The Law of Limitation

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Introduction

The Statute of Limitation is founded on public policy, its aim being to secure peace in the community, to suppress fraud and perjury, to quicken diligence and to prevent oppression. It seeks to bury all acts of the past which have not been agitated unexplainably and have from lapse of time become stale.

  • The law of limitation is enshrined in the legal maxim “Interest Reipublicae Ut Sit Finis Litium” (it is for the general welfare that a period be put to litigation). Rules of Limitation are not meant to destroy the rights of the parties, rather the idea is that every legal remedy must be kept alive for a legislatively fixed period of time
  • The Limitation Act neither confers a right nor an obligation to file a Suit, if no such right exists under the substantive law. It only provides a period of limitation for filing the Suit.

According to Halsbury’s Laws of England, Vol. 24, p. 181:
“330. Policy of Limitation Acts. The courts have expressed at least three differing reasons supporting the existence of statutes of limitations namely, (1) that long dormant claims have more of cruelty than justice in them, (2) that a defendant might have lost the evidence to disprove a stale claim, and (3) that persons with good causes of actions should pursue them with reasonable diligence”.
An unlimited limitation would lead to a sense of insecurity and uncertainty, and therefore, limitation prevents disturbance or deprivation of what may have been acquired in equity and justice by long enjoyment or what may have been lost by a party’s own inaction, negligence’ or laches.
(See: Popat and Kotecha Property v. State Bank of India Staff Assn. (2005) 7 SCC 510; Rajendar Singh & Ors. v. Santa Singh & Ors., AIR 1973 SC 2537; and Pundlik Jalam Patil v. Executive Engineer, Jalgaon Medium Project, (2008) 17 SCC 448)

The law on the issue can be summarised to the effect that where a case has been resented in the court beyond limitation, the applicant has to explain the court as to what was the “sufficient cause” which means an adequate and enough reason which prevented him to approach the court within limitation. In case a party is found to be negligent, or for want of bonafide on his part in the facts and circumstances of the case, or found to have not acted diligently or remained inactive, there cannot be a justified ground to condone the delay. No court could be justified in condoning such an inordinate delay by imposing any condition whatsoever. The application is to be decided only within the parameters laid down by this court in regard to the condonation of delay. In case there was no sufficient cause to prevent a litigant to approach the court on time condoning the delay without any justification, putting any condition whatsoever, amounts to passing an order in violation of the statutory provisions and it tantamounts to showing utter disregard to the legislature.

  • Appellate Tribunal under the SARFAESI Act has the power to condone the delay in filing an appeal before it by virtue of Section 18(2) SARFAESI Act and proviso to Section 20(3) of the RDB Act. No doubt the period of limitation for filing appeal under Section 18 of the SARFAESI Act is 30 days as against 45 days under Section 20 of the RDB Act. To this extent, legislative intent may be deliberate. The absence of an express provision for condonation, when Section 18(2) expressly adopts and incorporates the provisions of the RDB Act which contains provision for condonation of delay in filing of an appeal, cannot be read as excluding the power of condonation.BALESHWAR DAYAL JAISWAL VS BANK OF INDIA & ORS[2015]
  • It is well settled that exclusion of power of condonation of delay can be implied as laid down in Union of India vs. Popular Construction Co.12, Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board vs. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission13, Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise vs. Hongo India Private Limited14 and Gopal Sardar vs. Karuna Sardar15 relied upon on behalf of the Banks.
  • In Nahar Industrial Enterprises Ltd. vs. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corpn. , this Court examined the scheme of the two Acts in question and held that the Tribunal was a court but not a civil court for purposes of Section 24 of the CPC

Salient Features of the Limitation  Law:

1.The law of limitation is a statute of repose, designed to quieten title and to bar stale and water-logged disputes and is to be strictly complied with.1 Statutes of limitation by their very nature are strict and inflexible. The Act does not confer a right; it only regulates the rights of the parties. Such a regulatory enactment cannot be allowed to extinguish vested rights or curtail remedies, unless all the conditions for extinguishment of rights and curtailment of remedies arefully complied with in letter and spirit.  There is no scope in limitation law for any equitable or ethical construction to get over them.Justice, equity and good conscience do not override the law of limitation. Their object is to prevent stale demands and so they ought to be construed strictly;

2. The hurdles of limitation cannot be crossed under the guise of any hardships or  imagined inherent discretionary jurisdiction of the court.  Ignorance, negligence, mistake or hardship does not save limitation, nor does poverty of the parties;

3. It is salutary to construe exceptions or exemptions to a provision in a statute of limitation rather liberally while a strict construction is enjoined as regards the main provision. For when such a provision is set up as a defence to an action, it has to be clearly seen if the case comes strictly within the ambit of the provision;

