If the delay is not condonable statutorily, it cannot be condoned taking recourse to Article 142 of the Constitution

Supreme Court: In an appeal preferred under Section 125 of the Electricity Act, 2003, the 3-Judge Bench of Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ held that the Act is a special legislation within the meaning of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act and, therefore, the prescription with regard to the limitation has to be the binding effect and hence, the delay cannot be condoned taking recourse to Article 142 of the Constitution.

In the present case, it was argued by the respondents that the appeal was barred by 71 days and hence, the Court erred in condoning the delay of 71 days in view of the language employed in Section 125 of the Act. Accepting the contention of the respondents, the Court noticed that as per Section 125 of the Act, this Court, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal within the period of 60 days from the date of communication of the decision or order of the appellate tribunal to him, may allow the same to be filed within a further period not exceeding 60 days. Hence, this Court has the jurisdiction to condone the delay but a limit has been fixed by the legislature, that is, 60 days. The Bench held that when the statute commands that this Court may condone the further delay not beyond 60 days, it would come within the ambit and sweep of the provisions and policy of legislation. It is equivalent to Section 3 of the Limitation Act.

The appeal was listed before the Bench on 29.1.2010 on which date this Court condoned the delay and admitted the appeal. In light of the said facts it was contended that when the delay in review was condoned by this Court, the parties should not be permitted to raise a preliminary objection. The Court, however, rejected the said contention and said that if the delay is statutorily not condonable, the delay cannot be condoned. There is no impediment to consider the preliminary objection at a later stage. [ONGC v. Gujarat Energy Transmission Corporation Ltd, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 223, decided on 01.03.2017]

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