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Extension of Limitation Period- Supreme Court

January 13, 2022

By Nihit Nagpal and Manmeet Singh Marwah

There has been drastic surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country and globally due to spread of new Omicron variant of the Covid-19. The Hon’ble Supreme Court keeping in view the difficulties faced by litigants due to restrictions on movement and in an attempt to reduce the transmission of the deadly virus, again extended the limitation period under the general law of limitation or under any special laws (both Central and/or State) on the filing of all appeals, suits, petitions, applications and all other quasi proceedings vide its Order dated January 10, 2022 passed in the case titled In Re: Cognizance for Extension of Limitation[1]. Unlike, previous orders of extension of Limitation wherein only “prescribed limitation” had been extended this time the Hon’ble Court has even extended the outer limits (within which the Court or tribunal can condone delay).

Order dated January 10, 2022 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court

The present Miscellaneous Application No. 21 of 2022 has been filed by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association in Miscellaneous Application No. 665 of 2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No. 3 of 2020. The Hon’ble Supreme Court disposed of the said application keeping in view of the impact of the deadly virus on the general public and the hardships faced by the litigants with the following directions:

  1. The order dated March 23, 2020 is restored and in continuation of the subsequent orders dated March 08, 2021, April 27, 2021 and September 23, 2021. The period from March 15, 2020 till February 28, 2022 shall stand excluded for the purposes of limitation as may be prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasijudicial proceedings.
  2. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on October 03, 2021, if any, shall become available with effect from March 01, 2022.
  3. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between March 15, 2020 till February 28, 2022, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from March 01, 2022. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from March 01, 2022 is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
  4. The period from March 15, 2020 till February 28, 2022 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.

Conclusion

The present order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court aims to restore the previous orders passed in Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No. 3 of 2020 from time to time extending the limitation period due to widespread of Covid-19 leading to numerous deaths and adversities faced by the litigants due to lockdowns. The Hon’ble Supreme Court also vide its order dated January 04, 2022 in Centaur Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. Vs. Stanford Laboratories Pvt. Ltd.[2] upheld the order dated April 20, 2021 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Madras stating that even the period of limitation which could have been extended and/or condoned by the Tribunal/Court is excluded and/or extended while computing the period of limitation. The chronology of limitation extension in case titled as In Re: Cognizance for Extension of Limitation[3] is as follows:

S No. Order Date Extension of Limitation Period
1. March 23, 2020 Limitation extended from March 15, 2020 till further orders
2. March 08, 2021 Extension of limitation recalled and period from March 15, 2020 till March 14, 2021 excluded from computing the limitation period.
3. April 27, 2021 Extension of limitation restored and limitation extended from March 14, 2021 till further orders
4. September 23, 2021 Extension of limitation recalled and period from March 15, 2020 till October 02, 2021 excluded from computing the limitation period.
4  January 10, 2022 Extension of limitation restored and period from March 15, 2020 till February 28, 2022 excluded from computing the limitation period.

[1] Miscellaneous Application No. 21 of 2022 In Miscellaneous Application No. 665 of 2021 In Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No. 3 of 2020

[2] SLP (C) No. 17927/2021

[3] Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No. 3 of 2020

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Pushkin Tandon, Intern at S.S. Rana & Co. has assisted in the research of this article.

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