The Supreme Court, during the pandemic had taken suo motu cognisance of the situation arising out of the difficulties that might be faced by the litigants across the country while filing petitions or proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under any special laws (both Central or State).
On 27th March, 2020, the Supreme Court, by an order, extended the period of limitation prescribed under the general law or special laws whether compoundable or not with effect from 15th March, 2020 till further notice.The Court was of the opinion that though the pandemic has not come to an end, but there is considerable improvement and the order dated 15th March, has served its purpose and the extension of limitation has to come to an end.A Bench consisting of Chief Justice S.A Bobde, L. Nageshwara Rao and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat considered the suggestions of Attorney General, and directed the further course of actions.
The directions were as follows:
1.While computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding, the period from 15th March 2020 to 14th March 2021 shall stand excluded.
2. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 15th March 2020, if any, shall become available with effect from 15th March 2021.
3. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15th March 2020 to 14th March 2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 15th March 2021. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 15th March, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
4.The period from 15th March 2020 to 14th March 2021 shall stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under :
i) Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
ii)Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and
iii)provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribes the period of limitation for instituting proceedings or outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.