Supreme Court Recalls Suo Moto Extension of Limitation

With the outbreak of the pandemic, the Supreme Court took Suo Moto Cognizance of the situation prevalent during that time, owing to the difficulties of the litigants to file the petitions applications/suits/appeals or all other proceedings within the period of limitation. Such period of limitation has been prescribed under the Law of Limitation and directed extension of the period of limitation before all Courts and Tribunals which came into effect from 15th March 2020.

On 8th March 2021, owing to the normalcy being restored, Supreme Court passed further orders that the limitation period from 15th March 2020 to 14th March 2021 shall be excluded for computing the period of limitation, whereby the balance will be available post 15.03.2021. the period will also be excluded for computing period periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.

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With the second wave and heavy disruption of daily lives, Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association filed Miscellaneous Application No.665 of 2021 seeking restoration of the order dated 23.03.2020 to which Supreme Court passed an order dated 27.04.2021 restoring the previous order of 23rd March 2020. This order furthers extends the limitation period for all the proceedings. Moreover, the period from 14th March 2021 was also excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings.

With a near-normal situation, the Supreme Court restores the order dated 08th March 2021 stating that there is no requirement of continuation of the order dated 23.03.2020 for relaxing the order of limitation.

The order dated 23.03.2020 was passed in view of the extraordinary health crisis. On 08.03.2021, the order dated 23.03.2020 was brought to an end, permitting the relaxation of a period of limitation between 15.03.2020 and 14.03.2021. While doing so, it was made clear that the period of limitation would start from 15.03.2021. As the said order dated 08.03.2021 was only a one-time measure, in view of the pandemic, we are not inclined to modify the conditions contained in the order dated 08.03.2021.

The Supreme Court disposes of the M.A. No.665 of 2021 with the following directions:

  1. In computing, the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application, or proceeding, the period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall stand excluded. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as of 15.03.2021, if any, shall become available with effect from 03.10.2021.
  2. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 03.10.2021. In the event, the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 03.10.2021, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
  3. The period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.

Author: Saransh Chaturvedi a Legal Associate at  Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys in case of any queries please contact/write back us at saransh@iiprd.com.

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