Non-diligent Party Not Entitled to Delay Condonation: NCDRC Rules

( NCDRC )The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, chaired by Mr. Subhash Chandra with Dr. Sadhna Shanker as a member, recently ruled on a case involving St. Stephen’s Hospital. They dismissed an appeal due to a delay in filing by the opposing party, emphasizing that condonation of delay is not an automatic entitlement; applicants must present valid reasons for any delays.


The complainant, who was registered with St. Stephen’s Hospital during her first pregnancy, received regular examinations throughout her term. All medical expenses were duly covered by the complainants, who diligently followed the hospital’s procedures. Despite undergoing necessary tests, including ultrasounds, which indicated normalcy, the delivery process allegedly encountered complications that were not communicated to the complainants or their family. Furthermore, they were unaware of their newborn’s transfer to the nursery due to oxygen deficiency. It wasn’t until three days post-delivery that they were informed of their child’s critical condition, having suffered a brain hemorrhage.

The complaint alleges that during delivery, the medical team failed to opt for a cesarean section despite signs of fetal distress, and inadequate monitoring led to further complications. The child was diagnosed with Perinatal Asphyxia, attributed either to the absence of a pediatrician or to negligence on their part. This condition resulted in brain damage, as confirmed by a CT scan, leading to spasticity.

Subsequently, the complainants sought redress for medical negligence at the State Commission, which, regrettably, dismissed their case. They then appealed to the National Commission, albeit with a significant delay of 213 days.


The hospital strongly refuted the allegations, characterizing the complaint as baseless and driven by ulterior motives, particularly to deflect attention from the mother’s purported abandonment of her newborn. According to their stance, while the fetus did experience minor distress during delivery, prompt resuscitation efforts were successful in reviving the child.

Additionally, the hospital asserted that a thorough medical assessment, conducted by a specialized board, found the newborn fit for discharge, which they argue absolves them of any negligence. This assertion underscores their position that they acted diligently and responsibly throughout the ordeal.


The commission carefully considered the reasons provided by the complainant for the delay in filing the appeal, noting their distress following the State Commission’s ruling and the ongoing medical needs of their child. However, the commission emphasized that adherence to the prescribed timelines is crucial, especially given the Consumer Protection Act’s stipulated 30-day period for appeals. While acknowledging the challenges the complainants faced, including the complexities of medical science and seeking expert opinions, the commission stressed the necessity of rational and reasonable explanations for each day of delay.

In referencing legal precedents such as the State Bank of India vs. B S Agriculture Industries (I) (2009) case, the commission underscored the imperative for complaints to be filed within the specified timeframe unless sufficient cause is demonstrated. Failure to do so, as highlighted by the Supreme Court, would render consideration of time-barred complaints illegal. The commission also cited the R.B. Ramlingam vs. R. B. Bhavaneshwari (2009) case, which emphasized the importance of assessing whether the petitioner had exercised due diligence in pursuing their appeal.

Moreover, drawing from the Anshul Aggarwal Vs. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (2011) case, the commission reiterated that the Consumer Protection Act’s limitation period aims to facilitate the prompt resolution of consumer disputes, underscoring that delayed petitions undermine this objective.

In this instance, despite the complainant’s explanation, the commission found the 213-day delay in filing the appeal against the State Commission’s order inadequately justified.

Posted and reproduced in Public Interest by

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