Supreme Court of India
The State Of Madhya Pradesh vs Bherulal on 15 October, 2020Author: Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari







BHERULAL Respondent(s)




1. The Special Leave Petition has been filed with a

delay of 663 days! The explanation given in the

application for condonation of delay is set out in

paragraphs 3 and 4.

2. We are constrained to pen down a detailed order as

it appears that all our counseling to Government and
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Date: 2020.10.16 Government authorities have fallen on deaf ears i.e., the
20:45:32 IST

Supreme Court of India cannot be a place for the

Governments to walk in when they choose ignoring the

period of limitation prescribed. We have raised the issue

that if the Government machinery is so inefficient and

incapable of filing appeals/petitions in time, the

solution may lie in requesting the Legislature to expand

the time period for filing limitation for Government

authorities because of their gross incompetence. That is

not so. Till the Statute subsists, the appeals/petitions

have to be filed as per the Statues prescribed.

3. No doubt, some leeway is given for the Government

inefficiencies but the sad part is that the authorities

keep on relying on judicial pronouncements for a period of

time when technology had not advanced and a greater leeway

was given to the Government (Collector, Land Acquisition,

Anantnag & Anr vs. Mst. Katiji & Ors. (1987) 2 SCC 107).

This position is more than elucidated by the judgment of

this Court in Office of the Chief Post Master General &

Ors. v. Living Media India Ltd. & Anr. (2012) 3 SCC 563

where the Court observed as under:

“12) It is not in dispute that the person(s)
concerned were well aware or conversant with
the issues involved including the prescribed
period of limitation for taking up the matter
by way of filing a special leave petition in

this Court. They cannot claim that they have a
separate period of limitation when the
Department was possessed with competent persons
familiar with court proceedings. In the absence
of plausible and acceptable explanation, we are
posing a question why the delay is to be
condoned mechanically merely because the
Government or a wing of the Government is a
party before us.

Though we are conscious of the fact that in a
matter of condonation of delay when there was no
gross negligence or deliberate inaction or lack
of bonafide, a liberal concession has to be
adopted to advance substantial justice, we are
of the view that in the facts and circumstances,
the Department cannot take advantage of various
earlier decisions. The claim on account of
impersonal machinery and inherited bureaucratic
methodology of making several notes cannot be
accepted in view of the modern technologies
being used and available. The law of limitation
undoubtedly binds everybody including the

13) In our view, it is the right time to inform
all the government bodies, their agencies and
instrumentalities that unless they have
reasonable and acceptable explanation for the
delay and there was bonafide effort, there is no
need to accept the usual explanation that the
file was kept pending for several months/years

due to considerable degree of procedural red-
tape in the process. The government departments
are under a special obligation to ensure that
they perform their duties with diligence and
commitment. Condonation of delay is an exception
and should not be used as an anticipated benefit
for government departments. The law shelters
everyone under the same light and should not be
swirled for the benefit of a few. Considering
the fact that there was no proper explanation
offered by the Department for the delay except
mentioning of various dates, according to us,
the Department has miserably failed to give any
acceptable and cogent reasons sufficient to
condone such a huge delay.”

Eight years hence the judgment is still

4. A reading of the aforesaid application shows that

the reason for such an inordinate delay is stated to be

only “due to unavailability of the documents and the

process of arranging the documents”. In paragraph 4 a

reference has been made to “bureaucratic process works, it

is inadvertent that delay occurs”.

5. A preposterous proposition is sought to be

propounded that if there is some merit in the case, the

period of delay is to be given a go-by. If a case is

good on merits, it will succeed in any case. It is really

a bar of limitation which can even shut out good cases.

This does not, of course, take away the jurisdiction of

the Court in an appropriate case to condone the delay.

6. We are also of the view that the aforesaid approach

is being adopted in what we have categorized earlier as

“certificate cases”. The object appears to be to obtain a

certificate of dismissal from the Supreme Court to put a

quietus to the issue and thus, say that nothing could be

done because the highest Court has dismissed the appeal.

It is to complete this formality and save the skin of

officers who may be at default that such a process is

followed. We have on earlier occasions also strongly

deprecated such a practice and process. There seems to be

no improvement. The purpose of coming to this Court is

not to obtain such certificates and if the Government

suffers losses, it is time when the concerned officer

responsible for the same bears the consequences. The irony

is that in none of the cases any action is taken against

the officers, who sit on the files and do nothing. It is

presumed that this Court will condone the delay and even

in making submissions, straight away counsels appear to

address on merits without referring even to the aspect of

limitation as happened in this case till we pointed out to

the counsel that he must first address us on the question

of limitation.

7. We are thus, constrained to send a signal and we

propose to do in all matters today, where there are such

inordinate delays that the Government or State

authorities coming before us must pay for wastage of

judicial time which has its own value. Such costs can be

recovered from the officers responsible.

8. Looking to the period of delay and the casual

manner in which the application has been worded, we

consider appropriate to impose costs on the petitioner-

State of Rs.25,000/- (Rupees twenty five thousand) to be

deposited with the Mediation and Conciliation Project

Committee. The amount be deposited in four weeks. The

amount be recovered from the officers responsible for the

delay in filing the special leave petition and a

certificate of recovery of the said amount be also filed

in this Court within the said period of time.

9. The special leave petition is dismissed as time

barred in terms aforesaid.

10. We make it clear that if the aforesaid order is not

complied within time, we will be constrained to initiate

contempt proceedings against the Chief Secretary.

11. A copy of the order be placed before the Chief

Secretary, State of Madhya Pradesh.



New Delhi;
October 15, 2020.


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