4. There is absolutely no room for the exercise of any imagined judicial discretion vis-à-vis interpretation of a provision, whatever hardship may result from following strictly the statutory provision. There is no scope for any equity. The court cannot claim any special inherent equity jurisdiction;

5.A statute of limitation instead of being viewed in an unfavourable light, as an unjust and discreditable defence, should have received such support from courts of justice as would have made it what it was intended emphatically to be, a statute of repose. It can be rightly stated that the plea of limitation cannot be deemed as an unjust or discreditable  defence. There is nothing morally wrong and there is no disparagement to the party pleading it.It is not a mere technical plea as it is based on sound public policy and no one should be deprived of the right he has gained by the law.It is indeed often a righteous defence.The court has to only see if the defence is good in law and not if it is moral or conscientious;

6.The intention of the Law of Limitation is not to give a right where there is not one, but to interpose a bar after a certain period to a suit to enforce an existing right.

7. The Law of Limitation is an artificial mode conceived to terminate justiciable disputes. It has therefore to be construed strictly with a leaning to benefit the suitor;

8.Construing the Preamble and Section 5 of the Act it will be seen that the fundamental principle is to induce the claimants to be prompt in claiming rights. Unexplained delay or laches on the part of those who are expected to be aware and conscious of the legal position and who have facilities for proper legal assistance can hardly be encouraged or countenanced.

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The Limitation Act, 1963

FIRST DIVISION SUITS SECOND DIVISION APPEALS ♠THIRD DIVISION–APPLICATIONS

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The Limitation Act, 1963

[Act, No. 36 of 1963]

[5th October, 1963]

An Act to consolidate and amend the law for the limitation of suits and other proceedings and for purposes connected therewith.BE it enacted by Parliament in the Fourteenth Year of the Republic of India as follows:

Part I – Preliminary

1. Short title, extent and commencement.—

(1)This Act may be called the Limitation Act, 1963.(2)It extends to the whole of India except, the State of Jammu and Kashmir.(3)It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

2. Definitions.—

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

(a)“applicant” includes—(i)a petitioner;(ii)any person from or through whom an applicant derives his right to apply;(iii)any person whose estate is represented by the applicant as executor, administrator or other representative;

(b)“application” includes a petition;(

c)“bill of exchange” includes a hundi and a cheque;

(d)“bond “ includes any instrument whereby a person obliges himself to pay money to another, on condition that the obligation shall be void if a specified act is performed, or is not performed, as the case may be;

(e)“defendant” includes—(i)any person from or through whom a defendant derives his liability to be sued;(ii)any person whose estate is represented by the defendant as executor, administrator or other representative;

 

(f)“easement” includes a right not arising from contract, by which one person is entitled to remove and appropriate for his own profit any part of the soil belonging to another or anything growing in, or attached to, or subsisting upon, the land of another;

(g)“foreign country” means any country other than India;

(h)“good faith”— nothing shall be deemed to be done in good faith which is not done with due care and attention;

(i)“plaintiff” includes—(i)any person from or through whom a plaintiff derives his right to sue;(ii)any person whose estate is represented by the plaintiff as executor, administrator or other representative;

(j)“period of limitation” means the period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the Schedule, and “prescribed period” means the period of limitation computed in accordance with the provisions of this Act;

(k)“promissory note” means any instrument whereby the maker engages absolutely to pay a specified sum of money to another at a time therein limited, or on demand, or at sight;

(l)“suit” does not include an appeal or an application;

(m)“tort” means a civil wrong which is not exclusively the breach of a contract or the breach of a trust;

(n)“trustee” does not include a benamidar, a mortgagee remaining in possession after the mortgage has been satisfied or a person in a wrongful possession without title.

Part II – Limitation of suits, appeals and applications

3. Bar of limitation.—

(1)Subject to the provisions contained in sections 4 to 24 (inclusive), every suit instituted, appeal preferred, and application made after the prescribed period shall be dismissed, although limitation has not been set up as a defence.

