Summary of Recent judgment

Case: M/S North Eastern Chemicals Industries (P) Ltd. & Anr. v. M/S Ashok Paper Mill (Assam) Ltd. & Anr

Date of Order / Judgment: 11th December, 2023

The Matter Heard by Bench: Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Sanjay Karol


M/S North Eastern Chemicals Industries (P) Ltd. (“Appellant”) supplied goods to M/S Ashok Paper Mill (Assam) Ltd. and another (“Respondents”), but the latter only made part payment. Subsequently, the Respondents were declared “a sick company” under the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1935. To rejuvenate the industry, the Government of Assam promulgated the Jogighopa (Assam) Unit of Ashok Paper Mills Limited (Acquisition Transfer of Undertaking) Act, 1990 (“Jogighopa Act”).
The Appellant filed its claim under Section 16 of Jogighopa Act for Rs. 1,58,375/- along with interest. The Commissioner of Payments awarded the principle sum but no interest to the Appellant. Aggrieved by this the Appellant approached High Court where the Court held that the interest would accrue from 23.09.1992, as the 'Interest on Delayed Payments to Small-Scale and Ancillary Industrial Undertaking Act 1993' was brought into force on such date. The Commissioner vide an order dated 13.04.2005 held that no further funds were payable to the Appellants.
The Respondents filed a Civil Review against the order dated 14.05.2009 before the High Court and the same was allowed. The High Court held that the Appeal was erroneously admitted by the District Judge and the same deserves to be dismissed for being barred by limitation. The Appellant aggrieved by the High Court's order moved to the Supreme Court.


Whether in the absence of prescribed period of limitation, can an appeal from an order of Commissioner of Payments be entertained irrespective of passage of time?


The Court observed that “A court should, in such a situation consider in the facts and circumstances of the case at hand, the conduct of the parties, the nature of the proceeding, the length of delay, the possibility of prejudice being caused, and the scheme of the statute in question. It may be underscored here that when a party to a dispute raises a plea of delay despite no specific period being prescribed in the statute, such a party also bears the burden of demonstrating how the delay in itself would cause the party additional prejudice or loss as opposed to, the claim subject matter of dispute, being raised at an earlier point in time.”


The Supreme Court allowing the appeal held that when no limitation period has been prescribed for filing an appeal, then such appeal must be filed within a reasonable time, which is to be determined as per facts and circumstances of each case.