Infinite and Still Continuing Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court for Extension of the Due Dates under General law of limitation or under Special Laws (both Central and/or State).

The Supreme Court of India has, vide its order dated 23-03-2020 SUO MOTU took COGNIZANCE FOR EXTENSION OF LIMITATION and passed the following order:

ORDER

1. This Court has taken Suo Motu cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of Covid-19 Virus and resultant difficulties that may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/applications/suits/ appeals/all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws (both Central and/or State).

To obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals across the country including this Court, it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings.

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.

2. This order was referred by the Supreme Court in a case SAGUFA AHMED & ORS. VERSUS UPPER ASSAM PLYWOOD PRODUCTS PVT. LTD. & ORS. September 18, 2020 wherein the appellant pleaded the benefit of this beneficial order for condonation of a delay of 45 days in filing the appeal. However, the SC did not allow the benefit of this order because the facts of the case were different than the facts of the Order. The Hon’ble SC observed as under: –

What was extended by the order of this Court was only “the period of limitation” and not the period upto which delay can be condoned in exercise of discretion conferred by the statute. The above order passed by this Court was intended to benefit vigilant litigants who were prevented due to the pandemic and the lockdown, from initiating proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed by general or special law. It is needless to point out that the law of limitation finds its root in two Latin maxims, one of which is Vigilantibus Non Dormientibus Jura Subveniunt which means that the law will assist only those who are vigilant about their rights and not those who sleep over them.”

3. Later, on 19th December 2020 the Suo Moto order was again referred to by the Hon’ble SC by itself.

‘Order Extending Limitation Due to COVID19 Still Operative’: Supreme Court Directs NCDRC To Take on Record A Written Statement Filed Belatedly

The Supreme Court observed that its order of 23rd March 2020 extending limitation for filing in courts and tribunals is still operative and set aside  an order passed by National Consumer Disputes Commission which declined to take a written statement on the ground that it has no power to extend the time for filing the response to the complaint beyond 45 days.

The Hon’ble SC, referred to its order dated 23.3.2020 passed by it in Suo Motu Writ Petition “Re: Cognizance for Extension of Limitation” and observed as under:

The limitation for filing the written statement in the present proceedings before the National Commission would be deemed to have been extended as it is clear from the order dated 23.03.2020 that the extended period of limitation was applicable to all petitions/ applications/suits/appeals and all other proceedings. The Hon’ble SC further observed:

The above order is still operative and by subsequent orders, the scope has been enlarged so that the said order applies in other proceedings also.  In the present matter, it is an admitted fact that the period of limitation of 30 days to file the written statement had expired on 12.08.2020 extended period of 15 days expired on 27.08.2020. This period expired when the order dated 23.03.2020 passed by this Court in SMW(C) No.3 of 2020 was continuing…

As such, the delay of four days in filing the written statements in the pending proceedings before the National Commission deserves to be allowed, and is accordingly allowed.”

This Order overrides all the due dates prescribed under various laws including the Income Tax Act 1961 and the Goods & Services Tax Act 2017 because the Parliament has not passed any order/law/resolution/ordinance to overrule this order of the Hon’ble SC and therefore it is still continuing & operative and as such all due dates today are still open and would remain so until the Hon’ble SC passes further order to provide new due dates for various limitation period under various laws.

Disclaimer: The above information has been compiled only for academic purposes and the readers are requested to obtain professional advice before acting on this information. The author owes no liability or responsibility to anyone acting on the basis of the above compiled information.

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