(2)For the purposes of this Act —
(a)a suit is instituted —(i)in an ordinary case, when the plaint is presented to the proper officer;(ii)in the case of a pauper, when his application for leave to sue as a pauper is made; and(iii)in the case of a claim against a company which is being wound up by the court, when the claimant first sends in his claim to the official liquidator;
(b)any claim by way of a set off or a counter claim, shall be treated as a separate suit and shall be deemed to have been instituted —(i)in the case of a set off, on the same date as the suit in which the set off is pleaded;(ii)in the case of a counter claim, on the date on which the counter claim is made in court;
(c)an application by notice of motion in a High Court is made when the application is presented to the proper officer of that court.
The Policy of Law : The law of limitation is founded on public policy. The Limitation Act, 1963 has not been enacted with the object of destroying the rights of the parties but to ensure that they approach the Court for vindication of their rights without unreasonable delay. The idea underlying the concept of limitation is that every remedy should remain alive only till the expiry of the period fixed by the Legislature. At the same time, the Courts are empowered to condone the delay provided that sufficient cause is shown by the applicant for not availing the remedy within the prescribed period of limitation. The expression ‘sufficient cause’ used in Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 and other statutes is elastic enough to enable the Courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which serve the ends of justice. No hard and fast rule has been or can be laid down for deciding the applications for condonation of delay but over the years this Court has advocated that a liberal approach should be adopted in such matters so that substantive rights of the parties are not defeated merely because of delay .[ V.J. Bhadrasingh VS Deputy General Manager, O.N.G.C (2013)]

4. Expiry of prescribed period when court is closed.—

Where the prescribed period for any suit, appeal or application expires on a day when the court is closed, the suit, appeal or application may be instituted, preferred or made on the day when the court reopens.Explanation.—A court shall be deemed to be closed on any day within the meaning of this section if during any part of its normal working hours it remains closed on that day.

5. Extension of prescribed period in certain cases.—

Any appeal or any application, other than an application under any of the provisions of Order XXI of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), may be admitted after the prescribed period, if the appellant or the applicant satisfies the court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or making the application within such period.Explanation.—The fact that the appellant or the applicant was misled by any order, practice or judgment of the High Court in ascertaining or computing the prescribed period may be sufficient cause within the meaning of this section.

Comment

The Privy Council in General Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Ltd. v. Janmahomed Abdul Rahim, AIR 1941 PC 6, relied upon the writings of Mr. Mitra in Tagore Law Lectures 1932 wherein it has been said that “a law of limitation and prescription may appear to operate harshly and unjustly in a particular case, but if the law provides for a limitation, it is to be enforced even at the risk of hardship to a particular party as the Judge cannot, on applicable grounds, enlarge the time allowed by the law, postpone its operation, or introduce exceptions not recognised by law.”

  • If the delay is statutorily not condonable, the delay cannot be condoned.

Condonation of Delay on the ground of sufficient Cause ⇓ 

Under section 5…there has to be a finding of sufficient cause.  Sufficient cause had been defined as circumstances beyond the control of the party and I do not know of any case
wherein this definition of sufficient cause had been rejected.

Sufficient cause is the cause for which defendant could not be blamed for his absence. The meaning of the word “sufficient” is “adequate” or “enough”, inasmuch as may be necessary to answer the purpose intended. Therefore, the word “sufficient” embraces no more than that which provides a platitude, which when the act done suffices to accomplish the purpose intended in the facts and circumstances existing in a case, duly examined from the view point of a reasonable standard of a cautious man. In this context, “sufficient cause” means that the party should not have acted in a negligent manner or there was a want of bona fide on its part in view of the facts and circumstances of a case or it cannot be alleged that the party has “not acted diligently” or “remained inactive”. However, the facts and circumstances of each case must afford sufficient ground to enable the Court concerned to exercise discretion for the reason that whenever the Court exercises discretion, it has to be exercised judiciously. The applicant must satisfy the Court that he was prevented by any “sufficient cause” from prosecuting his case, and unless a satisfactory explanation is furnished, the Court should not allow the application for condonation of delay. The court has to examine whether the mistake is bona fide or was merely a device to cover an ulterior purpose. (See: Manindra Land and Building Corporation Ltd. v. Bhootnath Banerjee & Ors., AIR 1964 SC 1336; Lala Matadin v. Narayanan, AIR 1970 SC 1953; Parimal v.Veena @ Bharti AIR 2011 SC 1150; and Maniben Devraj Shah v. Municipal Corporation of Brihan Mumbai AIR 2012 SC 1629.)  Basawaraj & Anr. Versus The Spl. Land Acquisition Officer

  • Good Cause & Sufficient Cause : In Arjun Singh v. Mohindra Kumar, AIR 1964 SC 993 this Court explained the difference between a “good cause” and a “sufficient cause” and observed that every “sufficient cause” is a good cause and vice versa. However, if any difference exists it can only be that the requirement of good cause is complied with on a lesser degree of proof that that of “sufficient cause”.
  • The principle that even though Section 5 of the Limitation Act may be impliedly inapplicable, principle of Section 14 of the Limitation Act can be held to be applicable even if Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act does not apply, as laid down by this Court in Consolidated Engineering Enterprises vs. Principal Secretary, Irrigation Department and M.P. Steel Corporation vs. Commissioner of Central Excise
  • The courts should not adopt an injustice-oriented approach in rejecting the application for condonation of delay. However the court while allowing such application has to draw a distinction between delay and inordinate delay for want of bona fides of an inaction or negligence would deprive a party of the protection of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963. Sufficient cause is a condition precedent for exercise of discretion by the Court for condoning the delay. This Court has time and again held that when mandatory provision is  not complied with and that delay is not properly, satisfactorily and convincingly explained, the court cannot condone the delay on sympathetic grounds alone.[Brijesh Kumar & Ors. Versus State of Haryana & Ors.]

