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The Court hearing the plaint can extend the period of limitation on justified reasons. – Madras High Court

We find that the written statement cannot be closed on the ground of limitation alone. Rather, in appropriate cases, the limitation can be extended. It would, however, not be that in all cases, extension should be granted. Rather, if no justification is given, the Court can refuse to extend the period of filing the written statement. These were discussed by the double bench of Hon’ble Mr. Munishwar Nath Bhandari, Acting Chief Justice & The Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. D. Audikesavalu in Straight line Cinemas v. Dream Warrior Pictures (OSA (CAD) Nos.167 & 168 of 2021)

The crux of the case herein is challenges are made to the order dated 13.07.2021 holding that the appellant-defendant has lost its rights to file the written statement and the judgment dated 01.10.2021 decreeing the suit filed by the plaintiff-non-appellant respectively. After service of notice in the suit, the appellant-defendant entered appearance through counsel. However, the written statement could not be filed due to the situation obtaining at the relevant time. Ignoring the aforesaid, the right of the appellant-defendant to file the written statement was closed by the order dated 13.07.2021 and therefore, the order has been challenged herein.

Learned counsel for the appellant submits that the plaint was filed in the year 2020 and the appellant-defendant put in appearance through the counsel on 23.11.2020. The right to file the written statement was closed on 13.07.2021 itself. He further referred to the similar matter in Centaur Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. v. Stanford Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. [SLP No.17298 of 2021 dated 04.01.2021] did not interfere with the order passed by the High Court extending the limitation for filing written statement. In view of the above, the order dated 13.07.2021, closing the right of the appellant-defendant to file the written statement is to be set aside and also the final order dated 01.10.2021 with a direction to the learned Single Judge to decide the suit afresh after considering the written statement.

The double bench of Hon’ble Mr. Munishwar Nath Bhandari, Acting Chief Justice & The Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. D. Audikesavalu allowed the petition OSA (CAD) Nos.167 and 168 of 2021 by stating “Since we have set aside the final order dated 01.10.2021 and permitted the appellant-defendant to file the written statement, the matter would now proceed further from the stage of filing of the written statement and accordingly, whatever position was obtaining at the stage of filing of the written statement, the same would operate now.

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Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan

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