Delhi High Court’s Landmark Judgment on Time Limits for Filing Written Statements

In a landmark judgment by the Delhi High Court, a crucial decision was made regarding the time limits for filing written statements in civil cases. The case involved an appeal against a lower court’s ruling, where the Court emphasized the significance of respecting legal deadlines for timely resolution of disputes. This judgment is a significant milestone in ensuring the smooth administration of justice and adherence to procedural requirements.


  • In February 2017, the appellant was approached by the respondent to purchase the first floor of the ancestral property.
  • An agreement to sell was made on 17.03.2017 for a total consideration of Rs 7.5 lakhs, with Rs 1 lakh paid as earnest money.
  • The agreement was not honored, leading to a legal notice from the respondent on 13.04.2017.
  • The respondent later filed a civil suit seeking specific performance of the agreement and an injunction against alienation of the property.
  • The appellant failed to file a written statement despite multiple opportunities granted by the Court.
  • The Delhi High Court dismissed the appellant’s revision petition against the Civil Court’s order to strike off his defense.
  • The appellant was granted final opportunity by the Court subject to payment of Rs 3,000 costs
  • Despite multiple pass overs requested by the appellant, his Counsel did not appear before the Court
  • Appellant failed to file any written statement or deposit costs despite several opportunities given by the Court
  • Even beyond the maximum period of 90 days, appellant did not file any written statement or deposit costs
  • The Civil Court closed the appellant’s opportunity of filing written statement and struck off his defense
  • Appellant’s Counsel did not appear on the next hearing date or supply a copy of the written statement to the respondent
  • The High Court in revision noted that despite repeated opportunities, the written statement was not filed within 120 days of notice
  • Relying on the precedent set in Oku Tech Pvt Ltd v. Sangeet Agarwal and Others, the Delhi High Court summarily dismissed the petition

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  • The appellant argued that Order VIII Rule 1 of CPC is merely procedural and directory, as held in various decisions including Salem Advocate Bar Association, T.N. v. Union of India.
  • The appellant requested relaxation of the 90-day deadline for filing the written statement, citing personal appearances on all hearing dates and the Counsel’s lapse.
  • It was emphasized that the dispute was non-commercial and did not fall under the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.
  • The appellant claimed that the High Court overlooked the nature of the dispute and mistakenly applied a ratio intended for commercial disputes.
  • The appellant sought one final opportunity to file the written statement, invoking inherent discretion under Order VIII Rule 1 of CPC.
  • Severe prejudice was predicted if the delay was not condoned, leaving the appellant defenceless in the civil suit.
  • The respondent contended that multiple chances were already granted, including extensions beyond the statutory 90-day period for filing the written statement.
  • The appellant challenged the reliance on Oku Tech (supra) which was deemed applicable to commercial disputes only.
  • Arg Respondent 1 argued that…
  • Arg Respondent 2’s main point was…
  • Arg Respondent 3 raised the concern that…
  • Arg Respondent 4 provided evidence suggesting…
  • Arg Respondent 5 emphasized the need to…
  • Arg Respondent 6 proposed a solution to…
  • Arg Respondent 7’s position was supported by…

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  • Commercial disputes are governed by the CPC as amended by Section 16 of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.
  • Non-commercial disputes fall within the ambit of the unamended provisions of CPC.
  • The judgment in Oku Tech case is applicable only to commercial disputes, as clarified by SCG Contracts India Pvt. Ltd. v. KS Chamankar Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.
  • Regarding the timeline for filing a written statement in a non-commercial dispute, the discretion of Courts to condone delays is maintained under the unamended Order VIII Rule I, CPC.
  • The appellant’s case needs to be reviewed to determine if the discretionary jurisdiction should be exercised.
  • Appellant failed to comply with multiple deadlines set by the Court for filing written statement.
  • Repeated lapses without any valid justification or explanation.
  • Appellant claimed counsel not turning up as the only defense for delays.
  • Filed written statement after a delay of 95 days post-maximum extendable period.
  • Failed to provide a copy of the written statement even by the next hearing.
  • Importance of respecting deadlines under CPC for efficient dispute resolution highlighted.
  • Condonation of delays and casual attitudes towards legal processes impact administration of justice.
  • Courts should ensure strict adherence to timelines for timely resolution of disputes.
  • Appellant failed to provide cogent reasons for the delay in filing written statement
  • Appellant could not demonstrate due diligence on his part
  • High Court’s reliance on the Oku Tech case was deemed erroneous by the Court
  • Dismissal of the appeal was unavoidable due to the above reasons
  • Delays in the legal process affect docket management of Courts
  • Result in avoidable delays, cost escalations, and chaos
  • Impact litigants, commerce, and the public who are stuck in lengthy legal processes
  • Appellant had the opportunity to file the written statement but did not do so

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  • Appellant’s written statement filed on 02.11.2017 directed to be taken on record
  • Copy of the statement to be provided to counsel for the respondent
  • Payment of Rs. 25,000/- as costs to the respondent
  • Orders of the lower courts set aside
  • Appeal disposed off in the specified terms


Case Number: C.A. No.-000433-000433 / 2020

Click here to read/download original judgement

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