Long Delay condoned :

  • In P.K. Ramachandran v. State of Kerala & Anr., AIR 1998 SC 2276, the Apex Court while considering a case of condonation of delay of 565 days, wherein no explanation much less a reasonable or satisfactory explanation for condonation of delay had been given, held as under:–
    “Law of limitation may harshly affect a particular party but it has to be applied with all its rigour when the statute so prescribes and the Courts have no power to extend the period of limitation on equitable grounds.”

 

  • The decision of Supreme Court in Office of Chief Post Master General v. Living Media India Ltd. AIR 2012 SC 1506 is directly on the point. In this case there was a delay of 427 days in filing the appeal before the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court and the certified copy of the High Court Judgment was applied after four months with no explanation why it was not applied for within a reasonable time. The Supreme Court after examining other dates mentioned in the affidavit of the person-in-charge of the case to justify the delay found that there was delay at every stage with no explanation for the cause of delay. The Supreme Court also took serious note of the casual manner in which the
    Government departments are functioning showing virtually no respect to the law of limitation.

Policy of the section 5 :

(i) That condonation of delay can only be allowed within the purview of Section 5 of the Act, when a case for sufficient cause has been made out within the scope thereof;

(ii) Wrong advice of the counsel per se does not constitute a sufficient cause for condonation of delay

(iii) Section 14 of the Act is not attracted to appeals but is confined to suits, etc. only; however the principles of the section, such as due diligence and good faith can be resorted to, in order to satisfy the condition of sufficient cause postulated by Section 5;

(iv) The rule of actus curiae neminem gravabit should not be extended to give benefit to the litigant who, on account of wrong advice by counsel, has approached an appellate forum having no jurisdiction.

6. Legal disability.—

(1)Where a person entitled to institute a suit or make an application for the execution of a decree is, at the time from which the prescribed period is to be reckoned, a minor or insane, or an idiot, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the disability has ceased, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time specified therefore in the third column of the Schedule.

(2)Where such person is, at the time from which the prescribed period is to be reckoned, affected by two such disabilities, or where, before his disability has ceased, he is affected by another disability, he may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after both disabilities have ceased, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time so specified.
(3)Where the disability continues up to the death of that person, his legal representative may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the death, as would otherwise have been allowed from the time so specified.
(4)Where the legal representative referred to in sub-section (3) is, at the date of the death of the person whom he represents, affected by any such disability, the rules contained in sub-sections (1) and (2) shall apply.
(5)Where a person under disability dies after the disability ceases but within the period allowed to him under this section, his legal representative may institute the suit or make the application within the same period after the death, as would otherwise have been available to that person had he not died.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, ‘minor’ includes a child in the womb.

7. Disability of one of several persons.—

Where one of several persons jointly entitled to institute a suit or make an application for the execution of a decree is under any such disability, and a discharge can be given without the concurrence of such person, time will run against them all; but, where no such discharge can be given, time will not run as against any of them until one of them becomes capable of giving such discharge without the concurrence of the others or until the disability has ceased.

Explanation I.—This section applies to a discharge from every kind of liability, including a liability in respect of any immovable property.
Explanation II.—For the purposes of this section, the manager of a Hindu undivided family governed by the Mitakshara law shall be deemed to be capable of giving a discharge without the concurrence of the other members of the family only if he is in management of the joint family property.

Comment:

Scope :

A reading of Section 7 makes it clear that when one of several persons who are jointly entitled to institute a Suit or make an application for the execution of the decree and a discharge can be given without the concurrence of such person, time will run against all of them but when no such discharge can be given, time will not run against all of them until one of them becomes capable of giving discharge.

 

8. Special exceptions.—

Nothing in section 6 or in section 7 applies to suits to enforce rights of pre-emption, or shall be deemed to extend, for more than three years from the cessation of the disability or the death of the person affected thereby, the period of limitation for any suit or application.

9. Continuous running of time.—

Where once time has begun to run, no subsequent disability or inability to institute a suit or make an application stops it:Provided that where letters of administration to the estate of a creditor have been granted to his debtor, the running of the period of limitation for a suit to recover the debt shall be suspended while the administration continues.

