Civil Appeal No.2075 of 2010. Case: Oriental Aroma Chemical Industries Ltd. Vs Gujarat Ind. Development Corp. & Ors.. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberCivil Appeal No.2075 of 2010
CounselFor Appellant: L.N. Rao, Sr. Adv., Nikhil Goel, Naveen Goel, Marsoak Bafaki and Sheela Goel, Advs and For Respondents: Anip Sachthey, Mohit Paul, Shagun Matta and Sherin Daniel, Advs.
JudgesG.S. Singhvi,A. K. Ganguly, JJ.
IssueLimitation Act - Section 5; Civil Procedure Code - Orders 41, 8, Rules 3A, 11
Citation2010 (3) AWC 2609 (SC) , (2010) 5 SCC 459 , 2010 (3) UJ 1276 (SC)
Judgement DateFebruary 26, 2010
CourtSupreme Court (India)


G.S. Singhvi, J.

  1. Leave granted.

  2. Whether the Division Bench of Gujarat High Court was justified in condoning more than four years' delay in filing of appeal by the respondents against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004 passed by Civil Judge (Sr. Division) Gandhinagar (hereinafter referred to as "the trial Court") in Special Civil Suit No.32 of 2001 is the question which arises for consideration in this appeal.

  3. The appellant was allotted a piece of land for setting up an industrial unit at Ankleshwar subject to the terms and conditions embodied in agreement of licence dated 2.4.1976 which, among other things, provided for consumption of specified quantity of water by the appellant. The agreement also provided for payment of 70% of the cost of agreed quantity of water irrespective of consumption. In 1982, respondent No.1 demanded non utilization charges amounting to Rs.4068/-, which were deposited by the appellant. After some time, respondent No.1 demanded Rs.2,69,895/- towards water charges. For next 10 years, the parties entered into long correspondence on the issue of levy of water charges, etc. Finally, respondent No.1 issued bill dated 13.1.1996 requiring the appellant to pay Rs.22,96,207/- towards water charges. The appellant challenged the same in Special Civil Suit No.32 of 2001. The summons issued by the trial Court were duly served upon the respondents but no written statement was filed on their behalf to controvert the averments contained in the plaint and none appeared on the dates of hearing despite the fact that the case was adjourned on more than one occasion. The suit was finally decreed on 30.10.2004 and it was declared that the appellant is not liable to pay Rs.22,96,207/- by way of minimum charges for water for the period between 1978 and 16.4.2001 and, thereafter, till the water was supplied by respondent No.1. After few months, the appellant filed another suit which was registered as Civil Suit No.222 of 2005 and prayed that respondent No.1 be directed to issue no objection certificate in its favour. The summons of the second suit were also served upon the respondents, but neither the written statement was filed nor any one appeared on their behalf. The second suit was also decreed on 12.12.2007 and respondent No.1 was directed to issue no objection certificate to the appellant. In compliance of the decree passed in the second suit, the concerned authority of the Corporation issued no dues certificate dated 9.7.2008.

  4. After four months and fifteen days of taking action in furtherance of the decree passed in the second suit, the respondents filed an appeal against judgment and decree dated 30.10.2004 passed in Special Civil Suit No.32 of 2001. They also filed an application under Order 41 Rule 3A of the Code of Civil Procedure read with Section 5 of the Limitation Act for condonation of delay by making the following assertions:

    "1. That this appeal is preferred against the judgment and decree of the learned Civil Judge (SD), Gandhinagar passed on 30.10.2004. That the suit was filed for permanent injunction and declaration and on the ground that the advocate of the GIDC has appeared but no written statement was filed and, therefore, the learned Judge resorted to Order 8 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code and granted the declaration as prayed for in the plaint. That after the decree being passed, the present plaintiff filed another suit being Civil Suit No.222 of 2005 and in which the decree was passed on 12.12.2007. That particular decree is to be challenged before this Honourable Court and, therefore, in 2008, after the second decree was passed, it was brought to the notice of the Legal Department as well as to the Executive Engineer at GIDC, Ankleshwar as to how this has happened and it seems that because of numerous transfers as well as it is also possible that the party might have arranged or joined hands with some employee of the Corporation and thereby after engaging advocate, no body has gone to the advocate for the purpose of giving instruction or filing the written statement and as a result thereof, decree is passed and only in the month of January/February, the law department came to know and therefore, an inquiry was made into the matter but the GIDC could not trace out as to at whose hands the mistake or mischief was done, however, when after inquiry everything was noticed and, therefore, the application for certified copy was made on 17.11.2008 and on 18.11.2008, the copy was ready and the same was sent to the advocate and thereafter the present appeal is preferred.

  5. That a long span from 30.10.2004 to 18.11.2008, practically four years time is passed and this has happened only because of some mistake or mischief on the...

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