Limitation Of Time For Filing Cases Is Back
Lawyers and members of the media assemble outside the Supreme Court in New Delhi. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Limitation Of Time For Filing Cases Is Back

The time limits prescribed under various laws for an aggrieved person to approach courts will come into effect again. The Supreme Court has ended the extension of the limitation period which it had ordered last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a way, the order marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic for the legal system in India, said Senior Advocate Vivek Sood.

This was expected as there was a lot of clamour for putting an end to the order which had relaxed the period of limitation for filing cases, Lomesh Nidumuri, partner at IndusLaw, said.

In the order, the bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justice L Nageswara Rao, and Justice S Ravindra Bhat passed the following directions:

  • The time between March 15, 2020, and March 14, 2021, shouldn’t be counted while calculating the limitation period. For instance, if a cheque bounce event occurred on October 3, 2020, then the period of limitation within which legal recourse should have been taken would be counted from March 15, 2021.
  • If the period of limitation for any case would have expired between March last year and 2021, there shall be a further limitation period of 90 days or the actual time left for filing of cases, whichever is higher. This will be counted from March 15, 2021. For example, if the deadline to approach the court for a property dispute was ending between March 15, 2020, to March 14, 2021, the person aggrieved will have another 90 days or the actual time left for filing the case, whichever is higher, to approach the court.
  • Limitation period restrictions will also kick in for certain provisions under Commercial Courts Act, arbitration law and cheque bounce proceedings. For these, March 15, 2021, will be the day from which the computation of the limitation period will start.

In giving these directions, the Supreme Court noted that:

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. 
Supreme Court of India

The exclusion of almost one year will give sufficient relief to people whose working was disrupted during the course of the pandemic, Senior Advocate Tarun Gulati said.

The order paves way for more cases being filed in the courts as many litigants held on to filing their cases due to the relaxation of the limitation period, said Lomesh. “It is critical for the litigants to now assess the limitation period for commencing their litigation,” he said. “Any delay in initiating legal action would bar their legal remedy.‘’

The next step in returning to normalcy will be to re-open the physical hearings in court which too is gradually happening, Sood said.

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