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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court held that a government department could not be treated differently from ordinary litigant in the matter of limitation as it is very clear in the law that delay in filing proceedings could not be condoned unless sufficient reasons of the delay are explained.

The court while dismissing a reference application of collector of customs being time barred held that the party seeking advantage of Section 5 of Limitation Act, 1908 must satisfy the court that it had not been negligent and had been pursuing the case with due diligence and care.

This reference application filed by the applicant department is vividly time barred and application for condonation of delay did not disclose any cogent, convincing and justified reasons for condonation of delay, the court observed.

Law on the subject is very clear that each and every day’s delay is to be satisfactorily explained and negligence does not constitute sufficient cause to condone delay, the court held.

Law of limitation reduced an effect of extinguishment of a right of party when significant lapses occurred and when no sufficient cause of such lapses, delay or time-barred action was shown by defaulting party, the opposite party was entitled to a right accrued by such lapses, the court added.

The court said law on the subject is very clear that presumption of correctness is attached to the judicial proceedings in terms of Article 129 (e) of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984, and in order to displace the same, some evidence is required to be produced by the applicant department along with application for condonation to make out a case for condonation of delay within the contemplation of provisions of Section 196(8) of the Act of 1969 read with Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1908.

The court observed that perusal of record reveals that appellate tribunal neither contended in the application for condonation of delay that the judgment was reserved or was kept in wait for orders or any effort was made to ascertain as to whether the judgment has been passed by appellate tribunal, nor register of appellate tribunal has been produced to show that the copy of impugned judgment was not dispatched to the applicant department.

Brief facts of the case are that respondent Company Messrs Assas Enterprises imported Automotive Safety Glasses from China and filed in-bond Goods Declaration declaring it at US$ 0.38/kg. The value declared by the respondent was enhanced by the department on the basis of valuation ruling No.175, issued under Section 25-A of the Customs Act, 1969 at the rate of 1.50/kg. These valuation rulings challenged before customs appellate tribunal and the same was allowed and the department challenged the decision through this reference application.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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