Due to the alarming situation by Covid-19 second wave, the court extended a limitation period of 90 days and if required in certain cases it would be more than 90 days for cases filing from 14th March, 2020. This notification was passed by the Supreme Court of India in the case of In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation Vs Union of India [SMW(C) No.-000003 – 2020] by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant and AS Bopana.
The Advocates of the Supreme Court on seeing the records Record Association (SCAORA) filed an application seeking the revival of the suo moto order already passed by the Court. The Court Earlier extended the application of the order to proceed under the Arbitration Act and Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Later, in July 2020, the Supreme Court clarified that this order will apply to Section 29A and 23(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and Section 12 of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015. The bench had passed an order in July last year in the Suo moto proceedings allowing the service of notice through WhatsApp and other online messenger services. At its initial stage, this court proposed the extension till 15th July 2021. Then, On the request of the Attorney General of India KK Venugopal, the bench proposed the extension till any further orders are given. The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also requested the bench to include the time period for doing any act under the prescribed law also to be extended.
The court in the suo moto case was of the opinion that, “the Covid-19 second wave has created an “alarming situation” and has put all the litigants in a “difficult situation”. The period from 15.03.2020 till 14.03.2021 was also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12Aof 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.
The Supreme Court disposed of the application stating that “Saying that there has been a deterioration of the Covid-19situation since then, the SCAORA seeks the revival of the limitation extension. After the passing of the above order, there has been a considerable and instrumental change in the circumstances all across the country with regard to the Covid cases and the same has taken a serious turn and has also affected the movement of the general public at large as the application says. The actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from15.03. 2021. In the event, the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from15.03.2021, is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.”