COVID-19 pandemic|SC proposes to lift extension of limitation period

The bench noted the submission that the pending review petition was yet to come up before the high court and granted liberty to petitioners to mention the matter thereafter. [File]

The Supreme Court Wednesday said it proposes to lift the extension of limitation period for filing appeals which was granted by it with effect from March 15 last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The apex court had on March 23 last year invoked its plenary power under Article 142 of the Constitution to extend the limitation period of appeals from courts or tribunals on account of the pandemic.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde on Wednesday told Attorney General K K Venugopal that it proposes to lift the extension of limitation period with effect from March 15 this year and it might give a period of 90 days thereafter for the eventuality if restrictions may be re-imposed due to the pandemic.

The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, told Venugopal to draft the clauses which would help litigants after lifting of extension of limitation period in case the restrictions would come into effect again.

At the outset, Venugopal told the bench that the apex court could exclude the period of one year from March 15, 2020 to March 15 this year from the period of limitation and grant some further time uniformly across the board.

“We propose to lift the extension of limitation period from March 15, 2021,” the bench said.

The bench asked how people living in COVID-19 containment zones would go out to file cases.

The top court observed that the local authorities can make provisions for this.

Venugopal said he would discuss the issue with the concerned officers.

The bench said it would hear the matter on Thursday.

In its March 23 last year order, the apex court had said, “This court has taken suo motu cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of COVID-19 virus and resultant difficulties that may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/applications/suits/ appeals/all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws (both Central and/or State).”

“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. March 15, 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this court in present proceedings,” it had said.