Due to Covid 19, many parties were not able to fulfill their commitments and obligation to attend the court, tribunals, etc to file their suits and appeals within the prescribed time lines as per the law. The law in this case is the ‘ ‘The law of limitation’.
The Law of Limitation in India comprises of The Limitation Act, 1963 and the a few other special laws in form of limitation provisions incorporated within specific legislations.
The Law of Limitation prescribes for a period/timeline, during which a suit can be filed, or an appeal can be made in the relevant courts/tribunals. Limitation law periods apply on suits and appeals before all courts in India, including taxation matters ,Direct and Indirect taxes.
The resultant impact of all these limitation laws provides for the period after which a legal action cannot be brought to a judicial platform. This period is called the limitation period and any legal suit brought to the courts or the tribunals after such a period is barred by limitation. i.e time barred . The Law of Limitation applies automatically.
Due to the nation-wide lockdown, the Supreme Court took cognizance of the issues pertaining to period of limitation, and passed an order providing much need relief to litigants. Due to Covid 19, litigants across the country have been unable to reach judicial platform, high court, supreme court and different courts to enforce their legal and fundamental rights.
The Supreme Court, therefore, took suo motu cognizance of the difficulties faced by the litigants due to lockdown and passed an order pertaining to the Law of Limitation as a relief measure.
The Supreme Court passed an order, extending the period of limitation of all proceedings at all Courts/Tribunals across the country including the Supreme Court, from 15th March, 2020, till an order to this effect is passed. The extension of this limitation period shall be irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws, whether condonable or not.
The court also noted that,
“We are exercising this power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declare that this order is a binding order within the meaning of Article 141 on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities.”
The impact of this order of the supreme court is that the limitation period of all petitions/applications/suits/appeals/other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws (both Central and/or State) shall be extended indefinitely, from the 15th March, 2020.
It is very big relief to all the litigants whose legal actions had the limitation period ending after the 15thMarch, 2020, but were unable to pursue such litigation due to the lockdown.
Pursuant to the order, Delhi Govt. has also issued an order under the Delhi Value Added Tax Act, 2004 (‘DVAT Act, 2004’) extending the limitation period for matters under the DVAT Act, 2004.
Conclusion : It is expected that all the Judicial Platform, courts in India to take cognizance of the Supreme Court order in due time. The apex court thru its judgment has provided a broad range of relief , to the wide section of the litigants in the country .