To alleviate the difficulties faced by lawyers and litigants across the country due to the nationwide lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court on 23rd March 2020 passed an order in In Re: Cognizance for Extension of Limitation granting an indefinite extension of the limitation period in all proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under General law or Special Laws whether condonable or not, with effect from March 15, 2020. Subsequently, the CGPDTM and the Delhi High Court passed several orders, the timeline of which has been dealt with in detail in our previous article available here:

However, on 3rd March 2021, the Supreme Court indicated that it was proposing to lift the suo moto extension of the limitation period granted by it on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, with effect from March 15 this year. Following this, on 8th March 2021, the Court passed an order ending the extension of the limitation period. The directions passed are:

  1. In computing the period of limitation for any suit, appeal, application or proceeding the period from 15th March 2020 till 14th March 2021 shall stand excluded. Consequently, the balance period of limitation remaining as of 15th March 2020, if any, shall become available with effect from 15th March 2021.
  2. In cases where the limitation would have expired during the period from 15th March 2020 till 14th March 2021, notwithstanding the actual balance period of limitation remaining, all persons shall have a limitation period of 90 days from 15th March 2021. If the actual balance period of limitation remaining, with effect from 15th March 2021 is greater than 90 days, that longer period shall apply.
  3. The period from March 15, 2020, to March 14, 2021, shall also stand excluded in computing the periods prescribed under Sections 23 (4) and 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 and provisos (b) and (c) of Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 and any other laws, which prescribe period(s) of limitation for instituting proceedings, outer limits (within which the court or tribunal can condone delay) and termination of proceedings.
  4. The court also directed the Government of India to amend the guidelines for containment zones, to state that “Regulated movement will be allowed for medical emergencies, provision of essential goods and services, and other necessary functions, such as time-bound applications, including for legal purposes, and educational and job-related requirements.”

The practical implication of the Court’s order is that parties would have at least until June 13, 2021 (i.e., 90 days from March 15, 2021) to complete any necessary filings. The Court’s order has also given litigants additional breathing room by stating that if the balance period of limitation was more than 90 days as of March 15, 2020, the same balance period would be calculated from March 15, 2021.

This order essentially serves as a call of action for everybody engaged in IP practice. This caution is given in light of the fact that the deadline locks of the online filing system of the CGPDTM and the Copyrights Office which have been removed post the original extension order, might get locked up once the grace period of 90 days allocated by the Court expires. Thus, taking into consideration the manner in which IP Offices work, it is better to plan and finish on any filings and submissions to be done accordingly.

Update: The Supreme Court on April 27, 2021 extended the limitation period for filing cases in courts and tribunals across the country with effect from March 14, 2021 until further orders. The said order was passed by the Hon’ble Court in light of the alarming situation created by the second wave of COVID-19 in India.

This article has been authored by Sandhya S