10. Suits against trustees and their representatives.—

Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this Act, no suit against a person in whom property has become vested in trust for any specific purpose, or against his legal representatives or assigns (not being assigns for valuable consideration), for the purpose of following in his or their hands such property, or the proceeds thereof, or for an account of such property or proceeds, shall be barred by any length of time.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section any property comprised in a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist religious or charitable endowment shall be deemed to be property vested in trust for a specific purpose and the manager of the property shall be deemed to be the trustee thereof.

11. Suits on contracts entered into outside the territories to which the Act extends.—

(1)Suits instituted in the territories to which this Act extends on contracts entered into in the State of Jammu and Kashmir or in a foreign country shall be subject to the rules of limitation contained in this Act.

(2)No rule of limitation in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir or in a foreign country shall be a defence to a suit instituted in the said territories on a contract entered into in that State or in a foreign country unless—(a)the rule has extinguished the contract; and(b)the parties were domiciled in that State or in the foreign country during the period prescribed by such rule.

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Part III

 Computation of period of limitation

12. Exclusion of time in legal proceedings.—

(1)In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal or application, the day from which such period is to be reckoned, shall be excluded. 

(2)In computing the period of limitation for an appeal or an application for leave to appeal or for revision or for review of a judgment, the day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed shall be excluded.
(3)Where a decree or order is appealed from or sought to be revised or reviewed, or where an application is made for leave to appeal from a decree or order, the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the judgment shall also be excluded.
(4)In computing the period of limitation for an application to set aside an award, the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the award shall be excluded.
Explanation.—In computing under this section the time requisite for obtaining a copy of a decree or an order, any time taken by the court to prepare the decree or order before an application for a copy thereof is made shall not be excluded.

13. Exclusion of time in cases where leave to sue or appeal as a pauper is applied for.—

In computing the period of limitation prescribed for any suit or appeal in any case where an application for leave to sue or appeal as a pauper has been made and rejected, the time during which the applicant has been prosecuting in good faith his application for such leave shall be excluded, and the court may, on payment of the court fees prescribed for such suit or appeal, treat the suit or appeal as having the same force and effect as if the court fees had been paid in the first instance.

14. Exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in court without jurisdiction. —

(1)In computing the period of limitation for any suit the time during which the plaintiff has been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding, whether in a court of first instance or of appeal or revision, against the defendant shall be excluded, where the proceeding relates to the same matter in issue and is prosecuted in good faith in a court which, from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature, is unable to entertain it.

(2)In computing the period of limitation for any application, the time during which the applicant has been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding, whether in a court of first instance or of appeal or revision, against the same party for the same relief shall be excluded, where such proceeding is prosecuted in good faith in a court which, from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature, is unable to entertain it.
(3)Notwithstanding anything contained in rule 2 of Order XXXIII of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), the provisions of sub-section (1) shall apply in relation to a fresh suit instituted on permission granted by the court under rule 1 of that Order where such permission is granted on the ground that the first suit must fail by reason of a defect in the jurisdiction of the court or other cause of a like nature.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—
(a)in excluding the time during which a former civil proceeding was pending, the day on which that proceeding was instituted and the day on which it ended shall both be counted;
(b)a plaintiff or an applicant resisting an appeal shall be deemed to be prosecuting a proceeding;
(c)misjoinder of parties or of causes of action shall be deemed to be a cause of a like nature with defect of jurisdiction.
Comment:

The Policy of this Section :Section 14 permits the exclusion of time only for proceedings “prosecuted in good faith”, therefore in order to make out sufficient cause under section 5 an appellant must prove that he had acted in good faith in presenting his appeal in the wrong Court. Good faith has been defined in clause (7) of section 2 of the Limitation Act as: “‘good faith’: nothing shall be deemed to be done in good faith which is not done with due care and attention.” Now if an appellant proves that he filed his appeal in the wrong Court despite due care and attention it means that the presentation of the appeal in the wrong Court was on account of circumstances beyond his control.Notwithstanding, the fact that section 14 of Limitation Act, in terms does not apply to proceedings of an appeal, if the appellant is able to establish that he followed the remedy before a wrong forum in good faith, the Court may condone such delay in filing of the appeal treating it as ‘sufficient cause’ under section 5 of the Limitation Act. What would constitute ‘sufficient cause’ in such cases would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.

