Section 148 of the Civil Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to
as CPC) gives power to the Court for the enlargement of time fixed
by it with regard to the doing of an act prescribed or allowed by
the CPC. Following the Amendment of 1999, the time permitted to be
enlarged was limited to thirty days. In Evoke Building Concepts
Pvt Ltd v. Hindware Home Retail Pvt Ltd the Delhi High Court
laid down that in case of amendment of Counter-claim, if the same
was an integral part of the defence, a rigid interpretation of the
Section was not to be taken and the Court could extend the time
beyond thirty days.
The Defendant, Hindware Home Retail Pvt Ltd, had sought to amend
its Counter-claim based on an alleged trademark registration, in
the case filed against it by Evoke Building Concepts Pvt Ltd
(Plaintiff). The same was granted by an Order of the Court.
However, it had failed to place on record the amended Counter-claim
and Written Statement even after the expiry of time, neither did it
seek extension of time within the prescribed period. The Plaintiffs
therefore sought for the striking-off of all the Defendant's
pleadings as per Order VI Rule 18 of the CPC.
The main contention of the Plaintiff in this case was that the
Court did not possess any powers to extend the period beyond thirty
days under Section 148 CPC. In order to substantiate the same it
relied on the judgment of the Delhi High Court in Glaxo
Smithkline Consumer Healthcare v. Anchor Health & Beauty Care
[CS (OS) 1908/2002 dated 13.07.2009] and that of the
Supreme Court in Union of India v. Pramod Gupta (D) by
LRs & Ors [AIR 2005 SC 3708].
The Plaintiff maintained that the Defendant was in the wrong
since it had not even moved an application setting forth any
reasons why the delay had to be condoned and hence prayed for the
exclusion of the amendments in the records.
The Defendant reverted that though there was no separate
application seeking to condone the delay, the reasons for
non-filing of the amended Counter-claim within the prescribed time
had been spelt out in the reply to the application. Furthermore,
the averments made in the reply were also brought to the attention
of the Court, wherein it had claimed that the delay in filing the
amended Counter-claim had been due to pure inadvertence and was
unintentional. It was claimed that the provisions enumerated in
Order VI Rule 18 CPC were not mandatory and the delay could be
condoned as per Section 148 CPC. The Defendant insisted that there
was a need for the same by submitting that the Counter-claim was
necessary to bring out the real questions before the parties. In
addition it was argued that by virtue of Section 151 CPC, the Court
could exercise its inherent powers to extend the time granted by it
for the performance of any function, by either of the parties.
The decision of the Supreme Court in Salem Advocate
Bar Association, Tamil Nadu v. Union of India [AIR 2005 SC
3353] was relied on where the question was whether,
following the Amendment of the CPC in 1999, the Court had inherent
powers to extend the time beyond thirty days. The Apex Court had
noted that the Section had to be allowed to operate entirely, since
its rigid operation would lead to absurdity. In instances where the
act could not be completed within the given time due to factors
beyond the control of the party, the Court would be well within its
power to permit such an extension. The Court also provided a word
of caution that the same was applicable to those circumstances only
where the time was granted by the Court for the performance of an
act and not where the time was stipulated by the Limitation
The Defendants further alleged that the decisions relied on by
the Plaintiffs to put their point across were inappropriate in the
present matter. It was alleged that the Glaxo
Smithkline case was inapplicable since the
explanation for the delay had been rejected in that Order. The
Pramod Gupta case was claimed to be
inapplicable on the basis that the Court had no occasion to deal
with Section 148 in that particular case.
After careful consideration of the submissions presented by both
the parties, the Delhi High Court noted that the two applicable
precedents viz., the Pramod Gupta case
and the Salem Advocate Bar Association
case had been delivered in close proximity by the
Supreme Court. The Court highlighted the significance of the
Counter-claim in the present case by stating that the same was
premised upon an important aspect, which was an integral part of
the defence in the case. By relying on the decision in the
Salem Advocate Bar Association case, the
Court found it fit to exercise its powers laid down in Section 148
and accordingly permitted the amended Counter-claim to be taken on
record, subject to the payment of costs by the Defendant.
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