NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
(From the order dated 2.12.02 in First Appeal No.2219/02
State Commission Haryana)
Ashok Kumar Petitioner
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER.
MR. B.K. TAIMNI, MEMBER,
HONBLE MR. JUSTICE K.S. GUPTA, MEMBER.
Limitation condonation of delay it is not the section 5 of Limitation Act but Section 24A of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 which is applicable State Commission condoning the delay on mere statement for reasons stated in the application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act delay is condoned non-application of mind resulting in miscarriage of justice - it is not the law that irrespective of any sufficient cause delay is to be condoned when particularly valuable right has accrued to the consumer who is pitted against the might of the State Authority.
For the petitioner : Mr. G.L. Malik, Advocate
For the respondent : Mr. Bharat Singh Advocate
for Mr. N.K. Jain, Advocate.
O R D E R
DATED THE 25th April, 2003.
JUSTICE D.P. WADHWA, J.(PRESIDENT)
It is the complainant who is the petitioner before us. He is aggrieved by the order of the State Commission condoning delay of 357 days in filing the appeal against the order of the District Forum by the respondent-opposite party. No reasons have been given in the order of the State Commission as to why the delay was being condoned except to say that it was condoned for reasons stated in the application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. If we now refer to the application seeking condonation of delay it merely states that the appeal cannot be filed unless there is approval of the legal remembrancer of the opposite party at panchkula. Admittedly, the order of the District Forum is dated 11.7.2001 and the appeal was filed after delay of 357 days. It is stated that the copy of the order was received on 3.8.2002. Thereafter, steps were taken to file the appeal. The application does not show as to how it is said that the order dated 11.7.2001 was received only on 3.8.2002. Yet it is stated in the application that there is a delay of 105 days in filing the appeal. There is hardly any cause much less sufficient cause mentioned in the application to condone the delay. Yet the State Commission without examining the application in its proper perspective condoned the delay. Reference was made by the learned counsel for the respondent to a few decisions of the Supreme Court to contend that Courts should be liberal to condone the delay. These judgments are reported as (1998) 7 SCC 123 [N. Balakrishnan vs. M. Krishnamurthy], (1996) 3 SCC 132 [State of Haryana vs. Chandra Mani & Ors.] and (1996) 10 SCC 634 [Special Tehsildar, Land Acquisition, Kerala vs. K.V. Ayisumma] . We do not think Supreme Court has laid the law that irrespective of any sufficient cause delay be condoned particularly when valuable right has accrued to the consumer who is pitted against the might of the State Authority. Common thread that runs through these judgments is that grounds of condonation should be acceptable. When there are no grounds to condone the delay discretion in favour of the applicant cannot be exercised. Once sufficient cause to condone the delay is made out number of days of delay is not quite material. We are of the view that exercise of jurisdiction by the State Commission was not correct and it has led to miscarriage of justice.
Moreover, the complaint pertained to excessive bill for electricity. It is not that it was the complainant who consumed electricity for which such a bill was given to him. It so happened that the son of the complainant purchased property from one Bodan Raj who had electric connection and where there were arrears of electricity. Complainant had nothing to do with that property and he had a separate meter at a separate premises. Strangely the arrears respecting to the bill of Bodan Raj were added to the bill of the complainant. When the complainant lodged his protest first time the amount of the bill of the meter of Bodan Raj was deleted. Yet again a bill for the further period was given and again the arrears pertaining to the electric meter of Bodan Raj added to the meter of the complainant. Meters are different so are the premises. Complainant has nothing to do with the purchase of the property of Bodan Raj by his son. There is nothing on the record as to how the respondent HVPNL (Haryana Vidyudt) Pradhikaran Ltd.) adopted such a posture.
Accordingly this revision petition is allowed. The order of the State Commission is set aside and the appeal of the HVPNL before the State Commission is dismissed as barred by limitation.