The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the limitation period for statutory provisions under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act & the Arbitration & Concilliation Act with effect from March 15 until further orders.
Taking note of the fact the SC had passed an order on March 23 to extend the limitation for filings in Courts/Tribunals in the wake of COVID-19 situation, the bench ordered :
"it is hereby ordered that all periods of limitation prescribed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 shall be extended with effect from 15.03.2020 till further orders to be passed by this Court in the present proceedings".
"In case the limitation has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period from 15.03.2020 till the date on which the lockdown is lifted in the jurisdictional area where the dispute lies or where the cause of action arises shall be extended for a period of 15 days after the lifting of lockdown", added the bench comprising CJI S A Bobde, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
The order was passed in an application seeking extension of limitation under Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave (Appointed Amicus Curiae) submitted that the March 23 order should be extended to all "statutory proceedings"
Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora referred to an application moved for purposes of extending limitation in terms of statutory requirements under Section 29A of the Arbitration Act, i.e. the statutory period within which an arbitral award has to be passed.
Advocate Mayank Kshirsagar appeard for Applicant- Advocate Sahil Mongia and sought extension of limitation period of 30 days w.r.t Service of Legal/Demand Notice in terms of Section 138(b) of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
The bench also directed Attorney General KK Venugoal to file a response to all applications pertaining to the issue of ambit of laws in which extension of limitation of time line prescribed is required to be extended.
Earlier, on March 23, when the lockdown had first been announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a CJI led bench had passed a general order extending Limitation with effect from March 15, invoking special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India.
The March 23 order had been passed with the objective of reducing physical filings in courts and tribunals across the countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Supreme Court had ordered,
"To obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunals across the country including this Court, it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws whether condonable or not shall stand extended w.e.f.15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings"
The bench had further stated that the same shall be binding on all courts/tribunals as per Article 141,
"We are exercising this power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declare that this order is a binding order within the meaning of Article 141 on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities".
Click here to download order