Taking note of the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Supreme Court has ordered the extension of limitation period for filing of cases and applications in courts and tribunals.
“The order dated 23.03.2020 is restored and in continuation of the subsequent orders dated 08.03.2021, 27.04.2021 and 23.09.2021, it is directed that the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 shall stand excluded for the purposes of limitation as may be prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi judicial proceedings”, the Court ordered.
The further directions are as follows :
“2. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 03.10.2021, if any, shall become available with effect from 01.03.2022.
3. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 01.03.2022. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 01.03.2022 is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
4. It is further clarified that the period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 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”.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Surya Kant passed the order on an application filed by the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) in the suo motu case In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation.
The SCAORA sought for restoration of the limitation extension – which was withdrawn with effect from October 2 last year when the COVID cases subsided – taking note of the rising cases of COVID in what appears to be the third wave of the pandemic driven by the Omicron variant of Coronavirus.
The Attorney General for India KK Venugopal supported the SCAORA plea.
It was on March 23, 2020 that the Supreme Court ordered the extension of limitation for the first time after taking suo motu cognizance of the Covid-19 situation.
Noticing that the country was returning to normalcy, the Supreme Court had on March 8, 2021, ended the extension of limitation with effect from 14.03.2021, observing that the COVID-19 situation has improved.
However, the orders were revived in the wake of the second wave of Covid-19 in April 2021. The same was withdrawn by order dated 23rd September with effect from October 2, 2021, after noting that normalcy was returning.
Chronology of Limitation Extension
23.03.2020 : SC extends limitation period w.e.f 15.03.2020 till further orders.
08.03.201 : SC recalls limitation extension w.e.f 15.03.2021; excludes period from 15.03.2020 till 14.03.2021 from limitation
27.04.2021 : SC revives limitation extension by restoring order dated 23.03.2020; period from 14.03.2021 excluded from limitation until further orders
23.09.2021 : SC recalls limitation extension w.e.f 02.10.2021; period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 excluded from limitation.
10.01.2022 : SC restores limitation extension; excludes period from 15.03.2020 till 28.02.2022 from limitation
Case Details: In Re Cognizance For Extension Of Limitation
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 31
Click here to read/download the order