Section 5 of the Limitation Act deals with condonation of delay in case of appeal. Since the limitation period for appeals is very short, this section is then introduced to meet the end of justice such that the purpose of justice is not defeated merely because there is “sufficient cause” is present due to which an appeal was not preferred. This section extends the limitation period.
The word “sufficient cause” is an important phrase in this section. Since the section is not a matter of right for the party who pleads the condonation, but it depends on the discretion of the court. The court must be satisfied that the delay is caused due to a genuine reason. It is sufficiency of the cause which counts, and not length of delay – Expression “sufficient cause” should receive a liberal construction – As regards delay on the part of State, certain amount of latitude is not impermissible – Expression “sufficient cause” should be considered with pragmatism in justice oriented approach rather than technical detection of sufficient cause for explaining every day’s delay – Matter remitted to High Court to decide the criminal revision on merits – Suggestions made to prevent delay in State litigation – Administration of justice – [State (NCT Of Delhi) Vs Ahmed Jaan August 12, 2008]
Now the question arises what can be the “sufficient cause” which the court accepts-:
* Illness it is the sufficient cause when it is proved without the reasonable cause that the appellant was not able to file an appeal.
* Imprisonment-The imprisonment of the appellant can be a sufficient cause.
* Ignorance of law can also be a one of the reason but it should be bonafide.
* Mistake of fact-It should be real and unintentional.
* Delay in obtaining copies of judgement can be sufficient cause also this reason is also covered in section 12.
* Poverty, Infancy, Pardah
* Mistake of Counsel-mistake by counsel which is not negligence.
But to enjoy the benefit of section 5 There should be no negligence due to inaction of the party is a prerequisite, also length of delay is not a matter of concern but reasonable explanation why the delay has occurred is the subject matter of this section.
In the end the court prefer liberal approach in favour of justice and favour only reasonable excuses to condone any delay in filing an appeal .However the court must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the delay was genuine and it must be condoned in favour of justice. Also there should be absence of negligence in order to make the cause reasonable.