In the world of disagreements, not finding a solution is like starting a journey without directions. PrivateCourt is your guide, making sure every problem finds a way to an amicable RESOLUTION!

Private Court Symbol
The International Court of ARBITRATION


Got any

Write to us

Share this page

The Kerala High Court's Discretion in Condoning Delay: In a noteworthy legal development, the Kerala High Court recently exercised its discretion by condoning a delay of 25 days in the filing of an appeal under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. This decision was predicated on the key consideration that the delay did not result in any harm or disadvantage to the opposing party. The Division Bench, consisting of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice Sophy Thomas, underscored the primary objective of the statute, which is to expedite the resolution of commercial disputes. In support of their decision, the bench referred to a crucial precedent set by the Supreme Court in the case of Government of Maharashtra (Water Resources Department) represented by Executive Engineer v. Borse Brothers Engineers and Contractors Private Limited (2021), which had allowed for the condonation of delays in appeals filed under the Arbitration Act and Commercial Courts Act under specific circumstances.

Precedents Influencing the Court's Decision: The court, in making its decision, also drew attention to the legal precedents that have shaped the interpretation of delay condonation in India. Specifically, they cited the case of Esha Bhattacharjee v. Managing Committee of Raghunathpur Nafar Academy (2013), where the Apex Court stressed the importance of crafting condonation of delay applications with meticulous care. It was emphasized that condoning delay should not be a mere formality but should hinge on the fundamental principle that the comprehensive adjudication of a case on its merits stands as a pivotal component of the justice delivery system.

Reviewing the Impact of Delay on the Opposing Party: The court's decision was grounded in a thorough examination of the documents presented by the appellant to substantiate their plea for the condonation of the delay. The court's scrutiny led to the crucial observation that the opposing party had not incurred any losses or suffered any adverse consequences due to the appellant's inactivity or the delay in filing the appeal. This assessment was vital in establishing the rationale for the court's decision.

Background of the Commercial Suit and Timelines: To provide context for the case, it's important to note that a commercial suit before the Commercial Judge's Court in Kollam had awarded the plaintiffs the right to recover Rs. 19,75,448 from the defendant. This amount was accompanied by an annual interest rate of 6%, calculated from the date of the suit until the full amount was realized. Notably, the appellant had requested a certified copy of the judgment on March 4, 2023, and stamp papers were requisitioned on May 20, 2023. Consequently, the appeal should have been filed by July 20, 2023.

Appellant's Explanation for the Delay: The appellant offered a detailed account of the circumstances contributing to the 25-day delay. They contended that the delay was primarily due to financial constraints and the need to gather a substantial sum for the court fees. The appellant further explained that they had faced various personal hardships, including their own medical procedure, their father's extended illness and hospitalization, and their infant child's recurrent hospitalization due to respiratory issues. These personal issues, coupled with financial constraints during this period, had hindered the appellant's ability to promptly coordinate with their legal counsel to finalize the appeal, which included covering litigation expenses and court fees.

Respondents' Argument and the Applicability of the Commercial Courts Act: The respondents' counsel presented an argument based on the premise that the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, was enacted specifically to expedite the resolution of commercial disputes. They contended that the Limitation Act would not be applicable in commercial courts. Additionally, the respondents' counsel argued that the appellant had not sufficiently explained the reason for the delay, asserting that the appellant's inability to pay the court fee should not be considered a valid justification. The counsel further emphasized that delayed appeals could only be condoned when sufficient reasons for the delay were presented to the court.

Court's Evaluation of Appellant's Grounds for Delay: In assessing the appellant's grounds for the delay, the court conducted a comprehensive review and considered the submitted affidavits. The court acknowledged that the initial reason provided in the first affidavit was unsatisfactory. However, the additional affidavit, along with Annexure A1, which included a discharge summary of the appellant's nine-month-old baby during the relevant period, was deemed a reasonable justification for the delay. Notably, this document was not subject to significant dispute by the respondents. The court also took into account the practical aspect, recognizing that in normal circumstances, an individual would not falsely claim their nine-month-old baby's severe illness merely to extend the limitation period.

Imposition of Costs and Final Directive: Despite its decision to condone the delay, the court was keen to underline that, given the commercial nature of the case, the delay could only be condoned upon the imposition of a financial penalty. Accordingly, the court ordered the appellant to pay a sum of Rs. 10,000 to the respondents by or before October 30, 2023, and to file a memo with the court to confirm the payment. This final directive serves as a reminder that even in cases of delay condonation, there may be financial consequences.

The Outcome of the Application: In the end, the court granted the appellant's application for the condonation of the delay, thereby allowing the appeal to proceed. This marks a significant legal development in the case titled "Muhammed Shafeek v. M/S Tasty Nut Industries & Ors." under the case number CM.APPL.NO.1/2023 IN COML.A NO. 3 OF 2023.