NEW DELHI - Saying that delay cannot overrule a person’s right to litigate, the Delhi High Court Tuesday allowed a widow to file her plea for compensation though she had failed to do so within the stipulated time peiod since her husband’s death.
Justice V.B. Gupta, while allowing the plea of Gargia, said: Though there is delay of eight months and three days in filing the petition, the court cannot overlook the fact that appellants are illiterate persons and the only bread earner of their family had died."
"When the only bread earner of a family dies, the family would come under a state of shock and grief. There was no time for the family members to pursue the legal remedy, he added.
The judge made the remarks while hearing the plea of Gargia who had approached the court after the Northern Railway Tribunal in May 2008 dismissed the plea for compensation for the death of her husband in a railway accident in 2006.
After the tribunal dismissed her plea, she approached a lawyer who assured her that he will prepare all papers and her appeal would be ready soon. The lawyer, however, did not inform her about the progress of the case.
There is nothing on record to show that there was any other adult member in the family to properly guide the appellants with regard to their legal rights towards the claim," the court noted.
"Appellants being widow and children (including minor children) of the deceased, at best could have engaged an advocate and asked him to file the petition. If their advocate had duped them and did not file the claim petition within the prescribed period, then the appellants cannot be made to suffer for that, the court noted.
However, the railways contended that the story of the appellant being duped by her previous counsel cannot be accepted in absence of any proof of the same. If any such illegal practice ever happened, the appropriate forum for lodging a complaint against such a counsel would have been the Bar Council, and the plea should not be entertained.
The court, however, said: In the present case, there is a special circumstance to be taken into consideration, and that is that three of the appellants are minors. Since rights of minors are also involved in this case, I deem it necessary in the interest of justice to condone the delay in filing of the claim petition. Accordingly, the present appeal stands allowed."