Supreme Court recalls its Suo-Moto extension to limitations w.e.f. October 02, 2021

Brief background: Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March, 2020, this Court took Suo Motu cognizance of the difficulties that might be faced by the litigants in filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/ all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under any special laws (both Central and/or State). On 23.03.2020, this Court directed extension of the period of limitation in all proceedings before the Courts/ Tribunals including this Court w.e.f. 15.03.2020 till further orders.

Later, considering the normalcy being restored, Hon’ble court issued an order on 08.03.2021 for ending the extension period w.e.f. 15.03.2020 stating that in cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15.03.2020 till 14.03.2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 15.03.2021. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 15.03.2021, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply. Also, in computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding, the period from 15.03.2020 till 14.03.2021 shall stand excluded. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 15.03.2020, if any, shall become available with effect from 15.03.2021.

Again later, taking into cognizance the second wave of COVID-19, SC had in Miscellaneous Application No.665 of 2021 restored its order dated 23.03.2020 and ordered that the period(s) of limitation, as prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, whether condonable or not, shall stand extended till further orders.

End of limitation: Recently, a request has been made before this court pleading that there is no requirement for continuance of the initial order passed by this Court on 23.03.2020 and relaxation of the period of limitation need not be continued any further. In light of this request, Hon’ble SC has disposed of the M.A. No.665 of 2021 with the following directions:

  • In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding, the period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall stand excluded. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 15.03.2021, if any, shall become available with effect from 03.10.2021.
  • In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 03.10.2021. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 03.10.2021, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
  • The period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.

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List of Supreme Court Judgments on Suo-Moto extension to limitations

Supreme Court Judgment Date Link
23/09/2021 SC Recalls Suo Motu Extension Of Limitation Period
27/04/2021 SC Restores Order Extending Limitation; Excluded period from 14.03.2021 in Limitation Computation
08.03.2021 SC excludes period from 15.03.2020 till 14.03.2021 in Limitation Computation
23/03/2020 SC indefinitely extends limitation period for filing appeals

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