Limitation Period During COVID-19

Last Updated at: May 28, 2020
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Limitation Period During COVID-19

The last few months have been extremely unprecedented due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The government has implemented many preventive and precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus. In order to enforce the social distancing norms, the government has shut down most of the government machinery. 

In lieu of such measures, all the Courts, Tribunals, and dispute settlement machinery in India have been closed completely or partially with only restricted functioning. Even in such restricted functions, only urgent matters are heard by the Courts via video conferencing. Physical inaccessibility of Courts and other dispute settlement machinery has largely impacted the limitation period for filing of petitions, applications, suits, appeals, etc as prescribed under the general and special laws of Centre and State. 

ABOUT LAW OF LIMITATION

As a general rule, any suit, petition, application, appeal, etc when filed after the expiry of the limitation period as fixed by general or special law, shall be dismissed even though the limitation is not set up as a defense. The Limitation Act of 1963 is a general law governing the period of limitation which sets the limitation period and the time from which the limitation period starts to run. Apart from the Limitation Act, many Special Acts, dealing with specific kinds of cases prescribe the limitation period for those cases dealt with by it. 

In general, when the limitation period falls on a day when the Court is closed, the suit/application/petition/appeal can be made on the day when the Court reopens. In the present situation, when the entire country is in lockdown, if all those cases to which the limitation expired during the lockdown period is asked to file on the day of reopening will be complete havoc. Moreover, with the restrictions on movement, it will not be possible for the lawyers to be prepared for filing when the Court reopens. 

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EXTENSION OF LIMITATION PERIOD BY SUPREME COURT

Considering all these difficulties, The Supreme Court of India on 23rd of March, 2020 passed an order excluding the period of lockdown in computing the limitation period. The Supreme Court passed this order under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India in order to do complete justice to the aggrieved and such an order is binding on all the Courts within the territory of India. 

In the order, the Supreme Court took cognizance of the present pandemic situation which poses challenges in filing petitions, suits, applications, appeals, etc. in all proceedings under the general and special law. In order to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that physical presence is not necessary for such filings, the Supreme Court held that 

“the period of limitation in all proceedings under a general and special law, whether or not its delay is condonable, shall stand extended with effect from 15/03/2020 until further notice”

WHAT THE ORDER ENTAILS?

The implication of such an order is that the period of limitation stops running and it will be resumed from the date which will be notified by the Supreme Court in the near future. For instance, if an order is passed by a lower Court say on 10/03/2020, the period to file an appeal to the concerned High Court is 30 days i.e. 10/04/2020. As the limitation period is suspended from 15/03/2020, the aggrieved party will still have 25 days to file the appeal once the Courts are reopened. 

This order is applicable to all civil, criminal  and writ petitions. It is applicable for cases under special laws like the Consumer Protection Act, etc. So the aggrieved parties need not fear to lose the cases for being time-barred by the Law of Limitation. For cases of urgent nature, there is an option of e-filing and video conferencing provided the Judge is satisfied with the reasons for urgency. 

 

 

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Limitation Period During COVID-19

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The last few months have been extremely unprecedented due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The government has implemented many preventive and precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus. In order to enforce the social distancing norms, the government has shut down most of the government machinery. 

In lieu of such measures, all the Courts, Tribunals, and dispute settlement machinery in India have been closed completely or partially with only restricted functioning. Even in such restricted functions, only urgent matters are heard by the Courts via video conferencing. Physical inaccessibility of Courts and other dispute settlement machinery has largely impacted the limitation period for filing of petitions, applications, suits, appeals, etc as prescribed under the general and special laws of Centre and State. 

ABOUT LAW OF LIMITATION

As a general rule, any suit, petition, application, appeal, etc when filed after the expiry of the limitation period as fixed by general or special law, shall be dismissed even though the limitation is not set up as a defense. The Limitation Act of 1963 is a general law governing the period of limitation which sets the limitation period and the time from which the limitation period starts to run. Apart from the Limitation Act, many Special Acts, dealing with specific kinds of cases prescribe the limitation period for those cases dealt with by it. 

In general, when the limitation period falls on a day when the Court is closed, the suit/application/petition/appeal can be made on the day when the Court reopens. In the present situation, when the entire country is in lockdown, if all those cases to which the limitation expired during the lockdown period is asked to file on the day of reopening will be complete havoc. Moreover, with the restrictions on movement, it will not be possible for the lawyers to be prepared for filing when the Court reopens. 

get Legal Advice

EXTENSION OF LIMITATION PERIOD BY SUPREME COURT

Considering all these difficulties, The Supreme Court of India on 23rd of March, 2020 passed an order excluding the period of lockdown in computing the limitation period. The Supreme Court passed this order under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India in order to do complete justice to the aggrieved and such an order is binding on all the Courts within the territory of India. 

In the order, the Supreme Court took cognizance of the present pandemic situation which poses challenges in filing petitions, suits, applications, appeals, etc. in all proceedings under the general and special law. In order to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that physical presence is not necessary for such filings, the Supreme Court held that 

“the period of limitation in all proceedings under a general and special law, whether or not its delay is condonable, shall stand extended with effect from 15/03/2020 until further notice”

WHAT THE ORDER ENTAILS?

The implication of such an order is that the period of limitation stops running and it will be resumed from the date which will be notified by the Supreme Court in the near future. For instance, if an order is passed by a lower Court say on 10/03/2020, the period to file an appeal to the concerned High Court is 30 days i.e. 10/04/2020. As the limitation period is suspended from 15/03/2020, the aggrieved party will still have 25 days to file the appeal once the Courts are reopened. 

This order is applicable to all civil, criminal  and writ petitions. It is applicable for cases under special laws like the Consumer Protection Act, etc. So the aggrieved parties need not fear to lose the cases for being time-barred by the Law of Limitation. For cases of urgent nature, there is an option of e-filing and video conferencing provided the Judge is satisfied with the reasons for urgency. 

 

 

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