Ornate Traders vs. ITO (Bombay High Court)

Where the department sought condonation of delay of several months in filing appeals in several matters and explained the reasons for the delay in a casual and negligent manner and without giving even the basic details, HELD, castigating the department that:

(a) Section 5 of the Limitation Act cannot be construed so liberally that an accrued right in favour of the non-applicant would be taken away in most casual manner and without any justification or cause. Delay cannot be condoned in a mechanical manner.

(b) While some latitude is given to the Government, there is a limit to how long the Court can keep condoning the defaults of the Government. The cases of long delay ex facie reflects utter negligence, callous attitude and irresponsible attitude of shifting responsibilities of the officers.

(c) Given that the conduct of the authorities was detrimental to the public revenue, public policy and good governance, the Court has issued detailed guidelines with a view to ensure that the concept of public accountability and responsibility in the discharge of official functions is inculcated in the officers of the department.

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CCE vs. Punjab Fibres (Supreme Court)

In the context of s. 35 of the Excise Act, held (1) Where the statute confers on the authority concerned a limited power of condonation of delay or does not provide any such power, the authority has no power to condone delay beyond the prescribed period;

 (2) unless a new statute expressly or by necessary implication says so, it will not be presumed that it deprives a person of an accrued right. On the other hand, a law which is procedural in nature, and does not affect the rights, is retrospectively applicable;

(3) a new law of limitation providing for a shorter period cannot extinguish a vested right of action;

(4) An amendment to the period of limitation for commencing a legal proceeding will apply to existing rights subject to the exceptions that (i) if under the amending Act the remedy suddenly stands barred as a result of a shorter period of limitation, the same cannot be held to govern the case as otherwise the result will be to deprive the suitor of an accrued right and (ii) where the amendment leaves the claimant with such a short period for commencing the legal proceeding so as to make it unpractical for him to avail of the remedy.

Note: s. 35 is pari materia to s. 256 & 260A of the I. T. Act.

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January 2021