite to observe that while deciding an application filed in such cases for condonation of delay, the Court has to keep in mind that the special period of limitation has been prescribed under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, for filing appeals and revisions in Consumer matters and the object of expeditious adjudication of the Consumer disputes will get defeated, if this Court was to entertain highly belated petitions filed against the orders of the Consumer Foras”.
11. Recently, Hon’ble Supreme Court in Post Master General and others vs. Living Media India Ltd. and another (2012) 3 Supreme Court Cases 563has held:
28. Though we are conscious of the fact that in a matter of condonation of delay when there was no gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack of bonafide, a liberal concession has to be adopted to advance substantial justice, we are of the view that in the facts and circumstances, the Department cannot take advantage of various earlier decisions. The claim on account of impersonal machinery and inherited bureaucratic methodology of making several notes cannot be accepted in view of the modern technologies being used and available. The law of limitation undoubtedly binds everybody including the Government.
29. In our view, it is the right time to inform all the government bodies, their agencies and instrumentalities that unless they have reasonable and acceptable explanation for the delay and there was bonafide effort, there is no need to accept the usual explanation that the file was kept pending for several months/years due to considerable degree of procedural red-tape in the process. The government departments are under a special obligation to ensure that they perform their duties with diligence and commitment. Condonation of delay is an exception and should not be used as an anticipated benefit for government departments. The law shelters everyone under the same light and should not be swirled for the benefit of a few.
30. Considering the fact that there was no proper explanation offered by the Department for the delay except mentioning of various dates, according to us, the Department has miserably failed to give any acceptable and cogent reasons sufficient to condone such a huge delay.
31. In view of our conclusion on Issue (a), there is no need to go into the merits of Issues (b) and (c). The question of law raised is left open to be decided in an appropriate case. 32.In the light of the above discussion, the appeals fail and are dismissed on the ground of delay. No order as to costs.”
12. On reading of the above judgments, it is clear that law relating to condonation of delay in filing the petition is well settled. The petitioner seeking condonation is required to explain each and every day of delay. Although the Hon’ble Supreme Court has cautioned that while dealing with the application of condonation of delay, the Courts should take liberal approach, yet the litigant is expected to be vigilant in pursuing his case. If the petitioner is found to be grossly negligent in conduct of the proceedings, he cannot expect indulgence of the Court. In the matter of Post Master General and others vs. Living Media India Ltd. and another (2012) 3 Supreme Court Cases 563,the Hon’ble Supreme Court has made it clear that government department cannot be treated on a different footing while dealing with the application of condonation of delay.
13. In the light of the above noted proposition of law, we now proceed to look into the explanation given by the petitioner department for delay in filing of the revision petition. The explanation given is far from satisfactory. It is pleaded that the delay has occurred because of time consumed in bureaucratic procedures, collecting relevant documents from concerned department and preparing and filing of the revision petition but for the above vague explanation, specific dates and the time consumed at various steps have not been given. The petitioner has not bothered to specify the time consumed at various stages of the movement of file from one seat to other. In absence of the above details, we do not find any reason to accept the vague explanation given by the petitioner for the inordinate delay of more than 100 days in filing of the revision petition.
14. Even on merits we find that order of the District Forum against the petitioner is well reasoned. The State Commission has also confirmed the order of the District Forum. There is no jurisdictional error in the impugned orders nor the petitioner has been able to show any material irregularity which may call for interference in exercise of the revisional jurisdiction.
15. In view of the discussion above, we do not find merit in the application for condonation of delay. It is accordingly dismissed. Since delay has not been condoned, the revision petition is also dismissed as barred by limitation.