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Judgments on the Extension of Limitation Interval post-COVID Pandemic it’s best to know!

Author in the present article has compiled nine judgements of the Supreme Court and various High Courts regarding the Extension of Limitation Period post-COVID Pandemic

Supreme Court of India (March 2020)

Extension of the limitation period in all proceeding, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not

Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No(s).3/2020

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Supreme Court passed an order extending the limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by the Supreme Court itself.

Court invoked Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution while passing this order. The same order was communicated to all the High Courts and Subordinate Courts/Tribunal within the respective jurisdictions of all such High Courts.

NCLT (Issued a Notice) (March)

All litigants were issued a notice that the extension of limitation period granted by the Supreme Court stating that it will be applicable to the cases falling within the NCLT’s jurisdiction. The objective behind such order of Supreme Court was to reduce the physical filing in the Court and Tribunal across the country during the pandemic.

Supreme Court of India (May 2020)

Supreme Court extended the limitation period for statutory provisions under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act

Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No(s).3/2020

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Supreme-Court-clarification-of-its-extension-order

Supreme Court extended the limitation period for statutory provisions under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act with effect from March 15 until further orders.

The order was passed in an application seeking extension of limitation under Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The same shall be binding on all courts/tribunal.

Supreme Court of India (June 2020)

Extending limitation and the lockdown restrictions of the government will not affect the right of an accused to seek default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

S. Kasi v. State through the inspector of police samaynallur police station, Cr (App) No. 452 of 2020

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The Supreme Court held that its suo moto order extending limitation and the lockdown restrictions of the government will not affect the right of an accused to seek default bail under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

This ruling set aside the judgement of a single bench of Madras High Court in S Kasi v. State, which held that the time to file charge sheet under Section 167(2) CrPC will also get extended on account of the SC order extending limitation and the lockdown restrictions.

The Court held that the suo moto order extending limitation cannot be interpreted as extending the limitation period under Section 167(2) CrPC. The Court apprehended that the if the view of the HC single bench was accepted, it could lead to police taking extra liberties even with respect to production of accused after arrest.

The apex court also observed that the single judge had “breached judicial discipline” with its judgment, as it was contrary to the judgment of another judgment of a single bench, which had held that the right to default bail was not affected by the order extending limitation.

Kerala High Court (July 2020)

Extension of the limitation does not affect the right of an accused to default bail under Section 167(2) of CrPC.

Md. Ali v. State or Kerala and Ors., Bail App No. 2856 of 2020

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The Kerala High Court has held that the Supreme Court order dated March 23, 2020, whereby the period of limitation for filing cases was extended in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, does not affect the right of an accused to default bail under Section 167(2) of CrPC.

High Court has clarified that a reading of the general order passed by the Supreme Court to extend the period of limitation for filing cases would show that those directions were issued to obviate difficulties faced by the litigants, lawyer and they are “applicable to petitions/applications/suits/appeals and other proceedings wherein a period of limitation is prescribed under the general law of Limitation or under Special Laws.”

Supreme Court of India (July 2020)

Extension limitation for filing of cases to Section 29A and 23(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No(s).3/2020

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The Supreme Court applied its suo moto order extending limitation for filing of cases to Section 29A and 23(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

The Bench has also allowed the use of electronic means such as e-mail, messenger services (like WhatsApp) for service of notice. The bench has however declined to pass orders extending the validity period of cheque, saying that it was a matter for the Reserve Bank of India to decide by acting under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act.

Supreme Court of India (September 2020)

Extension only “the period of limitation” and not the period up to which delay can be condoned

Sagufa Ahmed and Ors. v. Upper Assam Plywood Products Pvt Ltd and Ors., Civil Appeal Nos. 3007-3008 of 2020

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Supreme Court clarified its 23rd March order and observed that the said order extended only “the period of limitation” and not the period up to which delay can be condoned in exercise of discretion conferred by the statute.

The Court held that the expression “prescribed period” appearing in Section 4 of the Limitation Act cannot be construed to mean anything other than the period of limitation.

Supreme Court upheld an order passed by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal dismissing an application for condonation of delay as well as an appeal as time barred.

Bench held that the appellant cannot claim the benefit of the order for enlarging, even the period up to which delay can be condoned.

Supreme Court of India (December 2020)

Extension of the limitation for filing in courts and tribunals is still operative.

M/S. SS Group Pvt. Ltd. v. Aaditya J. Garg & Anr., CA No. 4085 of 2020

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The Supreme Court observed that its order of 23rd March 2020 extending limitation for filing in courts and tribunals is still operative.

It set aside an order passed by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission which declined to take a written statement on the ground that it has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond 45 days.

The court noted that, in this case, the period of 30 days to file written statement expired on 12.08.2020 and extended period of 15 days expired on 27.08.2020 and the same was filed only thereafter.

The court observed that it is true that the decision of the Constitution Bench of this Court in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Hilli Multipurpose Cold Storage clearly provides that no written statement is to be allowed to be filed beyond the period of 45 days as per Section 38 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, the bench noted, however, the same shall be superseded with the Supreme Court extension order of March 2020.

Calcutta High Court (January 2021)

Extension of the limitation period would apply only to the first 30 days for filing written statement

Siddha Real Estate Development Private Limited v. Girdhar Fiscal Services Pvt. Ltd., IA No. GA 2 of 2020

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The Calcutta High Court has observed that the order of the Supreme Court dated 23rd March, 2020 extending limitation period would apply only to the first 30 days for filing written statement under Order VIII Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure and not to the additional 90 days which follows the prescribed period for matters covered by the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

The 90 days additional window following the prescribed period is the additional period and not the prescribed period of limitation under Order VIII Rule 1 CPC.

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