Continuing Covid = Extension Of Limitation Period

In light of the exponential spread of Covid cases with the Omicron variant across India, the Supreme Court suo motu extended the limitation period for filing cases across various general and specific laws. The said order was passed on 10th January 2022 In Cognizance for Extension of Limitation Miscellaneous Application No. 21 of 2022.

The background

Consequent to Covid19 being declared a pandemic which spread rampantly, on 23rd March 2020, for the first time, the Supreme Court suo motu ordered extension of limitation period of filing cases across various laws. Thereafter the Supreme Court again extended the limitation period with a view not to inconvenience the parties / lawyers approaching various Courts.

A look at the chronology of extension provided by the Apex Court.

Date of SC order


Period excluded from Limitation


Onset of first wave of Covid19

From 15th March 2020 until further orders


SC ends the extension of Limitation period vide order dated 23rd March 2020 due to declining Covid19 cases in the first wave.

15.03.2020 – 14.03.2021 excluded from Limitation period


Onset of delta variant second wave of Covid19; revival of extension of Limitation period

15.03.2020 – 14.03.2021 excluded from Limitation period;
Limitation extended until further orders


SC ends the extension of Limitation period vide order dated 27th April 2021 due to declining Covid19 cases in the second wave

15.03.2020 – 02.10.2021 excluded from Limitation period


Onset of the Omicron variant third wave of the Covid19; revival of extension of limitation period

15.03.2020 – 28.02.2022 excluded from Limitation period

An application was made by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) seeking extension of limitation period. The order dated 10th January 2022 was passed by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Surya Kant.  The Attorney General of India KK Venugopal made submissions in support of the SCAORA. 

The 10th January 2022 order further clarified the following:

  1. The period from 15.03.2020 to 28.02.2022 shall stand excluded from the limitation period, for the purpose of instituting any suit, application, proceeding or appeal. The balance period of limitation remaining as on 03.10.2021, if any, shall become available w.e.f 01.03.2022.
  2. (a) If the limitation period expired between 15.03.2020 to 28.02.2022, then, notwithstanding the actual balance limitation period remaining, all persons shall have a limitation of 90 days from 01.03.2022 (i.e, 03.04.2022)
    (b) If the actual balance of limitation period remaining w.e.f 01.03.2022 is greater than 90 days, than that longer period shall apply.
  3. The period from 15.03.2020 to 28.02.2022 shall stand excluded in computing periods under:
    (i) Sections 23(4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996
    (ii) Section 23(4) states the statement of claim and defence shall be completed within 6 months from date the arbitrator(s) receive notice of their appointment in writing.
    (iii) Section 29A states that arbitral tribunal shall publish the award within 12 months from completion of hearing of pleadings.
    (iv) Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act 2015, This section makes pre institution mediation between parties mandatory before filing a suit.
    (v) Section 138 (b) and (c) of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881
    (b) the payee or the holder of the cheque, makes a demand for the payment of the said amount of money by giving a notice in writing, to the drawer of the cheque, within 30 days of the receipt of information by him from the bank regarding the return of the cheque as unpaid;
    (c) the drawer of such cheque fails to make the payment of the said amount of money to the payee or holder of the cheque, within 15 days of the receipt of the said notice
    Any other law which prescribes period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.

In a related development, on 10th January 2022, the principal bench of the NCLAT, Delhi, in M/s. Essjay Ericsson Private Limited vs M/s. Frontline (NCR) Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd Company Appeal AT No. 936 of 2021 passed an order stating that there is no need to file a separate application u/s 5 of the Limitation 1963 consequent to the suo motu order passed by the Hon;ble Supreme Court. 

Section 5 of the Limitation Act 1963 deals with condonation of delay and provides that any appeal or application under any provision of the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 may be admitted after the prescribed period, if the appellant has satisfied the court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or application within such time period.   

The principal bench of the NCLAT, Delhi held that when the Hon’ble Supreme Court in exercise of jurisdiction of Article 142 of the Constitution of India has directed for extension of period of limitation, a litigant is entitled for the benefit of extended period of limitation and if the petition, application, suit, appeal etc. are filed within extended period of limitation, the application, appeal, suit etc. shall be treated within period of limitation. When the Hon’ble Supreme Court has granted extension of period of limitation, it is not necessary to file application u/s 5 for condonation of delay.

Extension of limitation period: Pro-active judicial response to Covid

The Limitation Act 1963 is to prescribe and set specific time frame within remedies can be sought by parties in courts of law. It prescribes the period within which legal remedy can be enforced. The main objective is to ensure speedy provision of justice to parties as unending periods of litigation will only involve more time and cost.

By passing suo motu orders extending the limitation period across all general and specific laws, the Supreme Court continues to re-orient functioning of the judicial system in response to the growing / recurring surge in Covid19 cases. This has been enforced to maintain a balance between protecting health and lives of citizens while not putting them through hardship to procure legal remedies.


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