The Supreme Court today ended the extension of limitation period under various laws granted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That order was passed by a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ravindira Bhat.
Justifying its rationale behind ending the extension, the Court stated in its order,
“Though, we have not seen the end of the pandemic, there is considerable improvement. The lockdown has been lifted and the country is returning to normalcy. Almost all the Courts and Tribunals are functioning either physically or by virtual mode. We are of the opinion that the order dated 15.03.2020 has served its purpose and in view of the changing scenario relating to the pandemic, the extension of limitation should come to an end.”
After Considering the submissions made by the AG, the Court passed the following directions:
“1. In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding, the period from March 15, 2020 till March 14, 2021 shall stand excluded. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on March 15, 2020, if any, shall become available with effect from March 15, 2021.
2. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between March 15, 2020, till March 14, 2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from March 15, 2021. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from March 15, 2021, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
3. The period from March 15, 2010 till March 14, 2021 shall also stand excluded in computing the periods under 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.”
The Central government has been directed to amend its guidelines for containment zones :
“Regulated movement will be allowed for medical emergencies, provision of essential goods and services, and other necessary functions, such as, time bound applications, including for legal purposes, and educational and job-related requirements.”
Last year, the Court had taken up the issue suo motu, directing the suspension of the limitation period running under general and special laws, with effect from March 15, 2020, in view of the difficulties faced by the litigants in approaching the courts amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thereafter, the extension was further extended from time to time.
Read order here: