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Supreme Court: Temporary suspension of limitation period

Author: Gaurav Shanker, Managing Partner And Yamini Mishra, Associate |

Article by Business Law Chamber

When, apparently, everything was returning to normalcy, the deadly second wave of novel coronavirus hit the nation, overrunning all hospitals and healthcare facilities and sadly, even crematoriums. Just a year back, the virus hit India, in the month of March, creating an alarming situation around the country. The then situation was addressed by the Supreme Court, whereby, the Court took cognizance and passed an order dated 23 march, 2020 extending the limitation period for filing cases, applications, suits, appeals and other proceedings.

Thereafter, the said extension was brought to an end very recently on 8 March, 2021 by the Court, when the country started returning to normalcy and all the Courts and Tribunals started functioning either physically or by virtual mode. However, not even less than a month later, the country was again distressed with the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak. Considering the conditions prevailing in the country, the Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association filed an interlocutory application for extending the limitation period and restoring the order dated 23 March, 2020 highlighting the difficulties faced by litigants and advocates in filing cases in various courts and tribunals in Delhi.

The bench comprising the recently appointed Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and AS Bopanna passed the order in the suo motu cognizance of the case In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation. The Supreme Court while considering the current situation, has extended the limitation period for filing cases and appeals and restored its order dated 23 March, 2020 directing that:

“the period of limitation, as prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, whether condonable or not is extended till any further order.

It has been further clarified that the period from 14th March,2020 till further orders shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29Aof 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 of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings".

In these unprecedented conditions across the country, this order for extension of the limitation period has definitely come as a great relief to the litigants and the public at large.

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