The Supreme Court of India (“SC”) vide its order dated 23.09.2021 has recalled the suo motu order of 27.04.2021, which had extended the limitation period for filing of petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/ all other proceedings, in view of the second wave of COVID -19 pandemic.

The SC after taking suo moto  cognizance on 27.03.2020 had directed extension of the limitation period in all proceedings w.e.f. 15.03.2020, which was extended from time to time. The said order was recalled by the SC on 08.03.2021 but on taking note of the second wave was restored again on 27.04.2021.

The SC in the suo motu order dated 23.09.2021 has observed that the country is returning to normalcy and the courts/ tribunals are functioning in a hybrid manner. Therefore, the SC ended the suo moto extension of limitation period for filing of petitions/applications/suits/ appeals, etc. with the following directions:

1)        The period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall stand excluded and the balance period of limitation remaining as on 15.03.2021, if any, will become available with effect from 03.10.2021 for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding.

2)        All persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 03.10.2021 whose limitation has expired from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021. In the event the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 03.10.2021, is greater than 90 days, than longer period shall apply.

3)        The period from 15.03.2020 till 02.10.2021 shall also stand excluded while computing the periods prescribed under:

(a)       Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996;

(b)       Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015;

(c)       Section 138 provisos (b) and (c) of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881; and

(d)       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.

The SC further held that the Government of India (“GOI”) shall amend the guidelines for containment zones, to state “Regulated movement will be allowed for medical emergencies, provision of essential goods and services, and other necessary functions, such as, time bound applications, including for legal purposes, and educational and job-related requirements.”

Originally published 30 September, 2021

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