Delay in representing the review application = “A code of procedure must be regarded as such. It is procedure something designed to facilitate justice and further its ends: not a penal enactment for punishment and penalties; not a thing designed to trip people up. Too technical a construction of sections that leaves no room for reasonable elasticity of interpretation should therefore be guarded against (provided always that justice is done to both sides) lest the very means designed for the furtherance of justice be used to frustrate it. Our laws of procedure are grounded on a principle of natural justice which requires that men should not be condemned unheard, that decisions should not be reached behind their backs, that 6 proceedings that affect their lives and property should not continue in their absence and that they should not be precluded from participating in them. Of course, there must be exceptions and where they are clearly defined they must be given effect to. But taken by and large, and subject to that proviso, our laws of procedure should be construed, wherever that is reasonably possible, in the light of that principle.” – In our opinion, keeping in view the aforementioned observations and further having regard to the nature of controversy involved in the case, the High Court should have been liberal in taking a view in the matter and accordingly should have condoned the delay and granted the appellants one more opportunity to cure the defects. The interest of justice demanded one more opportunity to the appellants to comply with the orders of the Registry. The delay in filing the application filed by the appellants before the High Court is hereby 7 condoned. The appellants are granted one month’s time as an outer limit to cure the defects pointed out by the Registry in their Review Application.

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL No. 2601 OF 2018

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.35629 of 2017)

Pralhad Shankarrao Tajale

& Ors. ….Appellant(s)

VERSUS

State of Maharashtra through

its Secretary (Revenue) & Anr. …Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.

1) Leave granted.

2) This appeal is directed against the final

judgment and order dated 18.07.2017 passed by

the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in Civil

Application No.120 of 2016 in Rejected Case No.149

of 2016 in Rejected Case No.148 of 2016 whereby

the Single Judge of the High Court dismissed the

appellants’ application on the ground of delay.

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3) In order to appreciate the short question

involved in the appeal, few facts need mention infra.

4) The appellants herein were the Writ/Review

Petitioners before the High Court in the proceedings

out of which this appeal arises. On 28.08.2012, the

appellants filed a petition being Writ Petition

No.8516 of 2012 before the High Court of Bombay

questioning therein the legality and correctness of

the order dated 14.05.2012 passed by the State

Minister for Revenue (MH). It was in relation to a

certain land dispute whereby the appellants’

revision application was dismissed.

5) On 27.11.2012, the Single Judge of the High

Court dismissed the appellants’ writ petition. The

appellants felt aggrieved and filed intra court appeal

(L.P.A.No.33 of 2013) before the Division Bench.

6) By order dated 22.03.2014, the Division Bench

permitted the appellants to withdraw the intra court

appeal and granted them liberty to file review

petition before the Single Judge against the order by

which their writ petition was dismissed.

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7) The appellants accordingly filed review

application (Review Application No.3330/2015 in

W.P.No.8516/2012) on 17.04.2014. The appellants

also filed application for condonation of delay in

filing the Review application.

8) According to the Registry of the High Court,

the Review Application had some defects in its filing.

The appellants were, therefore, directed to cure the

defects so that the Review Application could be

listed for orders before the appropriate Bench.

9) As the appellants did not cure the defects

pointed out by the Registry of the High Court, the

Review Application was listed before the Registrar

(Judicial-1) on 19.10.2015 for passing appropriate

orders in filing the Review Application.

10) The Registrar, by his order dated 19.10.2015

further granted four weeks’ time to the appellants to

cure the defects and at the same time directed that

failing to cure the defects will result in refusing the

registration of the Review Application, i.e., it will

result in rejection of the Review application.

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11) Felt aggrieved by the order dated 19.10.2015

passed by the Registrar, the appellants filed an

application being Civil Application No.120 of 2016

and prayed therein for setting aside of the order

dated 19.10.2015 passed by the Registrar and for

restoration of Review Application No. St. 3330 of

2015, which was dismissed due to non-compliance

of the Registrar’s mandatory order dated

19.10.2015.

