11 May 2021 | National Highways Authority of India v. Bhubaneswar Expressway Private Limited | FAO (OS) (COMM) 66/2020 | Rajiv Sahai Endlaw & Asha Menon JJ
The first question was: what was the length of the delay in filing the appeal? The respondent suggested it should be calculated from the day of the refiling because only a bunch of papers not “relatable” to the appeal was initially filed. The argument was rejected. The court found that though grounds had been added in the refiling, documents annexed, and there was a vast difference in the number of pages, a qualitative test--not quantitative—had to be applied. The original filing had a memorandum of appeal, affidavits, vakalatnama, court fees, a certified copy of the impugned order. What had been filed constituted a proper appeal. Filing copies of documents with the appeal was only a practice that evolved to decide appeals even on the first date. Moreover, in the times of the pandemic, so many other rules had been relaxed. The overall delay, calculated from the day of the filing, was 25 days.
The second question was: was there sufficient cause to condone the delay? Held, yes, the certified copy was immediately applied for and collected. Of course, the appeal was not filed immediately “as a natural person would have taken,” but it is unrealistic not to consider factors peculiar to the functioning of the Government (though the law of limitation is the same). (Citing Nagaland v. LipokAo, (2005) 3 SCC 752).
The third question was: was the Section 9-court right in granting a mandatory order directing NHAI to release to the respondent the claimed termination payment (INR 337,73,19,434.10) subject, however, to the award and furnishing a bank guarantee. The court ruled, no, and set aside the order:
Access the court's decision here.