By Mayank Aggarwal | May 06, 2020
The Supreme Court of India on 6th May, 2020 addressed the issue of difficulties faced by litigants in physically approaching courts due to the nationwide lockdown and other restrictions imposed on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While taking cognisance of the difficulties faced by litigants and lawyers and to obviate the need to go to Court to physically file proceedings before concerned Courts/Tribunals across the country, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ordered that all periods of limitation prescribed under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 shall stand extended with effect from 15.03.2020 till further orders.
The benefits of this order will extend to every person automatically who wishes to either initiate a fresh complaint or pursue proceedings already pending under Section 138 of NI Act. The Supreme Court order also brings much needed respite to litigants who were unable to pursue their pending arbitration proceedings due to the lockdown. Thus, all periods of limitation prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 shall stand extended.
The Apex Court in an interesting observation also held that if the limitation period has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period of limitation for those persons shall be extended to 15 days after the lockdown is lifted in the jurisdictional area. It has to be seen how courts and tribunals across the country interpret this.
The order dt 06.05.2020 can be accessed here.
It is noteworthy that this order has been passed in furtherance of the order passed by the Apex Court on 23.03.2020 when Court suo moto took cognisance of the difficulties faced by litigants all around the country and passed a general order in exercising of its constitutional powers under Article 142 read with Article 141 extending limitation periods in all matters from 15.03.2020 till further orders. Order dt 23.03.2020 on extension of limitation is available here.