Bombay HC Fines Former Property Owner ₹50,000 For 14-Year Delay In Appeal

Bombay HC Fines Former Property Owner ₹50,000 For 14-Year Delay In Appeal

The order was passed on January 12, however, the detailed judgment copy was made available on Tuesday. The court also dismissed her arguments that she was given “improper legal advice” earlier and hence it took her over 17 years to file an appeal after consulting a new lawyer.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2024, 03:05 AM IST
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Bombay HC | File

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on Maniben Chandrakant Dalal, former owner of Chandramany building in Matunga Central, for seeking condonation of delay of 5,193 days in filing an appeal observing that “as such no explanation much less a sufficient or a satisfactory explanation” has been offered for condoning an inordinate delay.

“This colossal delay in my view cannot be condoned. There is no case for bona fides made out,” Justice Abhay Ahuja noted. The order was passed on January 12, however, the detailed judgment copy was made available on Tuesday. The court also dismissed her arguments that she was given “improper legal advice” earlier and hence it took her over 17 years to file an appeal after consulting a new lawyer.

“In my view, the Applicant (Dalal) has been quite audacious lacking bona fides in taking a ground of consultation with a new Advocate in the year 2018 to file Review against a consent order of the year 2001 which in my view cannot be permitted,” the court noted.

The HC was hearing a review petition filed by Dalal challenging the 2001 order passed by the high court transferring suits filed by her and respondents – Kishore Chheda and Rita Kishore Chheda, with whom an agreement was signed in 1990 for sale of the building – to itself from the Small Causes Court.

According to Chhedas, they entered into an agreement of sale with Dalal in 1990 to purchase the Chandramany building, previously known as Vishwas Bhavan, and the plot of land on which it stood, for a consideration. Despite payment of the entire consideration, no conveyance came to be executed by Dalal, and kept giving false assurances, Chhedas’ plea contended. In 1994, Dalal applicant filed suit in Small Causes Court seeking eviction of respondents.

Chhedas also filed a suit in the high court seeking specific performance of the sale agreement. The HC restrained Dalal from creating third party rights. Chhedas filed an application for transferring all the cases to high court to avoid multiplicity of proceedings, which came to be allowed on December 11, 1995. Accordingly, an application was filed and following consent of all the parties, the high court passed an order on October 3, 2001, transferring the suits filed by Dalal before the small causes court to itself (HC).

Dalal filed a plea in the HC in 2018, through Advocate Kaustubh Thipsay, seeking to review 2001 order transferring cases on grounds of “improper legal advice”. Also, Dalal claimed that if the suits were transferred to the HC, she would lose the right to appeal. Counsels for Chhedas – Ram Apte, Shiraz Rustomji and Mohan Tekavde – opposed the plea citing inordinate delay. They also contended that the original order of 1995 was not challenged, based on which the 2001 order was passed.

Refusing to condone the delay, Justice Ahuja noted, “If a party has been thoroughly negligent in implementing its rights and remedies, it would be equally unfair to deprive the other party of a valuable right that has accrued to it in law as a result of his acting vigilantly… Laws come to the assistance of the vigilant and not to that of the sleepy.”

Dismissing the grounds of improper legal advice, the HC noted that considering the “journey of the litigation… it is unbelievable that the Applicant is a layman and was not aware of the nature of the proceedings and procedure for Appeal or was given incorrect/improper legal advice”.

“The conduct of the Applicant is not only unreasonable but also negligent and deliberate and contumacious in attempting to open up a closed matter. In my view, the explanation offered is not only concocted and the grounds urged unbelievable and rather fanciful for which this Court certainly cannot expose the other side to face unnecessary litigation,” the judge underlined.

Agreeing with Apte’s argument that exemplary costs be imposed for abusing the process of the court in derogation of healthy practice, the HC imposed cost of Rs 50,000 on Dalal which is to be paid in six weeks.

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