Reiterating the condonation of delay by court must be on a sufficient ground, the Delhi High Court has held that the condonation of delay for filing of an appeal under section 37 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 read with section 13 of commercial court, commercial division and commercial appellate division of the High Court Act, 2015 cannot be allowed if its strikes at the object and the spirits behind the commercial courts act.
The judgement was passed by the division bench of justice GS sistani and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal
The Central Government and associated construction company had entered into a contract for the provision of OTM accommodation for CASD at Delhi Cantt. Subsequently certain disputes arose during the execution of work between the parties and arbitration was invoked as per the terms of the contract.
The Sole arbitrator awarded a sum of Rs. 49,25,240/- with a simple interest of 12% per annum with respect to certain claims in favour of associated construction.
After getting disappointed by the award given by Sole arbitrator, central government move the court under section 34 of the arbitration act. The same was dismissed by a single judge bench on the ground that the Sole Arbitrator had pronounced the award in consonance with the award.
Aggrieved by the dismissal the central government present and appeal under section 37 of arbitration act.
After perusing the fact, the court noted that at the outset, the central government was seeking condonation of 227 days delay in filing the present appeal and 200 days in re-filing of the appeal. It was argued by the central government that delay was not deliberate rather it was bonafide, delay caused due to the procedural delays arising out of government hierarchies.
Associated construction also argued that section 5 of the limitation act has to be construed in a narrow manner for the purpose of commercial court acts and the present case did not make out any sufficient cause for condonation of delay.
The court has stated that although the Supreme court has through consistently spoken about the liberal approach to section 5 of the limitation act but the essence of sufficient cause has always been given importance while deciding the application seeking condonation of delay.
“Condoning the delay is a matter of discretion which will only be available if a person does not sleep over his rights and also is able to show sufficient cause or explanation for such delay”
The court opined that the grounds for condonation of delay put forth by the central government were baseless and vague as they failed to show any sufficient cause for the delay.
“ it is the case of the appellant that he has no knowledge about the impugned order and acquired the knowledge about the same in the first instance when the impugned order was uploaded on the web. Thereafter, certain rounds in the government department also led to the delay. We find these grounds baseless and vague and the same failed to show any valid sufficient cause for the delay. “
In view of the above court concluded that there were no cogent grounds to condone the delay and then appeal was dismissed.
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