COVID Spike: SC again relaxes limitation period to file Cases across the Country

The Supreme Court while taking cognizance of the Application filed by the Supreme Court Advocates­ on­ Record Association again relaxed the limitation period for filing Cases across the Country.
In March, 2020, the Supreme Court took Suo Motu cognizance of the difficulties that might be faced by the litigants in filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/ all other quasi proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under any special laws (both Central and/or State) due to the outbreak of the COVID­19 pandemic.

The Court directed extension of the period of limitation in all proceedings before Courts/Tribunals. Thereafter, due to a second surge in COVID­19 cases, the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) intervened in the Suo Motu proceedings by filing Miscellaneous Application seeking restoration of the order relaxing limitation.
Supreme Court Advocates ­on­ Record Association again filed an Application in the context of the spread of the new variant of the COVID-­19 and the drastic surge in the number of COVID cases across the country.

The three Judge bench of the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Surya Kant noted that the impact of the surge of the virus on public health and adversities faced by litigants in the prevailing conditions, it is appropriate to dispose of the application. The court issued 4 directions.

Firstly, the order of 2020 is restored and in continuation of the subsequent orders of 2021, it is ordered that the period from 15th of March 2020 till 28th of February 2022 shall be excluded for the purposes of limitation as may be prescribed under any general or special laws in respect of all judicial or quasi judicial proceedings.

Secondly, the balance period of limitation remaining as on 3rd of November 2021, if any, shall be available with effect from 1st of March 2022.

Thirdly, in cases where the limitation would have expired during the period between 15th of March 2020 till 28th of February 2022, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 1st of March 2022. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 1st of March 2022 is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.

Lastly, the court clarified that the period from 15 of March 2020 till 28th of February 2022 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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