A two-Judge Bench observed that the legislature has conferred power to condone delay by enacting Section 5 of the Indian Limitation Act of 1963 in order to enable the courts to do substantial justice to parties by disposing of matters on merits. The expression ‘sufficient cause’ employed by the legislature is adequately elastic to enable the courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which subserves the ends of justice, for that is the life-purpose for the existence of the institution of courts. The learned Judges emphasized on adoption of a liberal approach while dealing with the applications for condonation of delay as ordinarily a litigant does not stand to benefit by lodging an appeal late and refusal to condone delay can result in an meritorious matter being thrown out at the very threshold and the cause of justice being defeated. It was stressed that there should not be a pedantic approach but the doctrine that is to be kept in mind is that the matter has to be dealt with in a rational commonsense pragmatic manner and cause of substantial justice deserves to be preferred over the technical considerations. It was also ruled that there is no presumption that delay is occasioned deliberately or on account of culpable negligence and that the courts are not supposed to legalise injustice on technical grounds as it is the duty of the court to remove injustice. In the said case the Division Bench observed that the State which represents the collective cause of the community does not deserve a litigant-non-grata status and the courts are required to be informed with the spirit and philosophy of the provision in the course of interpretation of the expression ‘sufficient cause’.
Collector, Land Acquisition, Anantnag v. Mst. Katiji, [(1987) 2 SCC 107]