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The Supreme Court today extended the limitation period for statutory provisions under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act with effect from March 15, until further orders.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, in a suo motu petition, has also ordered that in case the limitation has expired after March 15, then the period from March 15 “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”.
The order reads,
“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."
On March 23, the Apex Court had directed the suspension of the limitation period running under all general and special laws, with effect from March 15, 2020, in view of the difficulties faced by the litigants in approaching the courts amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
In this regard, the March 23 order passed by the three-Judge Bench of CJI Bobde and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Surya Kant read:
"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."
Wednesday’s order was passed in an application seeking extension of limitation for matters under Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
Amicus Curiae in the case, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, submitted before the Bench that the March 23 order should be extended to all "statutory proceedings."
During the course of submissions, Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora also referred to an application moved for extending limitation with respect to statutory requirements like that under Section 29A of the Arbitration Act, where the statutory period within which an arbitral award has to be passed is laid down.
Read the order here.