The case mentioned below pertains to the condonation of delay of the Limitation Act, with the court emphasizing the pursuit of substantial justice.

The case mentioned below pertains to the condonation of delay of the Limitation Act, with the court emphasizing the pursuit of substantial justice.

Case Title: State of Nagaland v. Lipok AO & Ors.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Citation: (2005) 3 SCC 752

Petitioner: State of Nagaland

Respondent: Lipok AO & Ors.

Bench: Justice Arjit Pasayat, Justice S.H. Kapadia

Date of Judgment: 01/04/2005


The case at hand pertains to the allowance of delay according to Section 5 of the Limitations Act of 1963, which at first indicates that an application or appeal could be recognized even when the prescribed period of limitation has passed if the party establishing the request or the party appealing can convince the court of appeal that they had a sufficient reason for delaying their request or filing it within the allotted time.

The High Court Gauhati, Bench Kohima, denied Nagaland’s appeal, which set off the legal action. The application attempted to amend Section 378(3) of the CrPC 1973, for the extension of the deadline for filing a lawsuit under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963. The request for permission was not filed within the allotted time limit, and this was the basis for the High Court’s denial. The Hon’ble Court deemed the government’s 57-day explanation for the delay which it claimed was caused by missing official records unacceptable.


  1. The Nagaland State as petitioner appealed the decision made by the single judge who headed the Kohima Bench in HC Gauhati, to the Supreme Court, raising doubts about its accuracy.
  2. An application for an extension of the time limit for a legal action was submitted under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963, but the High Court declined to allow it.
  3. The purpose of the application was to request authorization u/s 378(3) CrPC, 1973.
  4. The fact that the request for permission was submitted after the statute of limitations was the basis for the judge’s ruling.
  5. The application for approval was delayed, and the decision was made on December 18, 2002.
  6. The government explained, stating that there was a 57-day absence of official records being the reason for the delay.
  7. The HC, subsequently, rejected the demand for an extension of the deadline and rejected this defence.
  8. The court contended that the burden of submitting the appeal earlier than the initial deadline passed rested with the party engaged in the action.
  9. Thus, the motion for permission was turned down, as was the plea to prolong the deadline.

Issues Involved

  • Whether the decision of the High Court to dismiss the request and not excuse the postponement was the right one?
  • What is included in the definition of “sufficient cause” as stated in Section 5 of the Limitations Act?

Laws Applied

Section 5 of the limitation act is considered mainly in this present case by the court which means that if the party appealing or the petitioner can convince the court that they had good reason for not filing the application or filing an appeal inside of the allotted time, the court may accept any appeal or application—aside from one made by Order XXI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 as after the deadline.

Other Statutes taken into consideration are Section 378 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Sections 34,302,307, 326 of IPC, 1860 and from the Constitution of India, 1950.



The petitioner’s advocate argued that:

  • After two months without being found in the police department, the missing file unexpectedly turned up in the Director General of Police’s department of Nagaland. Instructions were then given for reassembling the document.
  • Despite the directive, the Additional DG of Police refrained from submitting an appeal.


The advocate of the respondent on the other hand presented that:

  • It was insufficient for the appellant to only request that the Additional Attorney General file an appeal.
  • The department ought to have looked into the situation on its own and found out if an appeal had been submitted or not.


The definition of “sufficient cause” varies from case to case. Only the circumstances and the facts will be able to definitively state the extent to which the postponement was justified. The Court held that the State and the person are not on equal footing. When it comes to choosing a course of action, a person tends to act quicker than the state, which functions as an impersonal mechanism through its officials. In this instance, the Court overturned the High Court’s decision after considering the actual context and concluding that the authority in question should be excused for its delay.

The Hon’ble Court in the matter of State of Nagaland v. Lipok AO & Ors, (2005) 3 SCC 752, concluded that the discretion granted under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 was not to be clarified or interpreted in a way that would turn it from an issue of discretion to a strict legal rule. There should be a broad explanation and interpretation of the mentioned “Sufficient-Cause” term. If the petitioner pursued the appeal with adequate diligence serves as the real standard by which a court exercises its powers of discretion according to sec. 5 of Limitations Act, 1963. When one of the parties can demonstrate a genuine lack of activity or carelessness that would deny them Section 5 security, their petition cannot be denied, and the delay can’t be rejected to be excused.

As a result, the honourable Supreme Court overturned the High Court’s decision to not excuse the delay. The notice of appeal was granted permission to be filed and heard according to its grounds. The Supreme Court further asserted, citing many instances, that “hard and fast rules can’t lay down what is considered sufficient cause.” Strict standards of evidence can lead to public mischief and occasionally fail to safeguard the interests of public safety. The Court’s discretionary powers cannot be exercised unless adequate reason has been proven.

At last, the order of the High Court was set aside by the Supreme Court on the grounds mentioned above.

Laiba Tahreem

Laiba Tahreem

A final year humanities student of Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi

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