On March 23, the Supreme Court passed a general order following the implementation of the lockdown. The Court, through this order, extended limitation periods with effect from March 15, 2020. In doing so, it invoked its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. Subsequently, several advocates filed an application before the apex court. It sought for extension of the limitation period under section 29A of the Arbitration Act; and section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
Section 29A of the Arbitration Act deals with the statutory period within which an arbitral award must pass. Meanwhile, section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments provides a 30 days limitation period for service of legal / demand notice. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave made some notable submissions as the amicus curiae. He submitted that the March 23 order should extend to all “statutory proceedings”. A bench comprising of CJI S.A. Bobde, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Hrishikesh Roy decided upon the matter.
The Bench took note of the March 23 order. Thus, it ordered for extension of all limitation periods under the concerned legislations with effect from 15.03.2020. Further stating, “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 lifting the lockdown.” The Court also directed Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to file a response to all applications pertaining to the similar issue of laws requiring extended limitation periods.