Supreme Court: Application of section 5 of the Limitation Act cannot be excluded given the scheme of Commercial Courts Act.

SLP was filed in the matter by Government of Maharashtra and by the Union of India respectively refusing of condonation of delay in the filing of the appeal under section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 beyond 120 days.

Refering to the case of Consolidated Engg. Enterprises v. Irrigation Deptt., (2008) 7 SCC 169 it was stated that it was open for the High Court to condone the delay applying section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and, as a matter of fact, a delay of what was stated to be 57 days was condoned.The issue arises before this court is whether the application of section 5 of the Limitation Act is excluded by the scheme of the Commercial Courts Act.

From the scheme of the Arbitration Act, condonation of delay under section 5 of the Limitation Act has to be seen in the context of the object of speedy resolution of disputes.However, to the appellate court under section 37 of the Arbitration Act, are governed by section 13 of the Commercial Courts Act. Sub-section (1A) of section 13 of Commercial Courts Act provides the forum for appeals as well as the limitation period to be followed, section 13 of the Commercial Courts Act being a special law as compared with the Limitation Act which is a general law, which follows from a reading of section 29(2) of Limitation Act.

Section 13(1A) of Commercial Courts Act lays down a period of limitation of 60 days uniformly for all appeals that are preferred under section 37 of the Arbitration Act.The court stated that “Section 13(1A) of Commercial Courts Act does not contain any provision akin to section 34(3) of the Arbitration Act. Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act only provides for a limitation period of 60 days from the date of the judgment or order appealed against, without further going into whether delay beyond this period can or cannot be condoned.”

Section 21 of the Commercial Courts Act was also pressed into service stating that the non-obstante clause contained in the Commercial Courts Act would override other Acts, including the Limitation Act, as a result of which, the applicability of section 5 thereof would be excluded, the reference was take from B.K. Educational Services (P) Ltd. v. Parag Gupta & Associates, (2019) 11 SCC 633.

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