At, Supreme Court of India
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE UDAY UMESH LALIT & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE DINESH MAHESHWARI
For the Petitioners: Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Sr. Advocate, Divya Roy, AOR. For the Respondent: -----
Heard Mr. Gopal Sankaranarayanan, learned Senior Counsel for the petitioners.
Considering the situation of Lockdown throughout the country due to the impending threat of pandemic (COVID-19), in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2020, this Court had passed the following order on 23.03.2020:
“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. 15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed by this Court in present proceedings.
We are exercising this power under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and declare that this order is a binding order within the meaning of Article 141 on all Courts/Tribunals and authorities.
This order may be brought to the notice of all High Courts for being communicated to all subordinate Courts/Tribunals within their respective jurisdiction.
Issue notice to all the Registrars General of the High Courts, returnable in four weeks.”
Subsequently, by further order dated 06.05.2020 of this Court, the period of limitation was extended till lockdown was completely lifted. Said Order dated 06.05.2020 passed by this Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2020 reads as under:
“IA No.48411/2020 – FOR DIRECTIONS
By way of filing this application for directions, the applicant has made the following prayer :
“To issue appropriate directions qua (i) arbitration proceedings in relation to section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and (ii) initiation of proceedings under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881;”
In view of this Court’s earlier order dated 23.03.2020 passed in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3/2020 and taking into consideration the effect of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) and resultant difficulties being faced by the lawyers and litigants and with a view to obviate such difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file such proceedings in respective Courts/Tribunal across the country including this Court, 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.
In case the limitation has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period from 15.03.2020 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.
In view of the above, the instant interlocutory application is disposed of.”
In the present case, by order dated 30.04.2019, the District Judge, Yupia, Arunachal Pradesh, had disposed of the application preferred by the present petitioner under Section 9 of the Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 1996. It appears that before the expiry of period of 45 days, no appropriate steps were taken by the petitioner.
However, while taking cognizance of the application for extension of time preferred on behalf of the petitioner, the District Judge had by order dated 18.03.2020 extended the operation of interim order dated 30.04.2019 for another period of 45 days.
In view of the continuing situation of pandemic and the period of Lockdown, another application was preferred on behalf of the petitioner seeking extension of the period. Said application was rejected by the District Court by order dated 21.04.2020. Challenge was raised to this order by filing Arbitration Appeal No.1 of 2020 before the High Court of Gauhati at Itanagar.
Mr. Gopal Sankaranaryanan, learned Senior Advocate submitted that the order dated 23.03.2020 passed by this Court granting extension insofar as period of limitatio
Please Login To View The Full Judgment!
n under the Arbitration Act is concerned, was brought to the notice of the High Court but the High Court declined to pass an appropriate order. In the premises, we issue notice returnable on 08.06.2020. Dasti service, in addition, is permitted. Liberty is granted to serve the learned Standing Counsel for the State. Interim order dated 30.04.2019, which was further extended for another period of 45 days by order dated 18.03.2020 shall continue to operate till further orders.