The Supreme Court of India in the case of Estate Officer, Haryana Urban Development Authority & Anr. vs Gopi Chand Atreja, passed a judgement dated 12.03.2019 holding that delay by a Lawyer cannot be a ground for delay in filing an appeal.
In the above case the Respondent filed a civil suit in the Civil Court, Karnal against the Appellant for a mandatory injunction in relation to the suit land. The suit was decreed by the Trail Court vide Judgement dated 01.05.2001.
The Appellants aggrieved with the Judgement of Trial Court filed a first appeal in the Court of Additional District Judge, Karnal. The District Court of Karnal by the Judgement dated 07.02.2002, dismissed the first appeal and affirmed the Judgement of the Trail Court.
The Appellants then filed a second appeal in the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh after 1942 days (4 years 6 months) along with an Application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 praying to condone the delay in filing the second appeal. The High Court on 20.01.2008 rejected the application and declined to condone the delay. The Court further added that the second appeal is dismissed as it is barred by limitation. The Appellant further filed a review petition which the High Court again dismissed. The Appellant then filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court of India.
The Supreme Court of India held that if the Appellant’s lawyer did not take timely steps which resulted in delay, it was the duty of the Appellant to have reminded the lawyer and if even then the lawyer was not taking interest the Appellant should have engaged some other lawyer.
The Apex Court held that the High Court was correct in not condoning the second appeal for the following reasons, firstly, the delay was disproportionate, secondly, there was no proper explanation for the delay and thirdly, the ground alleged in support of the Application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 does not establish an adequate cause for delay as allowed by the Law.
The Indian Lawyer