Pursuant to the health emergency and the recommendation by the Government of India to maintain social distancing, the Apex Court, Suo Motu took cognizance of the situation arising out of the challenge faced by the country on account of COVID-19 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). The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India exercised the plenary powers bestowed upon it under Article 142 read with Article 141 of the Constitution of India and ordered that the 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 is passed by the Apex Court in present proceedings.
In wake of the lockdown extended till 17.05.2020 and considering the difficulties faced by lawyers/ litigants due to COVID-19, the Apex Court further modified its earlier order on 06.05.2020 directing 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. The Hon’ble Court further clarified that in case the limitation expires 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.