Expansion of the Pandemic Restriction, written by Surya Sunilkumar, a student at the Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies
In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation (2020)
In March 2020, the Indian government announced a lockdown due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus or Covid-19. This had brought the whole country to a standstill. All branches of the economy faced great difficulties, as did the judiciary. In Re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation (2020), taking into account the current pandemic situation, the Supreme Court of India issued a Suo Moto ruling stating that attorneys and litigants who have problems with the physical filing procedures in the respective courts, don’t have to go to the courts to do this. It also ordered that all statute of limitations of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act be extended and issued instructions on the Tradable Instruments Act of 1881 from March 15, 2020 until further orders were issued in the present proceedings.
The Supreme Court relied on Article 142 in conjunction with Article 141 of the Indian Constitution because many attorneys and litigators struggled to bring proceedings during the lockdown and failed to comply with the restrictions set out in the 1996 Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The Tradable Instruments Act of 1881 and restrictions on the service of subpoenas, notification, and exchange of pleadings and documents.
- The Supreme Court has issued an order to extend all limitation periods required by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. Some minor temporary changes have also been sought in the order listed above, which:
- Section 29 (A) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 did not set a statute of limitations, but did set a time limit for certain acts, such as: B. the granting of an arbitral award within a certain period. The order therefore provided for an extension of the limitation period to be granted.
- It was also ordered that the extension in Section 23 (4) of the above-mentioned law be applied.
- Section 12 (A) of the Commercial Courts Act 2015, which addresses the mandatory deadline for completing the process of mandatory pre-institution of mediation and settlement, has also been extended after the lock-up period was lifted plus 45 days thereafter.
- The order also states: The delivery of notices, subpoenas and the exchange of pleadings / documents are required for the judicial process. Therefore, it was ordered that alternative virtual methods such as email, fax, commonly used instant messaging services such as WhatsApp Telegram, etc. would be used.
- With regard to the renewal validity of a check, the bank found that the court did not consider it appropriate to interfere, although the period is prescribed not in the statutes but also in the RBI under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 with the prescribed Limitation period. It was pointed out that RBI can change the deadline accordingly at its own discretion.
- The extension envisaged by this decision by the Bank of the Supreme Court corresponds to the current situation of a pandemic. It was a complete relief.
- Since this is a temporary relief, the process will no longer be affected once the lock is over. It was clearly stated that the restriction will be extended until the lock ends.
- With the introduction of social distancing and blocking in India, it becomes difficult to physically file case processing and deliver notices, subpoenas and briefs / documents. This order made it easier by indicating that alternative virtual methods could be used to perform these procedures. Although it has reduced the burden on lawyers and litigators, it has one major drawback. There is a possibility that the submitted documents could be forged or manipulated, thereby calling into question the authenticity and validity of the document.
- Many people lost their businesses during the pandemic, making it difficult to make a profit. Since there is no extension of the validity of checks, many business people become insolvent because they do not have sufficient funds to repay them.
The decree passed by the bank has proven to be one of the key decisions as it asserted its power in the face of the ongoing pandemic that the public and the judiciary as a whole are facing. This decision will help keep the process running smoothly as the Hon’ble Court suggests possible alternatives. The extensions envisaged by the decree will help the people in dire need of this relief, thus reducing the burden on them.