  • Section 14 would be applicable when there is pursuing of a remedy with due diligence and good faith.
  • The prescription of limitation in a case of present nature, when the statute commands that this Court may condone the further delay not beyond 60 days, it would come within the ambit and sweep of the provisions and policy of legislation. It is equivalent to Section 3 of the Limitation Act. Therefore, it is uncondonable and it cannot be condoned taking recourse to Article 142 of the Constitution. [OIL & NATURAL GAS CORP.LTD. VERSUS GUJARAT ENERGY TRANSMISSION CORPORATION. LTD. & ORS March 1, 2017.  ]
  • In Consolidated Engineering Enterprises Vs. Principle Secretary, Irrigation  Department and others [(2008) 7 SCC 167] the Supreme Court held:-

    “While considering the provision of Section 14 of the Limitation Act, proper approach will have to be adopted and the provisions will have to be interpreted so as to advance the cause of justice rather than abort the proceedings. It will be well to bear in mind that an element of mistake is inherent in the invocation of Section 14. In fact, the section is intended to provide relief against the bar of limitation in cases of mistaken remedy or selection of a wrong forum. On reading Section 14 of the Act it becomes clear that the legislature has enacted the said section to exempt a certain period covered by a bona fide litigious activity……………The principle is clearly applicable not only to a case in which a litigant brings his application in the court, that is, a court having no jurisdiction to entertain it but also where he brings the suit or the application in the wrong court in consequence of bona fide mistake or (sic of) law or defect of procedure. Having regard to the intention of the  legislature this Court is of the firm opinion that the equity underlying Section 14 should be applied to its fullest extent and time taken diligently pursuing a remedy, in a wrong court, should be excluded”.

Wrong advice By Counsel: 

wrong advice of counsel is not an adequate ground per se to constitute sufficient cause because if this rule is accepted, the centuries tested rule that ignorance of law is no excuse would stand violated. Besides, the above factors which caused ambiguity and misled the appellant (or his counsel as the case may be) have to be stated with clarity and precision in the application for condonation of delay and proved on the record.

15. Exclusion of time in certain other cases.—

(1)In computing the period of limitation of any suit or application for the execution of a decree, the institution or execution of which has been stayed by injunction or order, the time of the continuance of the injunction or order, the day on which it was issued or made, and the day on which it was withdrawn, shall be excluded.
(2)In computing the period of limitation for any suit of which notice has been given, or for which the previous consent or sanction of the Government or any other authority is required, in accordance with the requirements of any law for the time being in force, the period of such notice or, as the case may be, the time required for obtaining such consent or sanction shall be excluded.
Explanation.—In excluding the time required for obtaining the consent or sanction of the Government or any other authority, the date on which the application was made for obtaining the consent or sanction and the date of receipt of the order of the Government or other authority shall both be counted.
(3)In computing the period of limitation for any suit or application for execution of a decree by any receiver or interim receiver appointed in proceedings for the adjudication of a person as an insolvent or by any liquidator or provisional liquidator appointed in proceedings for the winding up of a company, the period beginning with the date of institution of such proceeding and ending with the expiry of three months from the date of appointment of such receiver or liquidator, as the case may be, shall be excluded.
(4)In computing the period of limitation for a suit for possession by a purchaser at a sale in execution of a decree, the time during which a proceeding to set aside the sale has been prosecuted shall be excluded.
(5)In computing the period of limitation for any suit the time during which the defendant has been absent from India and from the territories outside India under the administration of the Central Government, shall be excluded.

16. Effect of death on or before the accrual of the right to sue.—

(1)Where a person who would, if he were living, have a right to institute a suit or make an application dies before the right accrues, or where a right to institute a suit or make an application accrues only on the death of a person, the period of limitation shall be computed from the time when there is a legal representative of the deceased capable of instituting such suit or making such application.

(2)Where a person against whom, if he were living, a right to institute a suit or make an application would have accrued dies before the right accrues, or where a right to institute a suit or make an application against any person accrues on the death of such person, the period of limitation shall be computed from the time when there is a legal representative of the deceased against whom the plaintiff may institute such suit or make such application.
(3)Nothing in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) applies to suits to enforce rights of pre-emption or to suits for the possession of immovable property or of a hereditary office.

17. Effect of fraud or mistake.—

(1)Where, in the case of any suit or application for which a period of limitation is prescribed by this Act,—(a)the suit or application is based upon the fraud of the defendant or respondent or his agent; or(b)the knowledge of the right or title on which a suit or application is founded is concealed by the fraud of any such person as aforesaid; or(c)the suit or application is for relief from the consequences of a mistake; or(d)where any document necessary to establish the right of the plaintiff or applicant has been fraudulently concealed from him,the period of limitation shall not begin to run until plaintiff or applicant has discovered the fraud or the mistake or could, with reasonable diligence, have discovered it; or in the case of a concealed document, until the plaintiff or the applicant first had the means of producing the concealed document or compelling its production:

Provided that nothing in this section shall enable any suit to be instituted or application to be made to recover or enforce any charge against, or set aside any transaction affecting, any property which—
(i)in the case of fraud, has been purchased for valuable consideration by a person who was not a party to the fraud and did not at the time of the purchase know, or have reason to believe, that any fraud had been committed, or
(ii)in the case of mistake, has been purchased for valuable consideration subsequently to the transaction in which the mistake was made, by a person who did not know, or have reason to believe, that the mistake had been made, or
(iii)in the case of a concealed document, has been purchased for valuable consideration by a person who was not a party to the concealment and, did not at the time of purchase know, or have reason to believe, that the document had been concealed.
(2)Where a judgment-debtor has, by fraud or force, prevented the execution of a decree or order within the period of limitation, the court may, on the application of the judgment-creditor made after the expiry of the said period extend the period for execution of the decree or order:Provided that such application is made within one year from the date of the discovery of the fraud or the cessation of force, as the case may be.

