The Supreme Court of India took suo-moto cognizance of the challenge faced by the country on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the hardships faced by litigants across the country as a result thereof and passed an order dated 23rd March, 2020 in Suo-Moto Writ Petition No.3 of 2020 extending the period of limitation in filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals and all other proceedings irrespective of the period of limitation from 15th March, 2020 till further orders.
Thereafter, having noticed that the country was returning to normalcy and all courts and tribunals had started functioning either physically or by virtual mode, extension of limitation was required to be regulated and brought to an end, the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed an order dated 8th March, 2021 in Suo-Moto Writ Petition No.3 of 2020 directing that for the purpose of computing limitation for any suit, appeal, application of proceeding, the period from 15th March, 2020 till 14th March, 2021 would stand excluded. In cases where the limitation would have expired during this period, notwithstanding the actual balance of limitation remaining, all persons would have a limitation period of 90 days from 15th March, 2021.
Thereafter, taking judicial notice of the extraordinary situation created by a sudden and second outburst of the COVID-19 virus cases, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Miscellaneous Application No. 665 of 2021 in Suo-Moto Writ Petition No.3 of 2020 passed an Order dated 27th April, 2021 restoring the previous order dated 23rd March, 2020 and directed that in continuation of the order dated 8th March, 2021, the periods 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. The Hon’ble Supreme Court accordingly issued the following clarification “...the period from 14th March, 2021 till further orders shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29 A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12 A 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.”1
By - Chaitanyaa Bhandarkar