12) By impugned order, the Single Judge

dismissed the appellants’ application essentially on

the ground of delay, which has given rise to filing of

the present appeal by way of special leave by the

Writ/Review petitioners in this Court.

13) On 05.03.2018, we requested Ms. Deepa M.

Kulkarni, learned counsel for the State of

Maharashtra, who was present in Court, to accept

notice on behalf of the Respondent-State to enable

us to dispose of the appeal finally on that day

having regard to the short issue involved in the

appeal. Learned counsel, on our request, accepted

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the notice on behalf of the respondent-State.

14) Having heard the learned counsel for the

parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we

are inclined to allow the appeal and while setting

aside of the impugned order, we restore the review

Application No. (St. 3330/2015) for its hearing by

the appropriate Bench in accordance with law.

15) Paras 8, 12 and 13 of the impugned order,

which deal with the issue, read as under:

“8. In Review Petition, office raised

objections on 14th July, 2015. On 1st June,

2015 as the Applicants failed to remove all

office objections, Section Officer made noting

that all office objections are not removed on

14th July, 2015. Thereafter the matter

appeared before the learned Registrar

(Judicial-I) on 15th July, 2015, 19th August,

2015, 21st September, 2015 and 19th

October, 2015. No one appeared on behalf of

Applicants before the Registrar (Judicial-I) for

removal of office objections. Hence, the

Registrar (Judicial-I) passed conditional order

on 19th October, 2015 granting four weeks

time to remove all office objections, failing

which, matter will stand rejected.

12. As the Applicants failed to disclose the

sufficient cause for delay, I am of the opinion

that Applicants have not made out any case

for allowing the Civil Application.

13. Hence, Civil Application stand rejected.”

16) This case reminds us of the apt observations

5

made by the learned Judge of this Court, Vivian

Bose J., in Sangram Singh vs. Election Tribunal

Kotah & Anr., AIR 1955 SC 425. His Lordship,

speaking for the Bench, in his distinctive style of

writing with subtle power of expression reminded

the Courts as to how the code of procedure should

be construed in the context of rights of the parties

to the lis, which affects their lives and properties.

His Lordship reminded that procedural laws should

not be construed like a penal provision to punish

the parities as far as possible. The following is the

classic passage, which is always followed for doing

substantial justice to the parties to the lis:

“A code of procedure must be regarded as

such. It is procedure something designed

to facilitate justice and further its ends:

not a penal enactment for punishment and

penalties; not a thing designed to trip

people up. Too technical a construction of

sections that leaves no room for

reasonable elasticity of interpretation

should therefore be guarded against

(provided always that justice is done to

both sides) lest the very means designed

for the furtherance of justice be used to

frustrate it. Our laws of procedure are

grounded on a principle of natural justice

which requires that men should not be

condemned unheard, that decisions should

not be reached behind their backs, that

6

proceedings that affect their lives and

property should not continue in their

absence and that they should not be

precluded from participating in them. Of

course, there must be exceptions and

where they are clearly defined they must

be given effect to. But taken by and large,

and subject to that proviso, our laws of

procedure should be construed, wherever

that is reasonably possible, in the light of

that principle.”

17) In our opinion, keeping in view the

aforementioned observations and further having

regard to the nature of controversy involved in the

case, the High Court should have been liberal in

taking a view in the matter and accordingly should

have condoned the delay and granted the appellants

one more opportunity to cure the defects. The

interest of justice demanded one more opportunity

to the appellants to comply with the orders of the

Registry.

18) As a consequence, the appeal succeeds and is,

accordingly, allowed. The impugned order is set

aside.

19) The delay in filing the application filed by the

appellants before the High Court is hereby

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condoned. The appellants are granted one month’s

time as an outer limit to cure the defects pointed

out by the Registry in their Review Application.

20) On curing the defects by the appellants, the

Review Application be placed before the appropriate

Bench for passing orders in accordance with law.

……………………………………..J.

[ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]

…………………………………….J.

[S. ABDUL NAZEER]

New Delhi;

March 08, 2018

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