SC condones 4 years delay after Chief Secretary of Bihar assures that action is being taken against the erring officers

Supreme Court: After rebuking the State of Bihar for the delay of over 4 years in filing the second appeal before the High Court of Patna in a matter and summoning the Chief Secretary of Bihar to offer and explanation, who in the affidavit mentioned that action has been initiated against the officials who are responsible for the delay, the bench of J. Chelameswas and S.A. Nazeer, JJ condoned the delay. Delay was also condoned for the delay of 393 days in filing the Special Leave to petition.

On 04.07.2017, the State had argued that it would be failing in it’s duty if it did not bring the judgement in State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Prasad Singh, (2000) 9 SCC 94, to Courts notice where it was held that liberal approach should be adopted by the Courts while dealing with the matter of delay as refusing to condone delay can result in a meritorious matter being thrown out at the very threshold and cause of justice being defeated.

Coming down heavily upon the State, the Court said that the delay in the aforementioned matter was of 679 days and not more than 4 years. The Court said that the whole process of law was reduced to a mockery and the State and its counsel had the audacity to state before the Court that they will be failing in their duty if they did not bring the abovementioned judgment to their notice.

State, in it’s explanation for the reason of delay, had said that the concerned officer had remained ill for some time and hence, could not take up the matter and was later on transferred. The new officer was able to file the appeal only after obtaining the certified copy of the judgment. Patna High Court, however, was not satisfied with the explanation and hence, refused to condone the delay. It said that the right acquired by a party after the expiry of limitation cannot be lightly fettered with unless there are strong reasons and sufficient explanation for the inordinate delay. [State of Bihar v. Suchit Halwai, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 899, order dated 09.08.2017]

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