18. Effect of acknowledgment in writing.—

(1)Where, before the expiration of the prescribed period for a suit of application in respect of any property or right, an acknowledgment of liability in respect of such property or right has been made in writing signed by the party against whom such property or right is claimed, or by any person through whom he derives his title or liability, a fresh period of limitation shall be computed from the time when the acknowledgment was so signed.

(2)Where the writing containing the acknowledgment is undated, oral evidence may be given of the time when it was signed; but subject to the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), oral evidence of its contents shall not be received.Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—(a)an acknowledgment may be sufficient though it omits to specify the exact nature of the property or right, or avers that the time for payment, delivery, performance or enjoyment has not yet come or is accompanied by a refusal to pay, deliver, perform or permit to enjoy, or is coupled with a claim to set-off, or is addressed to a person other than a person entitled to the property or right;(b)the word “signed” means signed either personally or by an agent duly authorised in this behalf; and(c)an application for the execution of a decree or order shall not be deemed to be an application in respect of any property or right.

19. Effect of payment on account of debt or of interest on legacy.—

Where payment on account of a debt or of interest on a legacy is made before the expiration of the prescribed period by the person liable to pay the debt or legacy or by his agent duly authorised in this behalf, a fresh period of limitation shall be computed from the time when the payment was made:Provided that, save in the case of payment of interest made before the 1st day of January, 1928, an acknowledgment of the payment appears in the handwriting of, or in a writing signed by, the person making the payment.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—
(a)where mortgaged land is in the possession of the mortgagee, the receipt of the rent or produce of such land shall be deemed to be a payment;
(b)“debt” does not include money payable under a decree or order of a court.

20. Effect of acknowledgment or payment by another person.—

(1)The expression “agent duly authorised in this behalf” in sections 18 and 19 shall, in the case of a person under disability, include his lawful guardian, committee or manager or an agent duly authorised by such guardian, committee or manager to sign the acknowledgment or make the payment.

(2)Nothing in the said sections renders one of several joint contractors, partners, executors or mortgagees chargeable by reason only of a written acknowledgment signed by, or of a payment made by, or by the agent, of, any other or others of them.
(3)For the purposes of the said sections,—(a)an acknowledgment signed or a payment made in respect of any liability by or by the duly authorised agent of, any limited owner of property who is governed by Hindu law, shall be a valid acknowledgment or payment, as the case may be, against a reversioner succeeding to such liability; and(b)where a liability has been incurred by or on behalf of a Hindu undivided family as such, an acknowledgment or payment made by, or by the duly authorised agent of, the manager of the family for the time being shall be deemed to have been made on behalf of the whole family.

21. Effect of substituting or adding new plaintiff or defendant.—

(1)Where after the institution of a suit, a new plaintiff or, defendant is substituted or added, the suit shall, as regards him, be deemed to have been instituted when he was so made a party:Provided that where the court is satisfied that the omission to include a new plaintiff or defendant was due to a mistake made in good faith it may direct that the suit as regards such plaintiff or defendant shall be deemed to have been instituted on any earlier date.

(2)Nothing in sub-section (1) shall apply to a case where a party is added or substituted owing to assignment or devolution of any interest during the pendency of a suit or where a plaintiff is made a defendant or a defendant is made a plaintiff.

22. Continuing breaches and torts.—

In the case of a continuing breach of contract or in the case of a continuing tort, a fresh period of limitation begins to run at every moment of the time during which the breach or the tort, as the case may be, continues.

23. Suits for compensation for acts not actionable without special damage.—

In the case of a suit for compensation for an act which does not give rise to a cause of action unless some specific injury actually results therefrom, the period of limitation shall be computed from the time when the injury results.

24. Computation of time mentioned in instruments.—

All instruments shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be made with reference to the Gregorian calendar.

Devider

Part IV 

Acquisition of ownership by possession

25. Acquisition of easement by prescription.—

(1)Where the access and use of light or air to and for any building have been peaceably enjoyed therewith as an easement, and as of right, without interruption, and for twenty years, and where any way or watercourse or the use of any water or any other easement (whether affirmative or negative) has been peaceably and openly enjoyed by any person claiming title thereto as an easement and as of right without interruption and for twenty years, the right to such access and use of light or air, way, watercourse, use of water, or other easement shall be absolute and indefeasible.

