The Rule that Limitation cannot be Condoned on the Basis of the Ground that ‘the Act of a Court shall not Prejudice a Litigant’ is not Absolute. The Court Has to Examine its Fault and Decide the Limitation Accordingly: SC
The question whether limitation can be condoned on the plea that the delay was caused by filling the case on a wrong forum or the court staff or the court itself admitted the case for hearing while having no jurisdiction in the matter. Whether the time spent during the litigation on a wrong forum can be excluded from the limitation. These questions were decided by the Supreme Court in case titled as Khushi Khushi Muhammad through L.Rs. and others v. Mst. Fazal Bibi and others (PLD 2016 SC 872), wherein the SC ruled that the rule that an act of a court shall prejudice no one does not apply to a case where the litigant has approached a wrong forum for redressal his grievance. Time spent during this period on the wrong forum cannot be condoned, even if the court has admitted the case for hearing.
But the in the recent judgment of the Supreme Court titled as Faqeer Muhammad VS. Khursheed Bibi etc ( CIVIL PETITIONS NO.1877-L, AND 1878-L OF 2016), the Court has revisited the said judgment and explained that it is not a plain rule that whenever a case is filed on a wrong forum the time spent during litigating on the wrong forum cannot be condoned. The Court asserted that Khushi Muhammad case does creates an exception or pre condition to apply the said rule. The pre condition is that “…The Court must see what fault, if any, has been committed by the court on account of which a litigant has been made to suffer; then the court must consider whether the benefit of the rule can or should be extended to a negligent litigant who has failed to make out a sufficient cause in terms of Section 5 of the Act as explained above (Emphasis supplied)….”
The SC held that the Khushi Muhammad case envisages a pre condition for courts to see whether what kind of fault has been done by the court on account of which the litigant has been made to suffer, and whether the litigant has established his bona finde , only then the court can decide the plea of condonation of limitation. The courts should not dismiss the plea of condonation of limitation outright on the ground that the delay was caused by the act of the court. Rather, the courts shall examine the case in the light of the rule that the act of a court shall prejudice no one and decide the question of limitation accordingly.
The gist of the case at hand is that when a case if filed on a wrong forum and the appellate court reaches a conclusion that the act of the court has prejudiced or caused the delay to the litigant, and the litigant is with clean hands, and he has also established his bona fide, only then the court shall condone the delay caused by the act of the court. Otherwise, the bar of limitation cannot be pierced by merely asserting that the case was filed on a wrong forum and it was admitted for hearing by the court, so the time spent on the wrong forum should be condoned.c.p._1877_l_2016