(2)Each of the said periods of twenty years shall be taken to be a period ending within two years next before the institution of the suit wherein the claim to which such period relates is contested.
(3)Where the property over which a right is claimed under sub-section (1) belongs to the Government that sub-section shall be read as if for the words “twenty years” the words “thirty years” were substituted.Explanation.—Nothing is an interruption within the meaning of this section, unless where there is an actual discontinuance of the possession or enjoyment by reason of an obstruction by the act of some person other than the claimant, and unless such obstruction is submitted to or acquiesced in for one year after the claimant has notice thereof and of the person making or authorising the same to be made.
State Amendment(Orissa)—Section 25 is repealed.

26. Exclusion in favour of reversioner of servient tenement.—

Where any land or water upon, over or from, which any easement has been enjoyed or derived has been held under or by virtue of any interest for life or in terms of years exceeding three years from the granting thereof the time of the enjoyment of such easement during the continuance of such interest or term shall be excluded in the computation of the period to twenty years in case the claim is, within three years next after the determination of such interests or term resisted by the person entitled on such determination to the said land or water.

State Amendment(Orissa)—Section 26 is repealed.

27. Extinguishment of right to property.—

At the determination of the period hereby limited to any person for instituting a suit for possession of any property, his right to such property shall be extinguished.

Devider

Part V 

Miscellaneous

28. Amendment of certain Acts.—

Rep. by the Repealing and Amending Act, 1974 (56 of 1974), sec. 2 and First Sch.

29. Savings.—

(1)Nothing in this Act shall affect section 25 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (9 of 1872).

(2)Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed by the Schedule, the provisions of section 3 shall apply as if such period were the period prescribed by the Schedule and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by any special or local law, the provisions contained in sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) shall apply only in so far as, and to the extent to which, they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law.
(3)Save as otherwise provided in any law for the time being in force with respect to marriage and divorce, nothing in this Act shall apply to any suit or other proceeding under any such law.
(4)Sections 25 and 26 and the definition of “easement” in section 2 shall not apply to cases arising in the territories to which the Indian Easements Act, 1882 (5 of 1882), may for the time being extend.
Comment : 
  • Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act has no absolute application, as the statute in question impliedly excludes applicability of provisions of Limitation Act to the extent a different scheme is adopted. If no provision of Limitation Act was expressly adopted, it may have been possible to hold that by virtue of Section 29(2) power of condonation of delay was available. It is well settled that exclusion of power of condonation of delay can be implied as laid down in Union of India vs. Popular Construction Co., Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board vs. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise vs. Hongo India Private Limited and Gopal Sardar vs. Karuna Sardar.

    30. Provision for suits, etc ., for which the prescribed period is shorter than the period prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908. —

    Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act,—(a)any suit for which the period of limitation is shorter than the period of limitation prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908), may be instituted within a period of seven years next after the commencement of this Act or within the period prescribed for such suit by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908), whichever period expires earlier:Provided that if in respect of any such suit, the said period of seven years expires earlier than period of limitation prescribed therefore under the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908) and the said period of seven years together with so much of the period of limitation in respect of such suit under the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908), as has already expired before the commencement of this Act is shorter than the period prescribed for such suit under this Act, then, the suit may be instituted within the period of limitation prescribed therefore under this Act;

(b)any appeal or application for which the period of limitation is shorter than the period of limitation prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908), may be preferred or made within a period of ninety days next after the commencement of this Act or within the period prescribed for such appeal or application by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908, whichever period expires earlier.State Amendment(Modification under Article 371F of the Constitution of India )Sikkim. —For section 30, substitute the following section, namely:—“30. Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, any suit, appeal or application, which could be instituted, preferred or made before the commencement of this Act and for which the period of limitation is shorter than the period provided therefore by the law in Sikkim immediately before such commencement, may be instituted, preferred or made within the period provided by such law.”
  1. Provisions as to barred or pending suits, etc. –

Nothing in this Act shall,(a)enable any suit, appeal or application to be instituted, preferred or made, for which the period of limitation prescribed by the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908), expired before the commencement of this Act; or(b)affect any suit, appeal or application instituted, preferred or made before, and pending at, such commencement.State Amendment(Modification under Article 371F of the Constitution of India )Sikkim. —In section 31, in clause (a), for the words “Indian Limitation Act, 1908 (9 of 1908), expired before the commencement of this Act”, substitute the words “law in force in Sikkim immediately before the commencement of this Act, expired before such commencement”.

  1. Repealed.—

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